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Documenting business processes


#1

How do you document your business’ processes…

  • Tool of choice?
  • What’s your template?
  • What do you document?

#2

Tool of choice: Atlassian’s Confluence

Template: none

What I document: anything I need to share with others, done on demand. Tasks I do every three few months or so, where I’m likely to forget the details each time. Critical task with lots of QA steps, such as the fortnightly roll-out of a new update of my software, that requires some tests to make sure all went well, and some promotional steps.


#3

I use a simple google doc and I document the processes that need to be done over and over (and potentially delegated to other people).

If you want to create more structured procedures (with checklists) Process street and SweetProcess

Here’s an example of a SOD (Strategic Document Operation) from the guys from TropicalMBA that you can use as a template.

Hope this helps.


#4

Tool of choice?

GitHub wiki.

What’s your template?

None.

What do you document?

Anything that cannot be automated easily and that is multiple steps.


#5

Hi Mark,

Documenting is essential for efficiency. Glad you are taking those steps. Maybe more than you need on the subject but I wrote about this last year @ http://www.softwarebyrob.com/2014/07/22/buy-yourself-time-by-systematizing-your-saas-with-trello/ and https://blog.bidsketch.com/everything-else/systematizing/?hvid=3FG8Cf and http://www.kylembrown.com/process/stop-repeating-the-same-task-by-automating-with-documented-processes

Tool of choice?
Google Docs, Trello works well also and it’s built in notifications are helpful for updating your readers of new or changed content.

What’s your template?
Really could depend on your style and needs.

What do you document?
Honestly, every task that you perform to run your company. In the event you need to remove yourself from the company to pursue other projects or sell. Specifically, those task that are repeatable, easy to train, and do not require critical thinking.


#6

Love the very cheeky social proof on SweetProces home page - McDonald / Starbucks and other big co. logos with “Business worth millions are built with systems” next to it - not implying they use sweet process of course…


#7

Thank you everyone for the discussion. It seems we have quite a mix of tools and approaches.

I’m just starting to document processes. I find myself debating on whether or not to document something. I’m currently doing it for myself. I find myself debating what to document… is this a waste of time? Will I really forget it? But of course I will forget it. And there is that additional benefit (some will argue, the whole point) of being able to delegate the processes to others.

I think I’m going to work with Google docs for now. But I have not settled on a template yet.


#8

I created a software program to do just that. Check out enprojo.com. We make it simple to capture everything you need for your business. You can include team members and cofounders or do it solo.


#9

This just came up in the mastermind I’m a member of. Just start a high level - documenting the major steps, although perhaps not the nitty gritty for each step. Then if you decide to hand off to someone else you can work with them to clarify the details and vet the process.


#10

I just use whatever issue-tracking software is running in the office at the time. We’ve used FogBugz, BugTracker.NET, BaseCamp (which is PM software but whatever). I’m not sure the tool matters to long as it is web-accessible & easily updateable.

[quote=“Rhino, post:6, topic:3281, full:true”]
Love the very cheeky social proof on SweetProces home page - McDonald / Starbucks and other big co. logos with “Business worth millions are built with systems” next to it - not implying they use sweet process of course…
[/quote]Isn’t that great? :smile:


#11

Hey guys I just ran across process street today and started to use it.

I’m planning to try to scale a fairly large team for goodlinks.io so I’m definitely going to need to get SOPs and onboarding dialed in pretty well.

It seems like a lot of people use spreadsheets and google docs for their sops. Even some of the more process oriented people that I know.

Seems odd because this software seems pretty awesome.

Just the basic ability to update a checklist template and immediately apply that update to all active checklists. That would be a huge pain to do with google docs.

Not to mention the ability to actually manage tasks within the software, comment/mention people.

I’m imagining that this may be the core app where most people are working out of most of the day.

Then again I’m only a day into it so far so what do I know :slightly_smiling:

Would love to hear feedback.

(Sent from phone)


#12

I use Process Street and the law firm I work for uses SweetProcess. They’re both great tools and by far better than Google docs. Once you really start getting into it, the docs route becomes messy and it’s not very easy to delegate.


#13

Nice man that’s awesome. Yeah that’s exactly what it seems like to me re: docs.

Surprising that a lot of people I know/follow who are heavily into systematizing things don’t use some kind of software for their processes.


#14

I get the feeling that services dedicated to process and systems documentation weren’t even around/popular that long ago.

So much easier to start early on a system like this than start late and miss the small stuff that’s going to matter when you want to hand it off.


#15

I think its a good lesson for Bootstrappers evaluating ideas.

Your competition isn’t just direct competition - its also the next best manual alternative (often Excel!).

I actually mulled over doing something like that before Process Street came along. Not saying they are fighting a loosing battle but in this sort of situation need to be aware that many will consider word/google docs ‘good enough’ unless you can clearly show how its better and you’ve also got the inertia of customers already having a lot of stuff already in word/g’docs.

Stalked around SweetProcess a while and they had an onboarding service where they would convert some documents over for you. Also - listened to a couple of their podcasts and tellingly both of the interviewees used google docs!


#16

I get the feeling that services dedicated to process and systems documentation weren’t even around/popular that long ago

@aaronsransom, Yeah same here - not sure how long these things have been around - I did a bit of hunting around their blogs to try to find that out but it wasn’t entirely clear.

Still though, this seems like such a perfect fit that it seems like the kind of thing that particularly someone with experience doing things manually would immediately recognize as a perfect solution to their problems.

Kinda like how when people see Slack they immediately recognize that it’s by far the best team chat solution out there and they hop on it right away regardless of how much inertia they have around their existing solutions.

Your competition isn’t just direct competition - its also the next best manual alternative (often Excel!).

@Rhino, Totally! Someone should built a site called yourcompetitionisexcel.com and talk about exactly that haha.

but in this sort of situation need to be aware that many will consider word/google docs ‘good enough’

That’s true. I think I definitely would have fallen into that boat a year or so ago. I’m much more comfortable now paying for good solutions to problems than I was before.

Maybe if they had a free tier it would completely change the dynamics of user adoption. Kinda like slack. Not that I’m a fan of freemium in general, but it feels like the adoption rate for this type of thing should be significantly higher than it seems to be.

Also - listened to a couple of their podcasts and tellingly both of the interviewees used google docs

Okay that’s hilarious!

I will say that some things I am still needing to put into spreadsheets.

But it’s an interesting challenge to try to reframe every task or thing that you do as a part of a checklist. It’s been a cool challenge to try to do that.

The other thing is that a big part of the value of these apps that I see is the ability to be flexible when your process is still early on and not super clearly defined.

So you could always pay for this for a few months while you’re really hammering out your process, and then move to docs once your process is no longer changing (then again that may never happen).

Also this could explain why more established process-driven people are comfortable with their docs - if their process is to the point where it hardly changes at all.


#17

Thanks for this thread I’ve discovered Trello - great tool for creating checklists for manual processes. I’ve been using text files before and that was not really convenient :slight_smile:


#18

The biggest competition for both http://www.perfecttableplan.com/ and http://www.hyperplan.com is Excel and post-it notes.


#19

I wonder how long it will be before they get an email from BigCo lawyers?


#20

Since starting this thread, I’ve been using Trello for so much. I really like its flexibility. I also like how business processes can be organized and then simply copied (I utilize checklists for much of the business processes) into my todo board. Using one app to do it all makes it feel more efficient. I’ve also really become a big fan of the visualization Trello offers.