At the core of every business is its processes. You perform them every day, but have you ever taken the time to actually map them out and document them? Representing your workflow in this way offers a number of benefits for your business. One key benefit is that onboarding and training new employees becomes much easier.
Representing Your Business Processes Visually
The best way to document your business processes is to do it visually. It’s much easier for a new staff member to understand the workflow from a diagram representation than a piece of text content.
Business processes are basically mapped out in flow charts or variations of flow chart. A flow chart shows each step of a process in a square or other shape connected by lines or arrows. It illustrates how the task moves from start to finish.
Beyond the Flow Chart
Flow charts offer the most basic visual representation, but there are a few variations on this type of diagram that are useful for business processes.
The Swimlane Diagram. A swimlane diagram shows a process from start to finish but divides it into “lanes.” These are columns for different stakeholders, facilities, departments, or resources. It shows more clearly who is responsible for which part of a task.
Value Stream Map. A value stream map is a more complicated diagram where the work doesn’t just flow one way but in all directions. It’s useful for complex tasks that require multiple departments and stages, or that might be modular.
Seek Stakeholder Feedback
Don’t document your business processes all alone. Seek the advice and feedback of other stakeholders, especially if they’re the ones that are usually in charge of the process. You’ll also want feedback after documentation to make sure it’s clear and easy to understand.
Start with the Big Picture
When teaching new employees a process, you have to start by giving them the big picture view of the task. Explain where this task fits into your overall business and what specific goal it’s meant to achieve. At the beginning of the process, give them the resources and tools they need and what other preparations there are, if any. For your documentation, you may start with a brief summary that explains this.
Create an Archive of Resources
Create an archive of all your business processes and make it available to staff members. Encourage them to refer to these protocols as they learn. It will take some time before the job becomes second nature to them.
Why You Should Document Your Business Processes
Documenting your business processes helps you to train new team members. But it can also help in other ways. By investigating each process closely, you can look at ways to streamline and improve, making your business more efficient.
You can also look for ways to standardize, delegate, outsource, or automate, saving you more time and making life generally easier for everyone in your organization.