Select Page

It’s As Easy As 1,2,3: Process Documentation and You

By semantic standards, process means movement in a physical or a mental sense. People can make ontological arguments at the same time someone makes a sandwich. Simply, one part of processing is making steps and the second part is adhering to steps. It sounds a bit militaristic, or regulated.  This is because order informs it — then again, order informs most things.  Businesses particularly need processes in order to function effectively, and for this they use process documentation to make sure information on those processes can be preserved and used.

What is Process Documentation?

Two people looking at a booklet, representing the importance of a quick reference guide.

Process documentation is quite simply a type of documentation that details how to complete a process.  It describes each of the steps involved in the process and the process’s purpose.  Process documentation is often initially written as the process in question is being performed.  This documentation is a valuable resource, and is used by businesses in every industry.  This is because many of the aspects of and activities involved in the functions of most businesses tend to be processes.

Why Do We Need Process?

Most everything follows a process, including us, and though the steps can be different, the act of creating a plan stays quite the same. We need a purpose behind it, or the steps risk not making any sense. It is like if we start running a race from one place to another and have no idea why we need to finish it. A reward? Esteem? Maybe we happen to be looking for a change in our exercise routine – the higher the octane, the more justified – and implementing order risks an onset of boredom. We despise spontaneity for reasons no more understandable than why we have a compulsion for order.

In some fashion, we know what order provides us. Free of charge, save possibly mental, we get stability, clarity, familiarity, etc., all of which are applicable to business and, should we get specific, documentation.  Processes and process documentation, therefore, allow us to establish a degree of order – and obtain the benefits it brings – in everyday activities and work.

Why is Process Documentation Important?

Process documentation plays a vital role in businesses.  It acts as an easily-accessible source of instruction that employees can refer back to as needed to learn how to perform important tasks.  Without process documentation, important information about necessary processes would be limited to those with prior experience with said processes – or worse, that information could be permanently lost.  In addition, process documents can be used to help with training new employees in the processes that their duties involve.  Process documents can also help to create a for longer-term such as projects

What Does Process Documentation Entail?

Business does not exclusively own these types of documents. The fact I am about to quote Indeed amounts to a looser association with bureaucracy than you might expect. Indeed lists case studies, checklists, policies, process maps, and tutorials as part of its definition of process documentation. These examples have similar genre characteristics: they include step-by-step organization, explanatory language and transitions, simple layout, and an aim toward leaving the document to go and carry out its directions. Process documentation is only one step that precedes the other steps. As far as intricate prose goes, the style will feature intricate detail, mostly technical and of an instructional tone it takes a certain type of novelist or writer to pull off.

It is not too big a stretch, then, to assume technical writers are the right type for the job.  Technical writers specialize in making complicated information clearer and easier to understand, which is very helpful considering how detailed process documents are, as previously mentioned. You and a French dictionary can probably get part of the way through translating an article in Le Monde, but a native English speaker who also happens to know French will finish the job in half the time.

Still, writers can go beyond the writing. Depending on the type of process documentation you’re making, you may need a team — at the least, a couple of people — that focuses on coordination and disaster prevention. You need a lead role, a manager, to keep it all in order, and by all, I mean the workload, the productivity, the deadlines, and the morale. In the instance that this person is not also organizing and writing the documents, other roles should be assigned.

Documentation In The Workplace

Yolanda Lau of the Forbes Human Resources Council refers to this set-up as having a “documentation-first mindset” that involves “preparing and regularly updating documentation in advance” of, in her example, onboarding new employees. Published last year, her article is titled “Remote Work: Creating A Documentation-First Culture” and explores the possibilities of translating in-person experiences to remote meetings.

It seems that experience can be misrepresented and has become, in fact, shorthand for wonder and a good time. Few people, unfortunately, see flipping through a pile of policies as an experience worth repeating, so it ought to be a given that sometimes, experience is boring. Ms. Lau refers to the experiences where employees read the company manuals on how to use their computers or, if the company has purchased Microsoft Office, how to input different formulas into Excel spreadsheets.

Ms. Lau is similarly fond of “project-based organization” as a term that triggers a particular buzz for the productivity minded. Essentially, it involves what we have already covered.  The collaboration that must take place to see the work come together cohesively. She prefers “project-based” to “role-based,” a distinction in focus, specifically a central focus, a bit like a New Year’s resolution. Her preference does away with a rote emphasis on duties and reinvigorates the workplace with a common goal that could change per quarter.

A mix is necessary, and the same holds true with leadership styles.  Nonetheless, a culture that values projects also values efficiency and commitment, the latter a good one-word description of process documentation. It’s as easy as 1,2,3.

We’re The Team For You!

Unsurprisingly, process documentation needs a process of its own. If you need help figuring out parameters or how to better optimize the routines you have, then drop us a line. Want a few technical writers? Essential Data has plenty, and on top of that, we have experience: over 34 years of it. Check out some of our related content below:


How EDC can Help

Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or


By Will Boswell