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A Guide to Process Documentation [+ Templates]

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Businesses of all sizes rely on processes to keep them function smoothly. As your business grows, there are more processes involved and it’s more complicated to keep all employees updated of the changes. This is where process documentation comes in handy.

Let’s explore what process documentation is, why your business needs it and how to create a process document that’s engaging and easy to understand, with templates you can start customizing immediately using Venngage.


 

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What is process documentation?

Process documentation refers to the task of outlining the steps needed to complete a process.

A process document typically includes any types of materials that support documenting a process, including:

  • Checklists
  • Tutorials
  • Forms
  • Visuals
  • Videos
  • Process maps
  • and more

For instance, a process document can include a standard operating procedure (SOP). Here’s an example of an SOP in the form of an escalation matrix:

process documentation


 

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What is the purpose of process documentation?

Businesses can use process documentation for a number of reasons, including:

To ensure consistent operational proficency

Essentially, a process document serves as a tool to help maintain a consistent quality across business processes.

By documenting a process in detail, company helps reduce operational ambiguity for employees and make sure that everyone within or across departments understands how to execute a process to achieve best results.

To train employees

Process documentation is essential for new employee orientation. These documents serve as training materials to help new hires get up to speed with their new roles.

An SOP checklist like this one, for example, helps simplify the blog publishing process for new employees:

process documentation


 

For more SOP templates, check out our post on the top 15+ SOP checklist templates you can use to streamline your business processes.

To preserve knowledge

As important processes are well documented, company won’t have to worry if a key employee leaves and takes the knowledge with them.

To improve processes

As you continuously document business processes, you can notice the differences or the changes between old processes and new ones. This helps employees to find out what’s working and what’s not and make recommendations to improve existing processes.

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How do you write a process document?

Step 1: Identify your process

The first step requires you to define the process value to your operations. This definition gives your process an objective. Plus, you can easily name the process document.

Here’s an example of a process infographic named “How to Use Google Meet”:

process documentation


 

The “What” and “Why” of the process are clearly defined, helping readers know what this process document is meant for. The scope of the process is also clearly identified through this (more detail in the next section).

Step 2: Define its scope

“Task creep” happens when steps from one process overlap with another and create routine redundancies.

It’s important to determine at the beginning what’s going to be covered and what’s not within a process document.

Authors must include their scope definition upon naming and defining the process involved. Doing this helps readers limit the vocabulary’s context and references. As a result, the process documentation becomes much more coherent and easy to understand.

Step 3: Determine the process start and end

Every process has a start point. Programmers declare their variables and containers before adding anything else. Thus, your process must define the variables that initiate the processes involved.

For example, customer service can only start their processes after a customer sends their complaints. Then, they can end the process after support teams have resolved the problems and satisfied the customers.

Here’s an example of an escalation matrix designed for Customer Support team that can be included in a process document after the section about the process start and end:

process documentation


 

Step 4: Determine the process inputs and outputs

List out the resources needed for employees to complete the process—these are the process inputs.

Your objectives dictate the process’ desired outputs, or in other words, what the process will achieve once completed.

Some process documentation don’t include process outputs. However, including them can make your process much more coherent.

Step 5: Break down every step detail of the process

Every activity in your process requires a “verb + object” format to reduce ambiguity in terms of the tasks that need completing. You can write your process activities as “create Trello card,” “escalate problems to Engineering,” or “run program.”

Complex processes that require two or more actions require a sub-step. Sub-steps help break down every process’ step detail. For example “publish a blog post” can have a sub-step set that includes “check the blog post category,” “add tags,” “add featured image,” and more.

All process document authors should make specification a necessity because general process statements will create confusion.

Step 6: Visualize the steps

Including visuals in your process document makes it easier for employees to understand and conceptualize how best to execute the process.

There are many types of visuals you can use to assist with your process documentation, but a flow chart template or a step infographic is often recommended.

Here’s an example of a process flowchart outlining the steps necessary to handle any underiable behavior within a company:

process documentation


 

Step 7: Determine the process task executors

Appoint one or more task executors underneath each process activity.

Process document authors must identify task executors by their job title rather than their name because it helps others understand the duties and responsibilities of each team or company member, no matter the department they’re in.

Step 8: Brainstorm process exceptions or disruptors

Your processes will smoothly run 90% of the time. However, it might need to adapt to some exceptions in some future processes. For example, a waiter will usually seat guests and give menus afterward. However, they can make an exception for guests who have reserved and ordered their food online.

process documentation


 

Some exceptions are more complex than the initial example. Thus, you can use this three-step list to handle exceptions effectively.

  • List potential disruptors: Review your process objectives and outputs. Identify the possible objects and events that might cause disruptions. Lastly, list these disruptions.
  • Create solutions: Create sub-steps to solve these disruptions from the optimal path. Then, assign these sub-steps to the process activity disruptor it intends to solve or optimize.
  • Review solution efficacy: Did the solution solve the issue 100%? Use measurable parameters that help you measure the solution’s performance.

Step 9: Review and test the process

Before implementing the process, gain feedback from all the team members involved in the process and look for areas of improvements.

Once done, employees can start implementing the process and measure its effectiveness along the way. Processes should be reviewed regularly to optimize for job productivity and efficiency.

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More templates to help visualize your process documentation

Here are a few templates to help you visualize your process documentation with numerous approaches.

process documentation


 

This complain resolution flowchart is better used for more complicated processes that require multiple steps with different scenarios.

You can customize this for your own company’s complaint resolution process, or use it for any other more complex processes.

process documentation


 

This is an excellent starting diagram you can use for process documents, especially for short processes.

You can fully swap out all the assets in the 5-step cycle to fit your documentation needs. Upgrade to a Business plan to use My Brand Kit and have all your process documents reflect your brand guidelines.

process documentation


 

This template is the best among all our suggested templates because it clearly indicates the start and end of your process documentation. Plus, it’s an excellent decision-making diagram for any branching process activities.

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In summary: Use visuals to make your process documents easy to follow and understand

Process documents don’t have to be boring and confusing. Now, you can use these tips to create the best written and visualized process documents for your project needs.

Simply sign up for a Venngage account and start customizing your own process document. It’s free to get started.


 

 

 



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