A business process requires clarity, simplicity, and evolution to be successful in your company. Here are some tips to help you write and maintain better process documents.
Clarity of a Business Process
Be as clear and specific as possible when you are writing processes so that every step is obvious to anyone who is reading it.
Have you ever started working at a new company where they speak in acronyms that you don’t understand? It takes forever just to understand the language, let alone the actual process! Be sure to avoid this mistake when writing your process. Or, at least, include a reference to what those acronyms mean.
Ask a person who is not involved to read the business process. Obviously, you can’t ask a non-scientist to understand a scientific document but find a scientist who isn’t involved in the process if technical language is a sticking point. If your reader can’t understand what to do, then you’ve missed the mark on clarity.
A business process isn’t written and documented for the person currently doing that process. Processes are written for people coming in new or as a reference for people who don’t know specific details.
To that point, include things that you might take for granted, like:
- What software programs should be used?
- Is there a template you start with?
- Where are the file folders for that topic kept in the building?
- Should something even be printed and filed or is it stored digitally?
Simplicity of a Business Process
Be detailed. Walk through the entire process and note every little thing that you do along the way. Those details are what is going to make your expectations clear.
But, being detailed doesn’t mean a process should be complicated. If you find that people are consistently not following a specific part of a process, it could be because it is too complicated.
When these issues arise, think of them as opportunities to streamline your business while simplifying your business process. When you examine these areas, you will sometimes find steps you can skip. You might find your employees have discovered a more efficient or effective way to do something you hadn’t thought of. You also might find that they didn’t understand the importance of why you needed it done the way you originally documented it.
Those types of situations give you, the owner, a training or coaching opportunity. “Whys” can be put into a process for instances like this, but, usually, they are unnecessary.
Evolution of a Business Process
Lastly, read through your processes every year or so to make sure that something hasn’t changed. Businesses change. People come and go. Sometimes issues arise that make you eliminate or add to your process.
It is always a good idea not to write, “give it to Laura” in your documentation, but rather “give it to the receptionist.” But, even then, your receptionist position might be eliminated, or you might redefine Laura’s role. Reviewing the processes regularly will help you keep these details clear.
Whenever a quality issue occurs, or a mistake happens, the prevention method should be added to the process. Processes are evolving, living, breathing documents that are affected by people’s judgment and the outside world. Reviewing them regularly will help you keep up with those changes.
As a business grows, creating and documenting the company policy, process, and procedures is vital. Ensure you keep your business processes clear, simple, and timely, and you’ll be off to a great start!
For more self-guided resources, visit our complete guide to successful small business operations.