If you are running a one-man business, it’s likely that process documentation is not much of a consideration for you as you know every process by heart. However, as your company grows, keeping a record of how to get things done becomes essential, especially when outsourcing is involved.
The following short story really highlights why process documentation is so essential.
Once, there was a recital organiser who was excited and anxious at the same time as his performers were preparing to go on stage in just a few hours. Suddenly, someone broke the news that the pianist couldn’t make it. His excitement vanished, and all he felt was a terrible pounding in his chest. He did, however, have a friend who also happened to be a great pianist who could be a good replacement. The only problem was that he had never played most of the pieces that were to be performed.
The recital ended, and can you guess what happened? It could have been a disaster, but instead, it turned out wonderfully and the performers even received a standing ovation. The whole show was saved by the sheet music, which allowed the new pianist to perform the music pieces perfectly with just a few hours of practice.
Process documentation is sheet music for businesses
Like sheet music, process documentation allows staff to learn how to perform a task quickly and easily by providing a clear outline of steps to accomplish a process. It is a roadmap that can prevent a business’ processes from becoming offbeat.
To achieve consistency, all tasks that are repeatable and go through the hands of multiple people should be documented. Without proper documentation, your business processes can become unreliable and inconsistent, with each process being modified each time someone new does them. It would be similar to playing the children’s game ‘Telephone’ or ‘Chinese Whispers’, where one person has a message, and a line of people each whisper it to each other down the line. In the end, the message usually becomes completely unrecognisable.
Easy knowledge transfer
Process documentation makes training your new hires a lot faster and less taxing for both of you. This is particularly true when you are outsourcing. Since you can’t personally go to your offshore staff’s workstation every time they have questions about how to do this or that, process documentation can usually provide the answers.
Likewise, when a team member takes a leave, be it a local staff member or an outsourced team member, the impact on your business would be greatly minimised if other staff can easily take over the tasks with the guidance of clearly defined processes. Just like the new pianist who seamlessly covered for the other pianist who didn’t make it to the recital.
Through a well-written process documentation, businesses can easily identify which procedures need to be changed or improved. It also allows you to spot and eliminate irrelevant steps and duplicated work. For businesses, this prevents delays and wasted resources, such as time, money, and your staff’s energy—making your processes more efficient.
Constantly improving and polishing your processes results in better productivity and higher quality outputs, and isn’t that what we are all aiming for?
To keep the harmony between your in-house and offshore processes, there must be a common set of practices that can keep your whole organisation in sync no matter where they are. Process documentation can serve as your sheet music and have you hitting all of the right keys.