Business processes and other documents are often overlooked for the value they create and deliver for organisations. So, how are these documents become quiet winners and what are the benefits in spending time and money in creating them?
Before we get into the benefits of business processes and other important documents, let’s clarify what we’re talking about. They can be summarised into four types, documents that:
- Record who does what and when – a process document
- Provide support for staff – user guides, manuals, handbooks, checklists and maps
- Provide rules for who can do what when – a policy document
- Answer queries – frequently asked questions
So, now that we have defined these common categories, let’s talk about why your business should invest time in creating them. These are the top benefits of developing these documents for your business, your staff and most importantly your customers:
Providing clarity, continuity, training and accountability for staff – Businesses grow and change all the time. Good process and business documents provide consistent and clear direction for employees. These documents will explain all that your staff will need to know: what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Information in this format can be used to train new staff, quickly and cost effectively, and for existing staff it will aid in succession planning and reduce the risk from a human resources perspective when staff changes occur. In other words, these documents can minimise the recovery period following staff departures. It can be costly if these important documents and processes need to be rediscovered and recorded. In summary, they capture the important information – how your business operates!
Enhancing client service – The logic is not difficult to follow: better understanding of your clients means better service. If staff members know what they have to do and when, then the outcome is simple. Your employees work more smoothly and your organisation operates more efficiently. Of course, this is a win for your clients and in turn, your organisation. This information will also be used by your business to measure and promote service standards and build on your competitive advantage. If things do go wrong, it will also be easier to track down the source of the problem, resolve it quickly and stop it from happening in the future. That’s continuous improvement on the move!
Increasing efficiencies across your business – When the steps in the process, policy or user guide are clearly defined, work in your business will flow more efficiently. By documenting how your business operates, this will save you money and will assist in avoiding costly mistakes and rework.
Improvement opportunities are easier to identify - Flowing from the point above, business documents will help identify opportunities for streamlining your business and reducing costs. Opportunities for changing and improving your business will become more apparent. This visibility will enable organisations to build on their competitive advantage, keep their existing customers happy, and win new customers through innovation and reputation. In addition, small incremental innovation over time can add up to significant savings to any organisation.
Ability to quickly respond to change and other issues – When things in the business world change, managers need to be able to understand how we are going to respond. If these documents exist, there will be a reduction on two levels: firstly in the time it takes to respond to change and secondly, confusion to staff and customers in understanding how your business operates. If problems or issues arise, these documents will provide the opportunity for quick assessment of the cause, and the effect, of the issue.
Does this really impact my business, I hear you ask? Think about the number of different transactions that your organisation undertakes yearly, monthly or even daily and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the information written down and easily accessible for all staff?
- Is the information clear and consistent?
- Is your organisation ready to deal with and manage changes?
- Are you and your staff able to identify issues or problems and resolve them?
- Can you look for opportunities for and readily identify areas of improvement?
- Is there one source of the “right way” to operate for new staff?
If you answered No to any of these questions, then the key to resolving the issues that stem from these questions may lie in creating one or more of these documents. Any organisation that conducts itself using these key documents will be efficient, controlled, flexible, ready for change and is able to continually excel in customer service whilst, minimising costs and overheads.
The benefits of these key documents are considerable, but most notably they provide a blueprint for your business and an excellent opportunity to build on your competitive advantage.
Invest in business process and other documents today, to reap the benefits tomorrow – it will be well worth it.