The term process documentation was coined in 1978 by the Philippines National Irrigation Agency alluding a project in which social scientists traveled through villages to document agricultural processes.
In organizations we can differentiate three types of processes:
- Strategic processes. In this section, we can group all those processes that give orientation to the business. For example, strategic planning.
- Key processes. These processes are those that give value to the customer. For example, deliver a package (in a parcel and courier company) or prepare the food and serve it (in a restaurant).
- Vertical or horizontal support processes. The processes that offer support to the central processes. For example, support or technical service, human resources department tasks.
A process can be divided into sub-processes, sub-processes into activities and activities into tasks. Tasks are the simplest actions. For example, sign a check or extend a voucher.
Here are some tips to make an adequate documentation of the processes of your company.
- To start, identify the process and the scope of it.
- Identify who is addressed, in this way you can establish the language and details that will be included in the documentation.
- Create a context about the process you´re documenting; this can be done through a descriptive title and an introduction that summarizes the process, why or when the users should carry it out and how it fits into the structure of the organization.
- Make a description of the people involved and define their roles. Always use the names of their positions.
- Identify the start and end points.
- Define the results of the process.
- List all the activities necessary to complete the process. A brainstorm is an extremely useful activity to recognize activities.
- Organize your list in sequences of steps. Pay attention to how you divide these steps. The actions that are carried out together logically must remain together. If a step includes more than one verb, it should probably be separated into two.
- A flowchart is a useful instrument to visually represent every step.
- Add graphics, images or screenshots.
- Validate the process with different users.
- Ask your colleagues or collaborators to review your document and provide feedback.
- Remember that your document is a living document that will need to be updated continuously.
We hope these tips help you achieve an efficient documentation of your business processes.
By: Andrés Mayo Góngora