Business Process Documentation - 10 Steps and Best Practices
Introduction to Business Process Documentation
As a business continues to grow, more workflows, people, and responsibilities will accumulate. To make sure that the complexities of a company are outlined and clear for employees, managers must perform business process documentation.
This practice will help businesses determine whether their operational procedures are running efficiently and smoothly. Additionally, thorough documentation will highlight improvements that need to be made to processes.
What is Business Process Documentation?
Business process documentation involves comprehensively describing the steps to carry out a task. Typically, this practice includes compiling various documents, such as policies, tutorials, and checklists.
Most importantly, process documentation entails reviewing the business's procedures and creating a process map. Process mapping allows managers to visually see how the different steps in the task are connected, as well as its outputs and inputs. With detailed documentation of an organization's process, executives will be able to do the following.
- Improve Operations - The practice makes it easier for teams to pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficient steps, to which informed adjustments can be made.
- Enhance Employee Training - Process documents can be shared with new employees so they can become familiar with their responsibilities.
- Record Company Knowledge - These documents will preserve critical information about how the company operates. This can be useful in the future, in case employees need to refer back to directions or executives want to create new processes.
10 Steps to Process Documentation
When documenting business processes, executives should meet with relevant managers and employees. It is recommended to use a whiteboard or flip chart as a documentation tool so that all members can visually see the process. Generally, documentation will require 10 steps.
1. Process Name
The documentation process begins by writing down the process name and a concise description of its purpose.
2. Process Boundaries
The process's start and endpoints need to be determined, as well as what prompts it to begin. Executives should also identify what factors demonstrate that the process is completed.
3. Process Outputs
Next, identify the output that the process produces.
4. Process Inputs
The team will then list all the supplies and raw materials they need to conduct the process and where they can source them. Some common inputs are paper, software, and fabric.
5. Process Activities
At this stage, individuals in the meeting should make a note of all the activities that need to be included in the process. For example, to produce a new children's toy, the brand will need to submit a trademark request and create supplier orders.
6. Process Organization
Once all process activities are identified, the team should collaborate and put them into a cohesive sequence. It may be helpful to record the reason why a task is at a specific step for future reference.
7. Process Review
It is important to review the sequence in its entirety after it is organized. Teams should make sure the process is complete according to the established boundaries from Step 2.
8. Process Roles
Afterward, identify who is responsible for performing process activities and assign different roles for each step. For instance, a procurement manager will be in charge of creating purchase orders, while a quality control team will inspect the delivery.
9. Transcribe Process
The process should then be recorded from the whiteboard onto a physical or online document.
10. Final Process Review
Finally, all team members in the meeting must review and approve the process flow.
Best Practices for Business Process Documentation
Organizations can ensure efficient business process documentation by utilizing these best practices.
Include the Right People
When meeting for process documentation, the organization should focus on key team players that work directly with the procedure. These individuals have experience and will be able to provide valuable insights and opinions into optimizing the business process.
Determine the Level of Detail
Although process documentation should be comprehensive, adding too much detail can make it difficult to understand. The team should identify how much information would be sufficient to add and ensure that all details are important to the process. It is recommended that executives and employees meet more than once to review their process flow and revise whenever necessary.
Proactively Detect Weaknesses
Identifying weak points within each stage of a business process will effectively highlight opportunities for improvement. When assessing the process, one member of the team should document these points on a spreadsheet. This will make it easier for the group to refer back to and to brainstorm how to renovate the step.
Select Critical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators will allow managers to measure the efficiency of a business process. The KPI should reflect the organization's process goals. For example, if a brand wants to boost its output, they could measure output per shift. On the other hand, if a company's objective is to reduce waste, the managers can measure the number of defects and obsolescence in their inventory.