What is process documentation: definition, example

Consistency and efficiency in day-to-day operations are vital for any business’s progress. However, it is seen quite often that consistency is not that simple to achieve. There can be several causes and reasons for this, but the main is the employees’ perform the same task in different ways or inability to perform the task through the recommended process. Moreover, every employee is different in terms of education, experience, and ability. These differences cause variations in-process and final output.

However, if the process’s standards are well-documented, the business can easily standardize its operating procedures. And, this will limit the variations when employees follow these standard procedures, and as a result, you can offer excellent services or the best quality products to your clients.

But, don’t think the process is simple. Below is all the vital info that will help you in creating a framework regarding the standardization of processes.

What is process documentation?

In simple words, process documentation is an in-depth description of how to perform a process. The document includes all the steps required to complete a task from start to end.

The process documentation emphasizes how employees and team members perform the same process. Process documentation is vital for an organization as it improves efficiency and consistency and allows your team members to learn from their achievements and mistakes.

Just to elaborate the matter a bit more:

The business process documentation is the operational blueprint of any organization.

Look at it in this way, would an engineer make any major changes into a building’s structure without thoroughly analyzing the details and finding a blueprint? Never. If they make such changes only on assumptions, not on the facts, the building’s structural integrity will be compromised.

The same will happen when you make operational decisions only on norms and not facts. And if you do so, the integrity of your business operations will be at risk.

Benefits of process documentation

Process documentation keeps track of a process when it has been executed during a project. The objective is to learn from the execution to make necessary adjustments in the strategy and improve it.

Process documentation can help you to:

  • Exclude errors and flaws.
  • Reduce time on tasks.
  • Reduce operational costs.
  • Reduce resources related to the tasks.
  • Improve organizational efficiency.
  • Improve customer satisfaction rate and employee satisfaction.

We assure you that proactively managing documenting process will give you five key things:

Process optimization

Process documentation helps to identify bottlenecks and inadequacies as it states the exact framework regarding the task. Further, it allows you to monitor what processes need improvements and which should be eliminated.

Process automation

Process documentation helps to identify all the tasks that can be automated; hence it saves your time and resources.

Grooming of new employees

Internal process documentation helps new joiners and others clearly know their position in the organization and helps them understand the processes they’ll be working on.

Information sharing and retention

Process documentation maintains a record of all the information and processes known only to some people in an organization. If any of those leaves the organization, the process’s key details leave with them. Adequate documentation preserves that vital info.

Operational consistency 

It is commonly seen in the firms that don’t document the processes that various employees are reinventing the same processes or tasks.

To summarize, the biggest benefit of process documentation is regulating and scaling all the tasks that you are carrying out, pinpointing various methods to optimize the processes, and sharing all the valuable data with other team members. And that makes it a core part of any business and management.

Process documentation also helps employees understand the importance of changes in behavior and attitudes and encourages them to give desirable results. Furthermore, it offers a framework for the processes to see the motive and aim behind the project and its overall impact.

Why is it important, and why should you document the processes?

When you plan to create new business processes or redefine existing ones, no other approach is better than documenting all the processes. The following are the reasons why you need documentation of processes:

To improve the business procedures

Most firms and businesses have the same processes to get the tasks done. Still, employees rely only on assumptions and the power of their “memory” or “guesswork” to complete the tasks.

This is the perfect recipe for disaster. You cannot improve the business processes if you don’t know:

  • What are the business processes, and where are they taking place?
  • What is the importance of every step in the process?
  • How important are your team members in the process cycle?
  • How the process impacts the final output and business?

To get the answers of all these questions, one should know where to start.

Process documentation is the perfect start as it offers you an eagle-eye view and helps the organization determine new strategies and ways to create efficiencies.

To reduce operational ambiguities

Another reason to document processes is that it helps to reduce ambiguities of roles and responsibilities in the workplace. Business process documentation should state:

  • Steps involved to finish the process efficiently.
  • States clear roles and responsibilities of employees.
  • The individual or team assigned to complete the task.
  • How to complete the task?

This methodology eliminates all the confusion in the workplace and improves overall efficiencies.

Furthermore, anyone can easily access the process document as and when needed as the document is a central repository of the business’s information. This transparency prevents any confusion within teams and employees.

To preserve key data

Perhaps the most significant reason for using the process documentation is to preserve vital information of the business.

The documentation process acts as the knowledge booster. It helps employees and team members understand each step of the process and makes everyone understand how a particular process or task should be carried out. So, when any “high profile” member leaves, the others know all the details about performing the tasks, and the knowledge is preserved.

To analyze

Process documentation is the perfect tool to analyze and compare all the previous versions of a process. It allows you to compare the earlier version with the new ones, calculate efficiency, reduce operational costs, and analyze other vital metrics. It allows you to see the actual results of your efforts. In this way, you can make new strategies if needed.

Lastly, you can also apply process documentation learning to other processes to save your precious time and money.

Vital elements of process documentation

Usually, the business process documentation has three elements:

  • The project team (aka employees)
  • The stakeholders
  • Third-party

Employees or project team

The employees are a vital part of any project and for process documentation. Documenting the processes while executing it ensures that the team members are mindful of their efforts and learn on every step.

Furthermore, project members’ main responsibility is that every step in the process is being followed correctly and recorded properly. However, some firms like to hire a specialist for the same purpose and to improve the overall productivity. You will also hire a specialist for documentation of the processes.

The hiring of the specialists also helps the project team as their workflow is not disturbed in documenting all the steps.

The stakeholders

They have a direct or indirect interest in the business or firm. A stakeholder can be a person, firm, community, or society. When documenting the processes, all stakeholders should be involved in the process. This will help them in analyzing the steps, and they can give feedback or suggestions timely and accordingly.

Third Parties

In some projects, outsiders are part of the process documentation. This helps you to get an honest opinion about the business practices and provides you with a whole new perspective. Often, observing things from a distance offers clarity, and you can come up with new and efficient ways of doing the tasks.

Process documentation example

Here is an example of process documentation that will help you out during any task. When discussing the project, ensure that all the team members and stakeholders are present so that the project or tasks can be accomplished timely and as desired. You can create your own chart in Weje by the example:

Step 1 – Process Name 

First of all, write the name and a brief description regarding the process on the board or flip chart.

Step 2 – Define Process Boundaries 

Precisely mention the starting and ending points of the process. What are your aims, and what triggers you the most to start the process? How will you know that it is done?

Step 3 – List the Process Outputs 

Identify what you are aiming to produce through the process.

Step 4 – List the Process Inputs 

Pinpoint all the essential things to carry out the process and where you will get them. What are the sources etc.?

Step 5 – Process Activities 

Plan all the activities accordingly. Keep all the things in an easy reach to get the process completed from start to finish. Mention all these in an object format, for example, approvals, signatures, paperwork, distribution forms, etc. Don’t worry about arranging the activities in an order; just brainstorm properly. Sticky notes or our Weje whiteboard are your friends here.

Step 6 – Process Things 

Now, gather the planned things, arrange them in a sequence, and then enter them into the process flow. Try to recognize vital decision points while visualizing the process.

Step 7 – Process Examination 

Now, recheck and examine the things as a quality check. The process should be based on the boundaries defined earlier in Step 2.

Step 8 – Process Responsibilities 

Identify the roles and responsibilities that are involved in the activities and process. Assign a role to every member for each activity step.

Step 9: Process Measures

Identify all the risks associated with the process or task and add control points when observing the process. Create measurements to define the process’s effectiveness and try to improve it.

Step 10 – Process Review 

Get all the team members and stakeholders and review the entire process flow. Don’t forget to obtain approval from all authorities and members.

Lastly, after documenting all the processes, your next step depends on your plan and actions you want to take for your business. If you are already using this approach, we will advise you to look again at each process to find new opportunities and make it more efficient. Process documentation is essential for a business’s productivity business and sustenance.