Business process documentation is an essential task that entails the continuous recording of the critical steps followed to complete a task. Effective business documentation requires managers to first conduct a process analysis which is a review conducted in order to comprehend a process. Successful process analysis is followed by the creation of a process map which is the visual representation of the documentation. Although process maps provide essential information about the relationship between various steps, outputs, and inputs, it is not exhaustive. The failure to capture all aspects of processes raises the need to develop comprehensive process documentation.
Comprehensive process documentation is essential for all businesses as it captures everything managers require to ensure consistent product and service delivery. Process documentation enables businesses to have a reference in case they need to conduct a similar task thus saving precious time. Also, process documentation is essential for managers as it enables them to identify the steps that need to be improved. “Continuous process improvement is essential for all businesses as it improves efficiency and quality, helps decrease costs and resources while reducing the time used to execute a task, says Henry Lewis, a business process manager at SolidEssay and Case Study Service.
In addition, businesses that document their processes can conserve knowledge even when employees leave the workplace. Businesses that do not document their processes have to rely on memory in case essential employees leave the company. As knowledge is safely stored in the company, it can also be used to train new employees. Training new employees using documented business processes ensures consistency in production while maintaining existing standards.
Business Process Documentation Checklist
Despite their effectiveness and possible usefulness, business process documents are oftentimes poorly planned, poorly implemented and poorly communicated. This creates confusion and an infective business environment. There needs to be a process structure, formal process flows, boundaries and control points for an effective business process. The business process documentation provides a sequence of activities that are critical to performing business services and establish best practices, and a successful business process document should include the following:
- Process purpose, which is the part of the document that describes the purpose of the process. This essentially outlines the benefits that the process will have for the organization.
- Process scope, which offers a detailed description of what is included in the business process, including what is out of scope.
- Process input which is the need to be filled that necessitated the business process. The process input section needs to identify the need or the input that gives rise to the business process.
- Process boundaries, which identify the confines of the process, where it starts and where it ends. These boundaries must be clearly identified, documented and communicated to the organization.
- Process flow, which is usually presented in the business process document in graphical format, verbal format, or both formats used based on the standards of the organization. Without a detailed description of the process flow, it will be open to interpretation and lack clarity and formality. Each step of the process from start to end should be described in the process flow section.
- Process output details the results that the business process sets out to achieve. All business processes have the intended results, their output, which should be detailed in the process output section. The output may not technically be a part of the process itself, but rather the outcome of the process. It is nonetheless an integral part of the business process document because it details the expectations of the business process, and explains the output of the process.
- Exceptions to process flow are integral to the business process document as it explains exceptions to the flow of the process. Sometimes the business process will not follow the normal flow of work from start to finish. This is usually because of the many variables that are involved in the process and uncertainties that are unforeseen which alter the business process flow. The section on exceptions should explain these exceptions to the business process flow, and the steps that will need to be taken when this happens.
- Control points and measurements include the points of the business process where risks have been identified. “Business processes have their own risks and uncertainties, and they should be continuously monitored and improved,” points out Jason Kent, business operations director at MLA Outline Service and Paper-Research. Control points for risks should be identified and helps in monitoring the risks associated with the process. This section also helps assess the effectiveness of the process and allows for process improvements.
Business processes are effective at improving the performance of a business, increasing the efficiencies of resources and the workforce. They are able to perform value-added functions that are able to meet critical business needs. The business process should be easy to integrate with other processes and the structure of the organization.