You might’ve read countless articles on the benefits of documenting your organizational processes. This process creates clarity, preserves company knowledge, and facilitates the onboarding of new team members. While all this is true, it’s easy to forget that regular maintenance of processes is a crucial component in reaping these benefits.
A common mistake we see many organizations fall into is putting the effort into documenting all their processes and neglecting to adopt a continuous improvement procedure. A continuous improvement process is the constant task of improving a process, product, or service in small but incremental enhancements over time.
The lack of a continuous improvement process to your knowledge base can dilute the impact of your efforts towards improving your overall organizational efficiency. If you do not have a process improvement plan in place, chances are you’re running into frustrating problems every day that cost you time and money.
Below are six common warning signs that suggest your processes need immediate improvement:
- Lack of visualization in process documentation.
- Lack of specificity in existing processes.
- Lack of feedback channels for continuous improvement process.
- Lack of organization charts.
- Lack of knowledge base centralization.
- Processes slipping through the cracks.
Lack of visualization in processes documentation
Not all processes are created equal. Some are simple and short; others are more detailed in complexity. The latter can become a problem to follow and understand without a visual aid. Employees struggle with seeing the bigger picture of how multiple processes work together. Even worse, without a clear visual map, problem areas in a process may remain undetected for a long time, causing inefficiencies in the workflow and numerous errors.
Attaching flowcharts to documented processes is a best practice that allows for a clear bigger picture and ease in streamlining workflows. Skipping on the initiation of these visual maps will impede the continuous improvement process and complicate problems rather than solve them.
Lack of specificity in existing processes
A common mistake often made while documenting processes is trying to fit as many steps and outcomes into one process. This could be a policy or a tutorial that crams in as much information as possible for brevity’s sake. The problem with such processes is their lack of focus on a specific objective, which usually results in a lack of detail or clarity for whoever utilizes these processes.
For instance, if a Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) describes how to onboard clients based on their personas, you might want to break it down further into smaller SOPs based on the processes for each persona. This could be simpler processes such as how to set up a project or how to create a task. The simpler the process, the better clarity it provides.
Lack of feedback channels for continuous improvement process
Without a feedback loop or channel, continuous improvement cannot be achieved. How would you know if a process is working efficiently, or if no one on your team is struggling through it? What often happens is that as organizations grow and scale up their operations, their processes eventually become outdated. With no regular maintenance, the company is faced with the crippling task of auditing and updating hundreds of processes in a short amount of time.
Setting up a plan for process improvement should be intentional and factored into your documentation process. Be specific with your channels, set up surveys to collect feedback, and track the time spent on each channel/process to measure their efficiency. Most importantly, share with your team the concept of continuous improvement and empower them to become actively involved in updating your processes.
Lack of organizational charts
Just as flowcharts help in guiding people through a process, organizational charts offer a clear division of responsibility for different processes. The absence of organization charts can prove to be a challenge in documenting processes in the first place. Who’s responsible for giving approvals? Who should be assigned to follow up on a certain task?
Moreover, implementing continuous improvement requires giving employees ownership over certain processes. When accountability is assigned, it allows for regular monitoring and upkeep of processes over time
Lack of knowledge base centralization
Another common pain-point many organizations struggle with is the absence of centralization for their processes. Each department or team may choose to document its processes a certain way and store them on different platforms. This lack of cohesion can and will become an issue when departments collaborate on projects and realize that accessing company knowledge is in itself a hurdle. Teams are forced to jump from one platform to the other to use a simple process, costing them precious time and effort.
A simple solution is assigning one platform (Asana for example) for everyone in the organization to use for their knowledge base, and a uniform approach to documenting their processes.
Processes slipping through the cracks
A company’s processes should be all-encompassing, paying attention to minute details that usually go unnoticed. This requires proper planning to ensure every aspect of the business process is broken down and documented. Many organizations realize, unfortunately too late, that their processes miss plenty of aspects in their day-to-day life. What makes it even worse is that this realization frequently happens when these processes are needed the most. Many overlooked particulars include guidelines on how certain software or tools are used, the type of approvals needed, and the estimated time for a certain procedure to take place.
If you notice that a specific workflow or process is not present in your knowledge base, you might need to reexamine and improve on your documentation process.
These are but a few of the most common pain points we see clients struggle with regularly with their processes. How many do you recognize in your own company?
While it might seem overwhelming, it’s never too late to adopt continuous improvement to your process for better clarity.