How To Document Your Processes in 30 Minutes A Day

Written by on October 13, 2015 in Process Management with 0 Comments

How To Document 30 Min A Day

Which one of these excuses are you using to avoid documenting your business processes?

  • We have too much work to do and it takes too long?
  • We are waiting until we get new software to document our processes?
  • We have started documenting our processes but we keep getting interrupted and never get back to it to finish?
  • We have great employees who know what to do so we don?t need to document the processes?
  • There are so many processes we do around here we don?t know where to start?

Most of the time, the excuses are just that.  You know it really needs to be done but you don?t want to spend the time and resources to do something that will probably change and you don?t see the immediate value for doing it.  You don?t really know how to do it anyway.  It?s not until a key employee leaves or the new software company asks about your procedures or you are audited that the documentation matters.

Can You Spare 30 Minutes A Day?

30minSounds impossible?  How can you get the documentation done in 30 minutes?  You can?t.  But you can complete one small bite of it.  You know the old question, ?How do you eat an elephant??  The answer is one small bite at a time.  And that?s how you document your processes too?one small piece at a time.

Daily Activities Plan

First of all, you must make documenting your processes a priority for EVERYONE, yourself included.  It doesn?t matter whether the process to be documented is a specific task or knowledge work.  Knowledge work may be more difficult, but a lot more KW can be documented than you might first image.

Next, setup a shared folder somewhere that everyone on your team has access to.  Call it something exciting like:  Documented Processes and Procedures.  Inside the folder, each team member should have a sub-folder with their title.  This is where all of the drafts and final documents will reside.  Be sure to tell everyone where the folders are located so there is no excuse not to use them.

Now, declare the first 30 minutes of each day as Documentation Time.  Before anyone even looks at their email or checks voicemail or answers the phone, they should spend the time in documenting their processes.  This time needs to be protected.  No one should be able to schedule a meeting, answer an email or take a phone call until the 30 minutes have passed.  Be sure you set a good example and don?t let this time morph into other work activities.

How To Get Started

CalendarI?m sure you are thinking that even if you set aside time each day, you still don?t know where to start.  So here?s my suggestion.

  1. Day One ? hold an all staff meeting and share your expectations. Be clear that everyone is expected to complete the work and that you will be monitoring their files.  You could provide them with a template to use so everyone?s documentation has a similar look and feel.
  2. Day Two ? if necessary, conduct a short training on how to document procedures. You may need to review flow charting, making screen shots and inserting pictures into a document.  Ask your staff what they need help with and provide assistance.  It might be good to hold a training one day a week for a while until everyone is up-to-speed and has asked all of their questions.
  3. Day Three ? Ask everyone to spend the 30 minutes in making a list of all of the tasks (knowledge work activities) that they perform each day. That?s it.  Just make the list.  As you document processes, you will think of others to include and just update it as you think about it.
  4. Day Four ? Prioritize your list of tasks. Put the list in an Excel spreadsheet and save it to your folder.  You could use a high-medium-low system, or simply number the tasks in the order to be documented.  There is no right or wrong here.  It?s just a way to identify where to start.
  5. Day Five and Beyond ? Start documenting your first task. When that one is drafted, start on the next one.  Continue until all of your tasks are at least in draft form.

Following Up

It?s a good idea to make sure you include an update from every person during a staff meeting or at least a weekly email update.  Identify any problems they are having getting the drafts done.  Provide assistance as needed.

Once the drafts are completed, it?s a good idea to validate them.  One easy way to do this is to give the draft to someone who has never done the task and see what?s missing or inaccurate.  Fix the drafts as part of your Daily Activities Plan.

Next Steps

Folders Showing Organizing And DataIf you make documentation a priority and block out a small portion of the day just for that activity, within a few weeks you will have completed a lot more than you would have ever thought possible.  The key is to do it before the press of work makes it impossible.  The better you focus and protect that first 30 minutes each day, the more you will get accomplished.

If you would like help in implementing your documentation efforts, let us know.  At Miller Productivity, we specialize in helping organizations get their documentation done in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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