In my last two office management jobs, I was tasked with writing the operations manual for the company. Within every office manual is a series of processes that describe various work flows used in the organization. These office processes are important for many reasons, but what’s equally significant is using a consistent method for documentation.
When writing your business processes, here are 10 elements you absolutely must include:
- Name of
process: Give the process a name (i.e. New Client Set Up Process). The name should make it clear,if looking at the manual’s table of contents, exactly what the process is for.
- Owner of
process: Who is responsible for carrying out the process? One thing is for sure. If everyone is responsible, no one will be responsible. Assign a single person to either carry out the process,or ensure the process is followed.
- Person Creating the Process: Who is writing up the process? Who do you go to with questions about the actual documentation? Often the person writing the process is different than the person who owns the process.
- Creation Date: What date was the process originally created? This tells you the age of the process – old or new.
- Revisions: Keep track of every revision that’s made to the process, who made the revision, and the date of the revision. This enables you to track the process improvements.
- Description: Provide a 1-3 sentence summary of the process.
- Purpose: Give a short purpose for the process. Why does this process exist? What is the result or outcome if this process is followed?
- People Involved: Sometimes a process is carried out by one person, but often the process involves multiple people. These individuals could be internal staff members, outside vendors, or anyone else that touches any of the steps of the process.
- Materials Needed: Many processes require specific materials. List out software, hardware, tools, and anything else needed to carry out the process.
Flowof Process: This is the meat of the process. It’s a detailed step by step procedure that is followed to receive the desired outcome. Often, there are sub-steps to the process as well. There can also be variations of the process, depending on specific circumstances. If A happens, then B follows. If C happens, then D follows. Most of your time and attention should be focused on this element.
- Flow Chart: Depending on the complexity of a process, it can be helpful to include a process flowchart. A flowchart is a great visual summary that is often easier to follow than a step by step description.
- Approval Signatures: Sometimes your business processes can include signatures of individuals who have reviewed and approved the process. Typically, these people are managers or executive leaders that can provide another set of eyes, or a big picture look at the process.
Documenting all of your business processes is critical. Create a template that contains all these elements, and then use the same template for each process. This ensures continuity and organization when you consolidate everything into a single manual.
10 Elements Every Business Process Should Have
September 28, 2017