Why Does Business Process Documentation Matter?

Written by on October 7, 2015 in Process Management with 0 Comments

Too much workIf you are like most business owners or managers, you are probably feeling a bit uncomfortable right now as you read this question. You know that documenting your business processes is important. Yet, you can’t bring yourself to feel that it’s critical to your business operations. It’s something that you plan to “get around to” someday.

One excuse that I hear is that the changing environment makes documenting processes futile. It’s not that the documents will be out-of-date quickly; it’s that you don’t have the time or resources to get it done. Changing market conditions, increased competition, changing personnel and product changes all contribute to your postponing the documentation process.

So why does documenting your business processes matter?

Those very same reasons you give for postponing your documentation efforts are the very reasons you should be doing it.

Stock market graphChanging Market Conditions means that your company needs to be agile and adjust to the changes in the market quickly. It’s really difficult to change your internal processes to meet the changing environment if you don’t really understand the processes you are currently using in your business to meet customer demands. If your critical business processes are documented, you have a much better chance of monitoring those processes to achieve your company’s goals. You can’t monitor and track what you don’t understand.

Increased competition means that you need to be doing a better job at providing goods and services your clients want in the most effective and efficient manner. When you have documented your processes, you can use that information to streamline operations and make changes in processes to give you a competitive advantage. By improving your processes, you can consistently provide quality products and services that your customers love which means they will be able to resist your competitor’s offers.

Employees LeaveEmployees leave. Sometimes you know in advance and can plan for it. Other times, it’s a surprise. Even something as simple as a two week vacation can wreak havoc on a business. Having your processes documented means that others can step in and pick up the slack of someone who is away. It can also make training new employees much easier. You have the actual procedures the new employee needs to follow documented. You aren’t relying upon the memory or bad habits of your staff to do the training.

Product changes can also negatively affect the organization if you don’t know what your current processes are. Knowing how a change in one area can affect others is critical for a smooth product transition. If you don’t have your processes documented, you won’t know until its too late how changes in your products will affect your organization and your customers.

Everything you need to do to run your business should be in some sort of documentation.

This prevents you from “reinventing the wheel” each time a project is introduced into the organization. It also ensures that those activities that are only performed once or twice a year are done without a lot of re-education on the part of your staff. They don’t have to try to remember what they did or how the process works; it’s there for their review.

Files On Laptop Showing Organized DocumentsDocumenting processes should be a part of every person’s responsibility. The documents should be a living document that is used frequently and updated on a regular basis. It doesn’t do any good to document a process, put it in a binder on a shelf and never look at it again.

Getting your critical business processed documented the first time can be a challenge. Most people don’t really understand how to do it or don’t want to do it. Consider hiring an expert to help you identify which business processes need to be documented and those that don’t. A Business Process Management Consultant can help your staff with the documentation process or even do it for you. You don’t have to do it alone.

For more information about Business Process Documentation and how Business Process Management Consulting can help your organization, contact Deb Miller at MillerProductivity.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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