How to write process documentation.

First, some facts:

  1. Almost all process documents are overly complicated.
  2. Almost no one reads the process flow after it is created unless they’ve screwed up and been told to.
  3. Almost no one references the process flow after it is created other than to cover their ass.

Most process documents are created to make us feel like we have a handle on today.  They include RACI charts, 100 box flow diagrams, and pages of description.  Next year no one will remember that your documentation exists unless something major goes wrong.

NOTE:  If your “Process Playbook” is more than a couple of pages long then you’ve created something pointless for the long-term.

What do you really need to do:

  1. Remember who your audience is.  You are creating a process intended to be used by someone on likely a daily basis.  They want simple and reference-able.
  2. No one wants to follow 150 steps in a process flow.  Simplify it and focus on the big actions.  Allow for some process flexibility.
  3. Realize that things change.  Do not make your process so rigid that basic changes to the business lead to a complete do-over of the documentation.
  4. Keep your marketing hat on.  Everyone who is given your process document is going to tune out at word one.  Give them a reason to remember or at least pay attention.  At least by not doing the same thing as everyone else.
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