In previous blog posts, I suggested that documenting business processes is a way to support increased productivity. Business process management (BPM) is also one of the topics that managers regularly mention as a topic that their academic training failed to provide them with knowledge on, yet is absolutely essential to successful business building. It is no surprise then, that there are a myriad of tools to help do this, and research to explain how it all can be used.

Here is my take on why I think going through the painstaking exercise of documenting business processes is well worth it and why you absolutely need to do it every single time.

  1. Get a real view of how you actually do things: Every person in an organization is probably guilty of this at some level if they are in charge of a process and oversee or interact with others who must participate in its execution. They know what they need to do, and it is really clear to them. This works really well until the day they bring a new person into the mix who must execute actions within the process. They spend a few minutes explaining everything and then just tell that person to come and ask them if they have any questions. Then begins the endless daily interruptions and countless errors that drag on the day, and make it difficult to get things done and get out the door. They have failed to complete a simple yet invaluable project, that being to clearly document the process so that it can be viewed for what it is, and trained accurately to another person as well as serve as a reference point for when there is inevitable uncertainty or misunderstanding.

  2. May show you that your processes are not as good as you think: Once you have comprehensively documented a group of processes, you can then take a long and critical look at them and see whether they are actually good. Do not be surprised if you have a “wow that is horrible” moment the first time you do it, and find yourself thinking “Is that what we really go through to get this done.” Most likely, your processes are not as efficient and simple as you may think, but being able to see this visually is a big step in fixing the problem.

  3. Helps train employees: By having your processes rigorously documented, you are creating a knowledge base from which you can build a structured training program for both existing and new employees. You can then use this to reduce the amount of people hours spent on in-person training sessions and complete training for more employees at once. Taking this content online and into a learning management system (LMS) opens up an even greater world of possibilities.

  4. Reduces interruptions: The more documented material that employees have access to, the less likely they are to interrupt someone to ask them how to do something, opting instead to looking for the answer. Further, if despite knowing they have access to this, someone still chooses to ask you, you can simply tell them to refer to the knowledge base first and come back to you if they still do not understand it. In many cases, this will be enough and you will have immediately conditioned them to look for information first and ask second.

  5. Helps drive greater efficiency: Once you have your processes documented, you can more easily train others and provide them with a bank of content they can access when they have questions. This alone will deliver increased efficiency to your organization by reducing or eliminating the need for you to constantly explain and re-explain every detail in order to close knowledge gaps when someone is unsure as to how to correctly proceed. By having better resources, staff will also learn the correct way faster and reduce errors, further improving efficiency and quality. You will also gain clarity on what you processes actually look like and can re-engineer them much more easily to make them better.

If identifying how you can make your business more efficient matters to you, click here to book an appointment on my calendar to discuss how to do it.