Marie Stuart Noel

How To Document Your Business Processes

Emplyees look at processes
Group look at processes

How To Document Your Business Processes

What are business processes?

A business process is a sequence of actions taken every day in your business. Depending on which type of business you own, you may have many processes, such as ordering or marketing procedures.  These processes are often called SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). SOPs help your company function smoothly and efficiently. Plus, documenting your processes helps you keep track of your business activities and spot errors.

How to get started?

You should document each process with a formal record or a written document. For example, you can write down each step in the ordering process so that employees know what to do. This way, you can avoid miscommunications and errors in processing orders. You can also keep track of the time spent on each task to find out when tasks become tedious and should be streamlined or eliminated. After documenting your processes, you can share them with employees so that they know what to do and when to do it. In this way, everyone involved with your business will be able to work more efficiently and effectively.

Why is it important?

A little over a year ago, I was hospitalized for 3 weeks. My business suffered tremendously in my absence. I had my SOPs in my business folders but they weren’t accessible. Additionally, I had 2 issues: I had no employees to take over for me. I was running the show solo. Second, I don’t have many family and the few I had refused to help.

I begun issuing lots of refunds to customers. My family flat out told me that was the cost of business. In 3 weeks, I lost over $7,000. My mom told me, “That’s too bad, maybe next time you’ll secure your business better.” Mind you, my family contributed to my hospitalization. Then, it occurred to me to contact someone who had worked for me on and off over the years. I gave him access to my processes and my business was redeemed. I can look back now and see the gaps, but at the time it was happening, I felt hopeless.

Do it for your clients

Documenting your business processes helps your clients understand you. Essentially, documenting your processes allows potential customers to understand who you are as an organization. You must show potential customers what you do to gain their trust and patronage. Moreover, documenting your processes lets current clients know how their requests are handled by your company. In this way, they can get the answers they need and what to expect from your company.

When I had to issue refunds to clients, they didn’t know exactly what was happening behind the scenes. My SOPs saved my company from getting bad reviews. Clients appreciate knowing how their requests are handled by businesses- it builds relationships and promotes trust in the company involved. I went through every order, contacted the clients myself, explained that the order couldn’t be fulfilled because the company was short staffed. I lost the orders but most of the clients returned for business months later, after I recovered.

Take away

  1. Start documenting your processes right now, if you haven’t already started. Start with basic day to day activities that you do.
  2. For Solo Entrepreneurs; give another person access to your SOPs so if anything happens, your business is taken care of.
  3. If you have employees, you must promote leadership among workers to get desired results from procedures daily. Documenting business processes increases workplace productivity through transparency, productivity and managerial control.
  4. Your clients will recognize and trust your products when they know what you do and how you do it. Therefore, documenting your business processes is essential if you want to build a successful business operation.

Conclusion

I hope you find value in this article and my experience. Have processes in place, use them and refine them as needed. If you don’t know where to start, check out Clickminded. They have a comprehensive SOP library you can purchase, and customize to create your company processes.

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