Process documentation clearly outlines the critical tasks that take place in a company. They eliminate confusion among employees and put all members of a company on the same page. A process document defines what the current processes in a company are. By identifying current practices, you often unearth flaws in the current system and see room for improvement. Process documentation also allows the company to adjust more quickly to changing business needs. Clearly outlining your company’s current functions will better allow the company to move forward.
Determine the scope of the document. You can document every process within a company or in larger companies, focus on one set of processes. For example, a large corporation might want to start with only their accounting functions, instead of documenting the entire workings of the organization.
Draft a one-page, visual representation of the processes. Include an applicability matrix, an outline of who is responsible for each task or a process flow diagram. A process flow diagram is a high-level representation of the various steps to complete a process and how the steps flow through the organization. For example, the various steps to paying an invoice could be outlined with a process flow chart.
Explain the impact the process has on products and services. Detail the effects of normal operations and the effects a failure in the process would cause. For example, if invoices are lost and don’t get paid, the supplier will refuse to ship the next order.
Define the roles within the process. Identify the roles by their job function and not by individual. For example, accounts payable clerks process the invoices and enter them into the system for payment. The controller approves the invoices and authorizes payment.
Outline all of the computer systems and software used within the process. Clearly define each system, its purpose and its functionality.
Document the process from beginning to end. Use your process flow diagram as a guide for drafting the text. Include as much detail as possible, depending on the scope you have chosen to include in the document. Use role names to assign responsibility rather than individual names.
Include a section for exceptions. Document what happens when the normal process flow is not followed. For example, when computer systems are down, a paper-based accounting system is enacted to process invoices.
Review the process document with all impacted parties. Make sure everyone is in agreement about the processes.
Lisa East Hunter is a consultant and freelance writer in Phoenix. Her background in marketing and technology led her to explore all avenues of writing. She is currently dividing her time between freelance writing and her consulting business. Hunter has a Bachelor of Science in management information systems and marketing.