Organize your Workflow: Process Document Tips

At Causeit, we understand how difficult it can be to create sustainability amid the inevitable chaos of running a business. For example, what happens when someone in your company gets sick or needs to leave work for a period of time? Can you still do payroll? Do you have the resources to train a new front-line worker unexpectedly? How can you better manage those one-time processes that never seem to get remembered? Don’t panic! The solution to all your project management breakdowns and confusions is what we like to call a process document! A process doc (we’ve shortened it for efficiency’s sake) is a written resource that explains all the steps in a given project so that you don’t have to.

Writing a process doc does not have to be painful.  In fact, they can prevent unnecessary grief in the future. With a strong template and a commitment to keeping it updated, a process doc can act as a living, breathing contribution to your organization.

Here are some tips for creating a strong process document:

  • Document a working process—don’t try to reinvent the wheel. You should not make up a process as you write it. A process doc should be created from an existing way of doing things. Build on what you know so that others can benefit from your experience.   
  • Strike a balance between too much detail and overly general steps. You should assume the person reading this is smarter than the average monkey, but watch out for shortcuts you might take for granted in your own process.
  • Don’t miss a step! Like we said before, it’s easy to skip steps or make logical leaps when you’ve been the person completing the process for the last year. Be nice to the next person, include all the steps.
  • Include a trigger. Process docs don’t work when they aren’t used. Think of what event should send us to the document for an answer and make that the first step of the doc (i.e. receive phone order).
  • End of your process doc with a clear deliverable. This document is supposed to achieve a clear goal. Be clear about what you want the result of this the process to be.
  • Add a timeline. If appropriate (and it usually is), attach dates or times to each step to show when things should be done (i.e. within a day, hour; by the third of every month, etc.)

A process doc can be made for any project or task in order to increase efficiency and flow. Step-by-step instructions are easy to follow even for someone who has never done the job before. A process doc can be a lot of help, but it is only useful if its content is relevant. Remember to keep your process docs up to date. So write it up, review it often, and make your life a little bit easier!