Unfortunately, having these steps only in your head or in the memory of one of your employees leaves you and your business vulnerable. If you need to take a sick day or a family vacation, who will manage those processes when you’re gone? And if an employee decides to leave, how will you keep your business afloat without their know-how of the required daily tasks?
Just as raising a child, you hope that your business will one day be stable enough to run on its own, independent of you and your team’s specific knowledge. The dream of a business that can withstand employee churn and family vacation time, giving you the freedom that only comes with being a successful business owner, was probably what got you into the business to begin with. But how do you get to this sought-after freedom and stability?
Documenting your business processes is the key to achieving this. With properly documented tasks, processes and systems for every part of your business, you should be able to leave it in the hands of anyone qualified to perform those processes, knowing that it will continue to run consistently without you.
Retracing Your Steps Seems Counterintuitive and Time Consuming
It might seem counterintuitive to take up time writing out the processes you’ve already got down to a T, but the benefits will extend far beyond this upfront set-up time and will eventually lead to more flexibility in your team and work schedule and allow you to pinpoint areas for improvement and select processes for automation and scaling.
Although starting from zero sounds a bit daunting, the Process Consultant believes that you’re probably not alone, acknowledging that many companies start from small beginnings when documenting untested processes seems a waste of time. “It’s only after the company grows that it begins to become clear that there is a real need for some documentation,” he says.
The Best Time to Start Is Now
Fortunately, the processes of your business already exist, and documenting them is a fairly simple exercise that your whole team can work on. Whether you’re a one-man-show startup or a growing, multi-employee business, the first step is to determine the processes to begin with.
If you have an employee who needs to be trained or is leaving, a task that needs to be delegated or an area of your business that urgently needs improvement, these processes would be a great starting place for documenting. Simply write out each task that is performed in that process and make sure that if the documented process were handed to a new employee, he or she would be able to easily execute the task by following your guidelines.
Documentation Is the Foundation of Success
The team at StepShot examined how poor process documentation affects companies, specifically in the IT world, and concluded that “good documentation forms the backbone of a company’s success.” Further, Lena Requist, Ontraport’s President, believes that making excuses for not documenting processes within your business will lead to poor outcomes when looking to scale.
Landon Ray, Ontraport’s CEO and Founder, agrees, saying, “By creating processes that the team can use to get work done without counting on you to manage all of the ins and outs, you can create time for yourself to focus on the jobs that only you can do.”
The Benefits of Documented Processes
With so much riding on your business’s ability to document the processes behind the genius, starting to catalog every task performed in the office today is the shortest path to future scaling and improvement. Keeping detailed records of your internal processes will allow you to:
- Delegate the tasks that don’t require your specific skills and knowledge, freeing up time for you to work on more important areas of your business.
- Scale the processes you have in place now to help your business — and your profits — grow.
- Predict the outcomes of each process every time it’s performed so you can create consistent experiences for your employees and customers.
- Locate areas of your business that can be improved with automation so your workforce can focus more on tasks that require the creativity and intelligence of a human.
- Measure the results of your processes more accurately due to consistency within the results so you can find areas for improvement.
- Leave your business in the hands of employees when necessary, knowing that they have all the processes needed to keep the business afloat so you can take more needed vacation and family time without the stress.
If you’re interested in using a detailed, step-by-step worksheet to assist you in the documentation of your processes, the Process Creator worksheet offers an easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank template that allows you to catalog each internal business task and includes all the additional notes and tools necessary to complete the process.