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What is a process document

If you find yourself researching the topic of process documents, then you may be wondering where to start. Stick around and I’ll answer the basics of the who, why, and how of process documents. Let’s begin with “What is a process document?”

What is a Process Document?

In short, process documentation is best defined as a step-by-step process that outlines the course of actions needed to complete a task from beginning to end. This can often refer to the “how” of your business. 

What is included in process documentation? 

Some pretty essential components to process documentation can include:

  • Checklists
  • Tutorials/modules
  • Diagrams/pictures/videos ( any form of visual representation)
  • Company Policy and Procedures

What is the purpose of process documentation? 

Documenting the process of an entire project is not necessary. However, suppose you can determine where employees begin to slow down in the process. In that case, a business process document can help standardize and maintain a certain degree of quality to the projects your company handles.

The applications of process documentation are only limited to someone who refuses to acknowledge a company issue. Otherwise, the possibilities are almost infinite. 

Here are the different purposes a process document serves through various examples and some of its applications:

A real estate agent could generate more sales if they hire a technical writer to outline the process of future first-time homeowners purchasing a house. Granted, a real estate agent can do this in person, but it is essential to consider that every person likes to go at their own pace. 

Another example is that higher-quality chain restaurants could benefit from process documentation. Did you know that the restaurant industry has one of the highest turnover rates at 74.9%

You can only imagine how much time is wasted having to train employees. Employee training manuals already serve that purpose, but I’m referring to consistently creating quality food for a chain restaurant like the Slutty Vegan. I mean, their whole objective is to sell quality vegan food, so they need to maintain a standard. 

To keep it short, the same concept can be said for many industries that need a process document. Such as:
  • Communicating with a client in customer service.
  • The process of pitching sales to prospective clients.
  •  Bug testing process in engineering and software development.
  • Even in marketing, there needs to be a process for publishing an article/blog post.

There are ways in which process documentation can benefit your business. I encourage you to evaluate your business and identify areas to eliminate errors, reduce busy work, appropriately allocate resources, streamline work processes, and enhance communication.

What are similar types of documentation?

Process documentation does not have specific derivatives, but I would say the list below is like a list of related cousins.

There are many forms of documentation, and if you want to know about one that fits your needs, you can contact us to speak with one of our professional technical writers. 

How do you write a Process Document?

So how do you create process documentation? This section will cover step-by-step everything you need to get started. You could even call this a process document itself. 

1 Identify the errors and figure out a name for the process document you are creating

Once you have identified the area in your business that needs improvement, identifying why and how your business can benefit from documenting a process is essential. The rest of the company must know and be on board with adopting a new process that can break old habits. It is also a good idea to briefly describe the objective.

2. Define the process scope and parameters 

A brief statement will sufficiently describe what is included in the process scope. Then it would be best if you established the parameters.

It is essential to define the parameters of the process; otherwise, you could get off track. As I mentioned earlier, it is optional to document the process of an entire project. Every project is unique, and your company will benefit more if you can establish where the process of a task begins and ends.

3. What are the process outputs?

In this section, you will need to visualize with the development team and establish what your process document will yield; what will it achieve once the process is complete?

4. What are the process inputs

Consider the allocation of your resources so that you can quantify what and how much you will need. This way, your company will save valuable resources, whether time or an object.

5 Plan out prospective process steps

Consider what exactly triggers the process and what ends the process. Also, consider at what point and in which order the input comes into play. Once you know the order, you can start piecing together significant steps. 

It is important not to stuff many steps together, nor is it a good idea to make lots of sub-steps. Process steps need to be understandable and precise so that you can move to the next step. It is also a good practice to have the people who will complete the process weigh in with their opinions. They might have valuable input on better ways to achieve a step.

Once you have listed all the steps with the required input, take some time to look at the overview and consider if specific steps should be moved, combined, or eliminated. The objective is to get the process document in sequential order. Consider making a flowchart to help the team visualize the process.

Note: Address potential exceptions to the process. Additionally, consider adding a way to measure improvements. Measurements will help you determine the effectiveness of the process document.

6. Identify positions and roles (mainly used for businesses)

Identify the people directly involved who will need to reference the process documentation. It is a good practice to mention the people’s job titles rather than names. This is because it keeps the document professional and keeps the document consistent if there is a change in personnel. 

Describe the roles that each person will need to assume during the process. Furthermore, you need to describe the roles in language that can be comprehensive to anyone reading the document. 

7. Trial run the process document

This is the last step before you finalize the process document. It’s time to gather the team and run through the process a few times. Figure out if you reached your desired output. Within each trial run, discuss if certain aspects are lacking, you may need more input and steps. It may take several rounds with the development team before finalizing your process document.

What is the best way to document a process? 

Some of the best practices for creating a process document stem from a technical writer’s skill, and they are: 
  • Keep steps simple and concise 
  • Easy to follow
  • Technically accurate
  • Make the process document easy to edit
  • Easy Accessibility to all involved parties
  • Add visual representation such as flow charts etc.
  • Re-analyze at least once a year to ensure your process document complies with company policies.

These are some of the most commonly used best practices. However, as you get more users to your process document, you will be able to develop some unique techniques exclusive to your business.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, process documentation is a step-by-step process that outlines the actions needed to complete a complex task from beginning to end. 

When a process document is done correctly, your business could benefit from reduced busy work, eliminated errors, streamlined the process, allocated resources accordingly, enhanced communication, and retained knowledge. 

Creating your process document is not rocket science. The team here at Essential Data Corporation encourages everyone to try it. However, if you need more professional help or would like to expedite the process faster, feel free to reach out.

Either way, good luck with your documentation!!

How Essential Data Corporation can help you 

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or to get started.