A Quick, Ten Step Method For Documenting Business Processes

This method works best when all participants can see what’s being created by using a flip chart or white board. Make sure you have the right people in the room who know what’s involved in accomplishing the process.

I discuss this and more in the free Process Improvement Playbook: Overcoming the Hurdles of Manual Processes in the Workplace.

Step 1 – Process Name.

To get started, write the name of the process along with a description on the flip chart.

Step 2 – Process Boundaries.

Identify the start and end points of the process. What triggers the process to start? How do you know when it’s done?

Step 3 – Process Outputs.

Identify what’s produced by the process.

Step 4 – Process Inputs.

Identify what’s needed to perform the process and where it comes from (e.g. paper, web, fax, etc.)

Step 5 – Process Activities.

Brainstorm the activities (what) that need to be done to get the process from start to finish. State these in a verb / object format (e.g., approve request, sign paperwork, distribute form, etc). Don’t worry about sequencing the activities at this time, just brainstorm freely. Sticky notes can be very effective for this step. Just write one activity on each note.

Step 6 – Process Organization.

Take all the brainstorm items you identified and sequence them into the process flow. Make sure you identify key decision points as you build the visual of your process.

Step 7 – Process Review.

Take a look at the sequence as a first quality check. Does it look complete based on the boundaries you defined in Step 2?

Step 8 – Process Roles.

Identify the roles (who) that will be completing the activities for the process. Assign a role to each activity step.

Step 9 – Transcribe Process.

Place the steps into a flowcharting software program in a swim lane format.

Step 10 – Final Process Review.

Get the participants together and review the process flow. Secure approval by all team members.

Put It All Together

Here’s an example of a documented process to help you see how it all comes together.

Process Name: Pay Employees

Process Boundaries: Employees work for one week and get a paycheck or check stub if on automatic deposit.

Process Outputs: Employee checks or stubs, payroll report, updated PTO records

Process Inputs: Employee time cards

Process Activities: Completed and verified employee time cards, time cards delivered to HR, PTO records updated, data entered in payroll processor, checks or stubs delivered to employees, completed payroll report generated.

Process Roles: Employee, Supervisor, HR Manager, HR Assistant

And the transcribed process in a swim lane format would look like this:


Your Next Steps

Once you have the processes documented and approved, your next step will depend on what actions you plan to take in your company. Whether you are making changes or not, it’s a good idea to take a look at each process to determine where there are opportunities to make the process more efficient.
Get your free copy of the Process Improvement Playbook here. Improve your processes – and your business – today with this essential guide.
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