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Why Documenting Workflow Processes Is Important

When was the last time you actually took a look at one of your workflow processes — not just that person A performs B function with C result, but a specific in-depth look at each baby step of the...

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When was the last time you actually took a look at one of your workflow processes — not just that person A performs B function with C result, but a specific in-depth look at each baby step of the process? I think you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

Good leaders don’t micromanage their people. As long as they produce on time, everything should be good. The problem with leaving workflow processes alone is the more tasks and little things that get added to the workload, the more the workflow process needs revamping. Why you might ask, should I bother as long as everything gets done on time? Two reasons: Outsourcing and efficiency.

If you are looking at taking advantage of an outsourcing program for some of your processes that aren’t your core competencies, it will be more of a headache than you expect to give a process to your outsourcing partner without first defining the process. Without setting parameters, you are essentially giving someone a license to waste time. Their time wasted is your money wasted.

On the other hand, setting time limits and having someone just “figure it out” is not only stressful on the relationship between you and the outsourcing vendor, but you run a huge risk of the work not being up to your standards. There is a simple way to fix this before outsourcing the task: simple, step-by-step documentation. If you take it down to the baby steps that anyone could follow, you’ll be much happier with the results.

Workflow efficiency. I mentioned earlier that the more details you add to someone’s workload, the exponentially less efficient they become without a review of the process. Most people will do as they’re told and just add the detail into their routine. Without careful crafting and optimization, it can slow down productivity as the processes are haphazardly being put together. Think of building a car. No manufacturer gives someone a pile of parts and says, “Have fun!” That would be a nightmare. Instead, cars are manufactured on carefully structured assembly lines in an order that has been revised repeatedly over the years to optimize the number of cars produced in a day. No business process is any different.

Taking a few minutes once a year to look at the workflow in all of your operations (outsourced or in-house) will pay off as you or your managers look at how everything is actually being done. Not theoretically, practically. You may be surprised at all the weird little things your staff has worked into their routine somewhere.

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Alexander Tereshchenko
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