What Is Process Documentation? (Benefits, Tips And FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Process documentation helps an organisation capture all the information required for the effective execution of a business process. Such documentation helps reduce disagreements, provides resources and answers crucial questions regarding the tasks. Learning how to develop these documents might assist you in managing project management tasks and procedures correctly. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is process documentation?', outline its benefits, look at the key roles involved, show steps to document processes, give tips for creating effective documentation, share a few examples of and a template for process documentation and answer some frequently asked questions.

What Is Process Documentation?

To answer 'What is process documentation?' it is a document which describes the steps required to accomplish a task or procedure. Repeatable processes are important for the successful running of businesses. Process documentation is an integral resource for employees and management. It identifies the existing state of a process to determine its potential for improvement. Any task performed more than once or by several individuals is suitable for documentation. This offers an organisation consistency and enables it to monitor and modify processes. Process documentation may contain the following additional resources:

  • Case studies

  • Screenshots

  • Tutorials

  • Forms

  • Policies

  • Checklists

  • Process maps

Benefits Of Process Documentation

Process documentation is an important element for guiding teams, providing a shared understanding of the project's methods and clarity on who is responsible for each task. Here are some major benefits of process documentation:

Eliminates errors

Documentation of business processes helps avoid errors by describing each step. You can evaluate the efficacy of these processes and adjust as you progress. By documenting your process proactively, you improve:

  • Communication: With proper documentation, communication is precise and efficient.

  • Process steps: With the detailed steps, the tasks and responsibilities of each step become clear.

  • Clarity on objectives and outputs: The documentation helps team members understand the deliverables and purpose of a particular process.

Related: Attention To Detail: Definition, Examples And Tips

Reduces unnecessary work

As process documentation presents detailed information about a process, often with visuals, it helps eliminate unnecessary and non-productive work. For instance, a process document can help eliminate the following:

  • Frequent meetings: A process document often details most of the required information that may otherwise require a meeting.

  • Duplicate work: As it organises the tasks correctly, it heavily reduces the chances of duplicate work.

  • Disorganised communication: As all critical information is available at a single location, it helps remove disorganised communication.

Improves resource allocation

A process document simplifies resource allocation by arranging information into distinct steps and linking them to the required resources. This helps ensure the resources are:

  • Used properly: When teams know which resources are relevant, they can use them properly and efficiently.

  • Connected to the right steps: Connecting resources and tasks clarifies how and when to use a given resource.

  • Produce the intended outcome: When you allocate the resources properly, teams are more likely to use them for their intended purpose.

Related: What Is Resource Planning? (With Benefits And Techniques)

Enhances communication

You can avoid future process difficulties by storing communication in a shared space. This provides all stakeholders access to a shared, viewable source. Improved communication can help:

  • Complete work correctly: Clear communication reduces the risk of confusion and low-quality work, which may require revision.

  • Develop process understanding: Communication helps teams stay current with new methods for processes.

  • Enhance process maps: Proper communication helps clarify key information and ensures process maps and procedures align with the objectives of the process.

Related: Written Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

Key Roles Involved In Process Documentation

Some organisations may have a single employee that performs multiple functions, but in general, the primary roles involved in process documentation are as follows:

  • Process owner: The process owner establishes the project's overarching objective and measurement standards. They also evaluate the process and develop enhancements based on the performance.

  • Documentation specialist: The documentation specialist ensures all records are current, uploaded to a file system and easily accessible for review.

  • Technical writer: The technical writer is responsible for writing and editing the process documents. Their job includes using simple language and adding visuals that are easy to comprehend, such as charts and diagrams.

Related: Team Management Skills (Definition And Ways To Improve Them)

How To Create A Process Document?

You can follow these steps to document a business process:

1. Identify the process

Start the process documentation by identifying the process that you want to document. Include the process's name, its benefits to the organisation and a brief description. At this step, also consider the intended audience for the documentation and the level of knowledge around the process so that the documentation is easy to understand.

Related: What Is A Project Scope? (With Template)

2. Define the scope

Provide the process's scope or the actions that comprise the process. The scope contains the summary of a procedure's actions. Having a scope ensures that all team members know what to accomplish.

3. Set process limits and measurements

Determine the duration of the tasks to establish process boundaries. To determine the project's start date, analyse the possible initiating factors. You can determine the end time by defining goals.

4. Determine process outputs and inputs

Outputs or the final product of a procedure assist you in deciding what tasks to accomplish. Consider the process inputs or the required resources to complete each stage. For example, hosting a business conference may require you to book a venue.

5. Organise the steps

Decide the necessary steps for your approach during a brainstorming session. Then, arrange them progressively so the team can easily understand what to complete first. It may be useful to write these steps as notes and then rearrange them in the proper order.

Related: What Are Organisation Skills? (Plus How To Improve Them)

6. Describe team members involved

Assign responsibilities for your tasks. Instead of providing names, include the individual's work title and their role in the project. At each step, specify who is responsible for completing it.

7. Visualise the process

Consider using a process diagram or flowchart to illustrate the procedure. This can help enhance the readability of your process documentation. You can use various design or presentation tools to display the stages in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

8. Consider exceptions

Consider exceptions that may cause the team to deviate from the steps you describe when you plan your process. In this section, you may also describe any potential challenges the team may experience during the project. Describe the suggested actions team members may take in response to these changes.

9. Review and test

After finishing the process documentation, ask your team for a review of the procedure. This can help determine if any steps are missing. You can also consider testing the effectiveness of the procedure before finalising it.

Related: Document Specialist Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Important Tips For Creating Effective Process Documentation

Consider the following tips when creating process documentation:

  • Make it easy to edit. Since process documentation is ongoing, consider adopting a system that enables your team to update the process and distribute changes to the entire team.

  • Ensure documentation is easy to access. One of the primary purposes of documentation is the dissemination and management of knowledge. Publish the process documentation on a platform that the team can easily access.

  • Be concise. Provide only the information required to understand the procedure to make the material easy to follow.

  • Create access for everyone. Store your process documentation where it is accessible to all employees and easily searchable.

  • Add visual elements. Providing a graphic or flowchart can assist readers in easily comprehending the content in process documentation.

Related: Types Of Graphs And Charts

Examples Of Process Documentation

Few of the common processes that typically require documentation include:

  • Standard operating procedures (SOP)

  • Onboarding checklist

  • Performance reviews

  • Customer complaint resolution processes

  • Service delivery processes

  • Project management

Process Documentation Template

When creating process documentation, it is important to keep the style and format consistent. Here is a general process documentation template to help guide you:

General process documentation template

Process name [Name of process]

Purpose

[A brief description of the purpose of the process documentation.]

Scope

[Explain what activities the process includes and does not include.]

Process boundaries and measurements

[Outline your timeline for your project and what measurements to use to determine completion.]

Process inputs

[Describe the resources needed to perform your project.]

Process outputs

[Share the result or product produced from the project.]

Procedures

  1. [Step 1], [Individual involved]

  2. [Step 2], [Individual involved]

  3. [Step 3], [Individual involved]

  4. [Step 4], [Individual involved]

Potential risks or exceptions

[Outline any potential risks or exceptions the company may have during the project.]

Related resources

[Include links to relevant materials that help support the process.]

Frequently Asked Questions About Process Documentation

Here are some frequently asked questions about documenting processes:

Are there ways to improve the process?

As you monitor processes, look for particular areas where quality control may be necessary to improve efficiency, such as when one person or team transfers the process to another. Attempt to reduce unnecessary movements between departments during a process. Determine whether the existence of duplicate tasks is beneficial or inefficient.

Related: Process Improvement Interview Questions: Answers And Tips

Are there useful tools for effective process documentation?

There are various tools to capture processes, such as interviews, meetings, videos, photographs and field diaries. You can organise the information as articles, case studies or video bites. Charts and graph-making tools can add relevant visualisation to process documentation.

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