Without clearly documented processes you are committing to experiencing recurring, day-to-day problems and frustrations in your business. These problems are both costly and detrimental to your business and yet are 100% AVOIDABLE.
Why businesses struggle to document their processes
Let’s face it. Early days in your business is like something straight out of the movie The Perfect Storm, trying to survive in a massive storm onboard a small fishing vessel. Just when you think you’ve survived the worst of it you realize everything up until now was actually the prelude to the real deal and you’re headed straight for the eye of the storm.
Needless to say, things are constantly changing in your business which makes it even more challenging to get things down on paper.
And with constant change comes the challenge of choosing where to focus your time and energy. Likely meaning documentation and finding better ways to train your employees hasn’t even registered in your periphery of importance.
But what IF…
Your star employee suddenly ups and quit tomorrow?
Or worse, you suddenly became unable to work in your business due to illness.
Would your business continue to operate? Would your staff know what to do? If the answer is no then now is the time to start documenting your processes. Now is the time to start building that blue print for your business so you can teach anyone how to run your business regardless of whether you are working in it day to day.
How to Start Documenting your Processes
Documenting your processes starts with:
- Identifying what you do
- Documenting how you do it
Identifying your day-to-day tasks and processes
Start by having you and your team list all the tasks they do:
- every day
- every week
- every month
- every quarter
If you think you may be missing some tasks, try reviewing your calendar to jog your memory.
Next, compile yours and your team’s tasks in a spreadsheet, and identify who is responsible for each task. This exercise, otherwise known as a responsibility matrix, is meant to provide clarity on who does what. Lack of clarity is often why staff miss or overlooked things, assuming it’s someone else responsibility.
Documenting how you do it
Once you’ve determined WHO does WHAT, have each individual write out their process for completing their tasks.
When they’ve finished documenting have them share the document with the rest of the team either via Google Docs, Dropbox paper or whatever may be your preference, the point being the document must be ACCESSIBLE and EASY TO FIND for everyone.
Keeping your processes up to date
As I said earlier, change in your business is inevitable, meaning you’ll need to develop a process for keeping your documentation up to date.
From time to time have your staff re-read their own instructions and try to follow them as if for the first time. If anything is unclear or outdated have them revise accordingly. To make it easier to communicate and track changes amongst staff consider utilizing a software like Trainual. Software like Trainual allows you to store your company processes, create online quizzes and training material, as well as track staff progress as they work through the materials.
Sandra Graham is the founder of Get Simple Systems, focused on helping small businesses and franchised companies get their business out of their head and down on paper so they can grow and scale efficiently. With a background in operations and strategic planning, Sandra has over a decade of experience working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors across various industries including Health, Education, Food and Beverage, and Tech.
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