Strategies such as automation and outsourcing can free up your time, but having process documentation in place is a crucial first step. In this article, Jenna Blackwood of Boomer Consulting discusses the benefits of process documentation and walks you through how to do it.
Delegating, outsourcing and automating tasks can increase your capacity at work. Whether your plate is too full or you’re looking toward starting new projects, these strategies can help make room on your plate. But there’s one vital key you need to have in place before you can start: process documentation.
If your internal processes aren’t appropriately documented, you will have difficulty delegating, outsourcing and automating. Training someone else or mapping out the automation will take longer and be less effective.
4 Benefits of Process Documentation
Making the hand-off and automation of processes easier is just one benefit to process documentation; there are plenty more as well.
1. Takes work off your plate
If you’re stretched thin, you have one of three options — you can delegate, outsource or automate. Regardless of which option you choose, the first step is to document your current processes. Process documentation involves creating a detailed outline of process steps, from beginning to end, to show how a process is executed.
Mapping out these processes will show you where you can delegate or outsource and which tasks you can effectively automate. Without these written processes, you’ll struggle to identify and hand off these tasks; you’ll need to train the person you delegate or outsource to, creating more work for yourself. Starting with defined processes makes the identification and hand-off processes a breeze.
2. Reduces risk
If someone leaves the firm or is out on leave, another person can easily step in and take over the work when you have documented processes. They’ll be able to jump right in, knowing what needs to get done and how to do it. Without that documentation, the firm may struggle to reassign that person’s workload.
This not only causes barriers to efficiency, but it can also lead to work being forgotten or deadlines being missed. Process documentation helps to prevent that from happening.
3. Helps you move up in your career
If you want to learn new skills or deliver more value to your firm, you need to make time to do so. With a finite number of hours in the day, finding the time to propel your career forward can be hard. Delegating, outsourcing and automating increases your capacity. With the time you used to spend doing tasks that you’ve now handed off, you can dedicate hours to learning new skills or strategically thinking about how to deliver more value in your current role.
4. Defines your job description and responsibilities
The leaders in your firm might not be aware of everything you do. Documenting your processes provides more transparency into your daily tasks and the value you bring to the firm.
How to Get Started with Process Documentation
To get started with process documentation, you’ll first need to go through the strategic process of documenting what you do now. Break these tasks and projects down into steps and document each of them, as well as any tools and other people involved in those steps.
There are a variety of ways that you can document the processes. Writing out these processes step-by-step is one option, though it can be incredibly inefficient. It also requires you to remember each step, tool and person involved in the process on your own while recounting the process from memory.
A more effective way to document your existing process is to use a tool like Scribe. Scribe records your screen as you move through a task or process. Each time you click on your screen, it takes screenshots and automatically generates a step-by-step guide to go with the screenshots. This can drastically reduce the time it takes to record a process. And since you’re recording your screen while you perform the task, all steps are accounted for — you don’t have to worry that you missed a step because you were relying on memory rather than moving through the actual task or process.
Once you’ve documented it all, go through your list and see what would be easy to hand off to another person and what steps you’ll continue to own. As you hand off the steps that are no longer your responsibility, pass along the how-to guide you created during the documentation stage. This will reduce the time you need to dedicate to training the person taking over the task moving forward.
Finally, look for ways to improve your processes now that you have them documented. Are there redundant or unnecessary steps that you can remove from the process? What tasks can be automated by technology that your firm already has? If you aren’t sure what you can automate, reach out to your firm’s IT department to determine if any of your existing tools or technologies can help you optimize processes. Following these steps, you’ll have more capacity at work in no time!