Don’t Let Your Process Documentation Fall by the Wayside

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No client wants to hear that they have to wait until a specific individual comes back to the office in a few days’ time in order to assist them. “The person who normally handles this is out,” doesn’t usually go over well with customers, especially if they have a pressing issue.

If you’ve heard this line before at your organization or even used it yourself recently, it may be a sign that it’s time to consider some internal restructuring. The best way to start is to document your processes and train others on those processes.

Preparing to pass the baton

It’s not easy to let go of processes or procedures that you have become comfortable with over the years. Not only can it be time-consuming to train the next lucky contestant, but if you’re anything like me, you like to have your own stamp of approval on things. It’s easier to do it yourself and be confident it turned out how you like than to train someone else and hope they get it right.

Keeping your processes to yourself is setting your organization and your team up for failure if you leave, whether temporarily or permanently. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality or your specific checklist. Training and quality don’t need to be mutually exclusive. So let’s discuss how you can make both of these things happen without sacrificing the quality of work.

Developing best practices

An easy way to start is to sit yourself down in a Zoom session or something alike and simply record yourself completing tasks as you normally would on a daily basis. You can and should also record your computer screen, so you can note each click and step you take in the process. It may feel awkward or silly, but things that come easy to you from your years of experience may not be so black and white to the next batter up.

You might not ever publish this video internally for use by your peers and subordinates, but what it can help you do is outline a playbook for your team. Documenting step-by-step processes will be instrumental in ensuring that your company and employees are always equipped with the proper tools to assist whoever comes knocking on the door.

Don’t just have one or two people at your business do this, either. Have everyone sit down and document these kinds of things. Not only will you be surprised at how many different tasks you will be able to get proper notation and instructions for, but you may also have some overlap in practices that can help trim the excess fat, and even find new approaches to tasks that make things easier on everyone!

Don’t let your procedural documentation collect dust!

Just because your team may already have certain best practices and documents like this in place does not mean you are done with this process. There is a never-ending carousel of updates and improvements in technology every year, and you would be remiss not to give this documentation a thorough once-over at least on a semi-annual basis.

A great way to review is to sit down with a newer employee, have them go through the motions on each task they will end up being responsible for, and then look for feedback. Can they verify that the information included in these documents is still pertinent today? Is there anything that a fresh set of eyes can immediately pinpoint as a potential improvement for the process? Always be looking for that “next step” in the quality and efficiency of the service you provide to others.

In parting, if you could take one piece of advice home from this article, make it this: the only stupid questions are the ones we don’t ask. Always ask why. Always seek to improve. You, your company, and those around you will all be better for it.

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Comments
  • Janet Hendrie#1

    February 3, 2022

    Thank you, Brendan for reminding us how important documenting procedures and things we do as an individual that no one else may know about.

    You are so right, when some is suddenly unavailable and we are unaware of exactly sure of everything they are responsible for and how it is done, a guessing game will not do.

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