Build great Teams – People management

Documented Processes – Why They’re So Valuable

Documented Processes – Why They’re So Valuable

Documented processes are key to running a business consistently. They save you time when doing tasks you may not do very often. You can use them to keep track as you improve how you do things so you can keep moving forwards. Documented processes are vital for getting new hires going quickly. Use a documented induction process to make sure nothing gets forgotten.

They’re vital for all staff – not just new hires. Use them as a common starting point for a discussion if someone’s not doing a task the way they should be. If someone’s away – someone else can use them to step in and cover a task. If someone leaves, others can use them to help take over until you find a replacement. They keep knowledge inside the company so you don’t lose it when an employee leaves.

Documented Processes For Induction

Let’s start by looking at induction which is one time in particular that having documented processes is key. Start by documenting the induction process itself!

When you find the right person to join your company, you need to harness their energy and keep them motivated. How do you do that? Create and use a consistent and well thought out induction process or program. As a small business you might start out with a checklist, but this will probably quickly turn into a mixture of a checklist and a series of documented processes you can refer to.

You will probably set a probationary period where you evaluate your new employee. During that time, if you follow a documented induction process you will know you have shared everything you need to. You can then make a fair assessment of the new employee. If you provide training and support with a structured program or process, and your new hire does not reach the standard required, it could be that the job is not for them. If you’ve not given them all the information they need, you can’t judge whether they’re doing well or not.

The Induction Process Itself

Help your new hire become productive as quickly as possible. Keep them busy, but don’t overwhelm them. Make sure different people can help support induction, and that everyone involved can see what information to share, when. Using a checklist means everyone can see what’s been done and what hasn’t – nothing gets forgotten. Spending time with different people helps the new hire get to know the rest of the team.

Where possible, set things up so the new hire can learn on their own. Use a series of documented processes that they can refer to for the tasks they’ll need to do. They can use these to learn, but can also refer back to these in future.

It’s easy to forget the things that are second nature to you. That’s where a checklist will remind you. Tell them about your products, services, and technical or operational processes. Cover health and safety requirements. They’ll need to know the little things like where the toilets are and where can they get coffee. Tell them what you expect them to do, today, in the short term and in the longer term.

Structure your induction program so it makes sense to a new hire. Make it as straightforward as possible to avoid confusion and make sure that information is presented at the right level at the right time over the first few days, weeks and months.

Documented Processes For Ongoing Business

When you set up an induction process you’ll need to create documented processes for the tasks you want the new hire to learn. These are processes that the new hire can refer to later, but they are also relevant to existing staff. Over time encourage your team to help document all your processes. A documented process is a reference you can use in performance management. If everyone follows the same workflow, you can compare people. Is one person working more or less quickly, or accurately?

People become more self-sufficient if they can refer to a documented process to answer their questions or to remind them. It will prevent the team wasting time reinventing the wheel for tasks they don’t do very often.

You can use your documented processes if an employee moves internally within your company. For example, someone moving from a technical role to a sales role. Much of what they need to know about working in your business will already be second nature to them, but anything particular to Sales may not.

Get your team to document the processes they follow, so that a colleague can cover for them if they’re away. Even more importantly, if someone leaves, they won’t be taking all their knowledge with them. The rest of the team can follow their documented processes to provide cover and a new hire can use them to get up to speed quickly.

Documented Processes – Keep It Simple

You’ll need to document a lot of workflows and processes, especially if you have nothing documented now. This might seem like a huge mountain to climb. Work on it slowly. Get existing employees and new employees to contribute as they do the workflows as part of their jobs.

These documents don’t need to be beautiful, just functional, and screen grabs are a great and quick way to build a simple process document. Think of these as a series of living documents that will grow and develop as your company evolves. You need to make sure it’s continuously, but you don’t need to create all the documents yourself.

Finally, keep your process documents up-to-date. Review them on a rolling basis, as people use them (particularly new hires). You won’t have time to go through them all formally on a regular basis.

You’ll never finish documenting your processes! Your company’s constantly evolving and all the things your team need to know will be evolving with it. If everyone takes a few minutes to grab some screen grabs and jot a few notes about the workflow they’re doing now, in next to no time you’ll have a set of documents to use. They don’t need to be pretty, they just need to be functional.

My Question To You

Do you have an induction process? Do you have most of your processes documented? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


About the Author:

Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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