Processes Documented? Check.

Flowchart Meanings

“If I leave this place you guys would really in the !@#”.

That is a comment I’ve heard a few times over the years.

Last time I heard that comment was in relation to someone who had been involved in a product area in a company for some time.  The person knew how to do the job well and efficiently, however a new person was taking over this area of the business.

Often, not all processes are documented and this is evident if the new person has to take a lot of notes during training, despite having the manual.

I have a theory about the lack of documented processes in businesses and it is related to often not having documentation post system installs.  Documentation is boring and most people don’t like boring.  Who can blame them?

Just mention business process or quality and you can literally see the eyes of people glaze over.

Documenting how things are done and making sure things are done the way they are said to be done isn’t the most glamorous business exercise.

However, the good reasons for having robust documented procedures should not be forgotten.  Critical processes are required to be written in order to improve product delivery, quality, and continuously improve how things are done.  It is also good risk management in that a business isn’t reliant solely on one person’s knowledge or “what’s in their head” for a critical task.

Typically when I ask a prospect if they have their key business processes documented I get responses from “no but we will”, “yes, but they are out of date” or “yes, we are working on them now”.

Not many small to medium (SME) outfits can justify the time and cost required to get their business processes up to speed, particularly when times are tough and survival is paramount.  However, what is the cost of not having clear documented processes in place?

Documentation does not have to be overly detailed.  Often simple checklists can make all the difference between good and bad product and service delivery.

On the subject of checklists, often they are “skipped” over or ignored because the person doing the work has “done this a million times” and knows what they are doing.  Pilots always use their pre-flight check lists.  There is something to be learned from that.

 

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