Process Documentation

This series of web pages will focus on the details of how a product is made or how a service is delivered. It answers, in a detailed way, how inputs get turned into outputs. For most, this detailed analysis may be viewed as inconsequential or trivial matter. A careful examination of your processes, however, can uncover areas for substantial improvements in the performance of your organization.

Just like custom parts ordered to your specification, processes should be well documented. Processes that reside in the mind of one or two people represent a substantial risk to your organization. What would happen if these people were injured or left for a better job? How long would it take you to recover and provide the level of performance you currently expect?

A well documented process is a valuable tool to train new employees and cross-train current employees. Lack of clear and accurate process documentation leads to training that suffers from generation loss as employees pass information to other employees from memory. While this oral tradition is a great way of preserving and shaping an organization’s culture, it is a poor way of insuring the delivery of a consistent product or service. Each telling of the "story" is different from the last, details change, or are left out. In the end the process is subject to changes that can have a significant impact on how the process is performed. This may be good or it may be bad but it is certainly uncontrolled. These changes are generally hidden from view and are not evaluated in light of the overall objectives of the organization. The first management hears about them is when there is a major problem with a product or service.