Following on from my most recent post, this post looks into what exactly is included in a Process Document. If this is all new to you, you may want to look at this post first.
The way that you record your processes will be unique to your business. I know, I know, always going on about uniqueness which potentially throws a spanner in the works when offering advice. But there is no one size fits all! However, I will walk through some of the more generic steps in this blog post which should give you a really handy guide for where to start.
What is a Process Document?
Just to recap, a Process Document is a step-by-step guide outlining how to undertake a specific task, what is involved and what information you need to complete it.
A Process Manual is the collection of all these documents.
Why create Process Documents?
This series of blogs has all been about allowing your business to grow by systemising some of your repetitive processes. That is certainly my number one reason for creating a Process Manual. However, here are some more benefits:
1. Systemising your processes will help when taking on new staff (contract or freelance).
2. It helps you to identify weaknesses in the way that you are currently doing things and therefore allows for improvements.
3. It helps you to mitigate the risk of forgetting to undertake certain aspect of tasks which could damage your reputation or cost you money.
4. Saves you money (in several different ways) by avoiding repetitive tasks, wasting time searching for different documentation and training staff many different times.
5. It can get you on your way to automating, as a clear map of how your processes work will allow you to identify where these automation's may take place.
What to include in your Process Documents
As I mentioned above, not all businesses will need to include the same sections, but there are many things that will be synonymous across the majority of businesses. Examples below are from my own blog writing process document:
1. Process title and brief purpose. This will quickly help you to identify whether the process document is required or not.
Fortnightly blog posting onto the website and sharing on social media as part of overall marketing strategy.
2. Boundaries – what triggers the process to start and how do you know when it has ended. This may not be required for some processes but for others you will want to be absolutely clear that all steps have been undertaken (like when onboarding a client, or offboarding a client. More about that in another post!)
Starts – in line with the blog writing schedule
Finishes – once the Mailchimp email has been scheduled.
3. Access required – which websites etc. will you need access to.
Wix (my website)
Linktr.ee (for adding the link to my Instagram account)
Facebook (for writing a post to alert to a new blog)
Buffer (for scheduling the post)
Mailchimp (to send an email to my audience to alert them to the new post)
Note. I do not include the passwords to these different sites in the document, I have central storage for those. Thinking long term, if I changed one of these passwords I would then have to change the password in every Process Document which would be very time-consuming. By having central storage, the password just needs changing in one place.
4. Document links – which other documents do you need to use to complete this process?
Excel doc – blog schedule
Excel doc – cross-reference of all blog posts and their internal links to other posts. (This makes it quick and easy for me to update links on my website if I take a post down.)
Word doc – hashtags
5. Step-by-step process – sequential order of the steps undertaken to complete the task. This should be a brief overview and not include links and detail. It is a birds eye view of the process.
Write the blog post in Word, spell and sense check.
Upload blog to Wix, spell and sense check again.
Source 2/3 images and complete the advanced information.
Copy and paste the URL for use on social media.
Linktr.ee – add the link in and take off the previous ‘new blog’ link.
Instagram – use Buffer to schedule a post using one of the images.
Facebook – schedule a post using one of the images from the blog post.
Mailchimp – Set up a campaign on Mailchimp to go to all subscribers of the Time-saving blog.
6. Procedure – go into detail about each step above and include any document links or internet links etc. This should be a thorough explanation of how to undertake each of the above e.g.
STEP 6: Write ¾ paragraphs and always include an invitation to sign up to the blog and for comments. Use one relevant, ideally not a classic stock image photo from the blog on the post. Include at least 20 hashtags from the following location xxx, and include any more specific ones that are relevant.
7. Probe – checks to undertake to make sure that the process is undertaken correctly:
When live, check that all the links work.
Send test email before it goes out and check links.
Spell check at least twice.
8. Add the date it was created. And if you make significant changes, add that date.
Additional steps that may be useful in your business
1. Process owner – in a slightly larger business, one person may be the holder of all processes, or different people. Outline this in the document if necessary as to sign post where to go for updates.
2. A process flow chart map – if it is a complex process, with slightly different pathways, visualizing it on a map may be useful for you and your team (even if you don’t have a team yet!)
3. If your team is outsourced or you have a small team, identifying who undertakes each step may be useful. It is easier to make sure your Process Documents are up to date if you reference job titles rather than personal names.
4. If it is a particularly complex process, you may want to be clear at the beginning what is NOT covered under the scope of the process. There may be the requirement for a link to another process.
It is good practice to make sure that everyone of your Process Documents has the same core sections. This makes it easy for people to pick up and understand each process as they work on your business.
These documents should be reviewed at least annually, however it will be more relevant to review when things change in your business, if you take staff / contractors on etc.
I mentioned up there about Process Documents linking to your Onboarding…well of course I did! Look out for the next blog post where I will be exploring how to Process Document your customer journey.
Don’t want to miss it? Sign up here!
Got questions, get in touch. I’m very friendly and love to help!