In the business world, a process is defined as a collection of tasks performed by people or equipment in which a specific sequence produces a service or product for a customer. The output of the process is to accomplish an organizational goal.
While the reasons to have business processes in place find wide agreement in all organizations, documenting them is certainly an undervalued activity which often results in a total lack of documentation.
This article presents the three main reasons why your organization should invest in documenting processes and why we, as Winners, support our customers to do it.
Surely this is not the “Wow!” effect you were probably looking for, but still, compliance is one important reason for a company to document its processes.
If you want to dig into this topic there is plenty of information available on the web. I’ll use the definition provided in the Managing Regulatory Compliance in Business Processes publication: compliance is defined as ensuring that business processes, operations, and practice are in accordance with a prescribed and/or agreed set of norms. Compliance requirements may stem from legislature and regulatory bodies (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, HIPAA), standards and codes of practice (e.g., SCOR, ISO9000), and also business partner contracts. Additionally, you should not forget the legal requirement by GDPR to maintaining certain data-related documents, specifically for processing purposes, data sharing and retention. This type of documentation can help you comply with many aspects of the GDPR while improving your data governance. You can read more about GDPR requirements here.
Every industry has its own requirements for compliance and the main benefit is risk mitigation: prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business. If you are unsure about the need of documenting processes for compliance you may want to have a look at the following scandals in corporate history:
- The Enron scandal. The collapse of energy company in December 2001 which would become the most complex white-collar crime investigation in the FBI’s history
- The WorldCom scandal. From 1999 to 2002, senior executives at WorldCom (USA’s second-largest long-distance telephone company at the time) led by founder and CEO Bernard Ebbers orchestrated a scheme to inflate earnings in order to maintain WorldCom’s stock price. The fraud was uncovered in June 2002 during a company’s internal audit
Staff training and onboarding
Companies are made of people and their work is crucial for a business to achieve its business objectives. While small organizations may think a full documentation of their processes is not needed, the bigger the company the harder it becomes to align how the workforce perform its daily tasks.
Verbal communication is excellent for clarifying specific doubts about processes but the lack of a complete documentation of business processes involves a high risk of error in performing the tasks while preventing the business to improve task performance and optimize operations. In addition to this, lack of documentation means more time needed from team members to train new resources during the onboarding stage. The result? Team members can’t properly focus on other tasks while training new members and the onboarding process may be less effective (impacts of this have been the focus of multiple studies showing that more than half of workers are more likely to still be at a company three years after being hired if they go through a structured new employee onboarding program).
Last but not least, quick wins represent another main reason for a business to document its processes. The principle is quite simple: when you visualize a process you can spot all the possible improvements to it. Quick wins are small process changes that lead to making it more efficient. The benefits of quick wins are not just related to the process itself: staff members who benefit from quick wins will be more likely to understand the importance of documenting processes thus leading to the creation of a continual process improvement inside the company. You can read more about this topic here.
Conclusion and next steps
Documenting processes is not seen as a top priority in many organizations but I hope the aspects discussed in this article help you understand its importance and the potential benefits for your company. Whether you want to be compliant with a set of norms, improve staff training and the onboarding of new hires process or evaluate quick wins to improve efficiency, documentation helps you to do so.
If you want to better understand how we document processes for sports organizations, rights owners and sports governing bodies feel free to get in touch.