It happens pretty often. An employee is suddenly absent (either temporarily or permanently) while the rest of the staff scrambles to figure out processes that the absent employee used. Documenting those processes can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is important to take it one process at a time.
As I prepare to go on maternity leave, I have been documenting processes regularly used at Nonprofit Network to ensure a smooth transition while I'm gone. I started by first making of list of all the processes that I carry out on a regular basis. Then I focused on recording the steps of one process per day. By working on a single process at a time, I can be thorough in detailing each step.
5 Tips to Build a Process Anyone Can Use
1) Store processes in an accessible, easy to find spot.
Use a storage method that works best for your office. Consider using a wiki page or collaborative application, such as Office365, Google Docs, or Quip.
2) Use a standard format with each process.
Format the processes in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Title each process, use an easy-to-read font, and use headings where appropriate. Don’t write all processes on one long document. Separate each process on its own document.
3) Be concise, but clear.
Don’t write too much that it prevents someone from wanting to read the process. At the same time, provide enough information for one to understand the process. Include definitions, use bullet points, insert screenshots, and/or utilize flowcharts. The key is to make it as simple and clear as possible.
4) Make editing easier by keeping processes organized.
Date and initial each process every time it is edited, and avoid using names of employees (use position titles instead), and build a table of contents.
5) Test your processes.
It’s possible something was left out or is unclear. Make sure someone proofreads or edits your processes. After a process has been tested once, continue to test it quarterly or yearly. Make changes if necessary.
It can be difficult to figure out how to carry out another person’s job responsibilities without some type of documentation. It's one of the most important steps that anyone can do and everyone should do. It's absolutely critical to succession planning.
Don’t be a scrambler – make sure office processes are well documented.
Documenting office processes and procedures not only prevents others from having to reinventing the wheel, but it also promotes consistency and efficiency. As I have been documenting processes, I’ve noticed areas where improvements can be made. Documentation allows the opportunity to improve an organization and have it run more efficiently.
Give us a call at 517-796-4750 if you want to have a conversation about how you can manage this process
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