How to create business process documentation faster
If you’re like me, you struggle with business documentation. We have a way to make it easier so you can get it done.
Most agency owners know what processes exist in their businesses. They know what needs to get done so that they can deliver to clients.
It can take a really long time to document those processes, especially if you’re overdoing it.
That’s the challenge that I want to confront today with this article. Our Operations Playbook System is the fastest way to handle that documentation. And you can use it even if you think you’re terrible at documentation.
When you think about your business processes, they’re probably a little messy. You have this idea in your head of how you can create a machine that will make everything run faster. But you feel like you’re moving through mud.
Ultimately, that leads to you becoming a bottleneck. Everything has to go through you because you haven’t documented your processes.
Think about it like this.
If you stepped away from your agency for 30 days, would it still be there when you came back?
If you’re the bottleneck, everything falls apart when you go away. That means you can never take time away from your agency.
Here’s a situation that I know a lot of agency owners deal with…
A task comes in that you know you ought to delegate. But you just decide to do it yourself because that’s easier than assigning it to somebody else.
That means the task takes up too much of your time. Plus, your people aren’t as effective in your business because you’re not giving them any responsibility.
The Operations Playbook System gives you the opportunity to get clear and organized with your business.
You can start to think about your business in compartments. And you can start to organize the key processes that you need to create for the key functions of your business to operate.
From there, you can start to involve other people.
That means you’re no longer the bottleneck.
Ultimately, this framework allows you to create an agency that has value beyond yourself. That means you can step away from it for a while and it will still run at a baseline level until you get back.
You also have the opportunity to delegate with ease. That means you’re not going to get freaked out by the thought of having somebody else handle a task.
Ultimately, this framework means that you’re not going to drown.
You’re not going to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that you’re taking on.
That means no more working 50+ hour weeks!
The Five Hot Principles
It’s time to make documenting your processes easier than ever before.
These are the five hot principles that form the backbone of this framework.
Principle #1 – Inventory Your Business as it Operates TODAY
I’ve emphasized the word today because it’s really the keyword here.
You’re not trying to imagine what your agency will look like in the future when you’re creating your operations playbook.
You already have a working system that’s generating revenue today. Even if it all exists in your head, it’s still there.
That’s what you’re going to document with this framework.
Creating this playbook is not a creative exercise. And if it becomes one, you’re going to find yourself lost in brainstorming, which means you end up wasting more time.
You’re not looking at how to create some cool new advertising platform. And you’re not checking out your competitors to see what they’re doing differently.
Instead, you’re looking at your business like it’s an ant colony. Your job is to zoom out and watch how all of the ants work together to create what you have right now. You’re going to examine all of the key steps for each process.
Then, you’re going to document them and work on optimizing.
Building the new processes comes later, at the time when you have everything in place and you’re ready to scale.
Principle #2 – Take Your Position
Documentation and processes die due to ambiguity. The more clarity you can bring to how and why your agency operates as it does, the more effective your playbook becomes.
That means you need to set basic rules for how your agency operates when creating your processes. You can’t try to be everything to everyone at all times. You’ll spread yourself too thin and the playbook becomes impossible to create.
Think about it like this…
If your business supports a dozen different platforms, that’s 12 sets of documentation you have to produce. It takes too long and there’s no clarity in the processes that you create.
You have to take your position. Narrow it down.
That means you’re going to plant your flag in the ground and say “this is what we do” and “this is why we do it”.
When you do that, you build constraints into your business. Your team needs those constraints so that they don’t lose focus.
You’re looking to make your processes as clear as possible so that they’re super easy to follow. That can’t happen if you don’t take your position.
Principle #3 – Document Your Critical 20%
Creating documentation has been one of the biggest banes of my entrepreneurial career.
Why? I used to try to create 100% of my documentation from the get-go. I’d sit down and spend hours on creating screenshots and building the perfect documents…
I’d never get anywhere.
I’d spend all of this time on documentation, only for something to change in the business. That meant I had to go back to the drawing board and waste even more time.
But today, I only focus on the critical 20%
You’re going to create a checklist of the critical processes that your business needs to operate at a baseline level. Once you have that checklist, you will focus on building out those processes.
Only once you have that 20% in place you can switch your focus to the other 80%.
It’s the 80/20 rule in practice.
20% of your processes get you 80% of your results. Figure out what those processes are and document them first.
Principle #4 – Start With the End in Mind
I talk about the idea of outcome-based thinking a lot in UACADEMY.
When you’re documenting your processes, I want you to ask yourself a simple question:
What does “done” look like?
In other words, what’s the outcome that this process will create?
Imagine you’re working out because you want to get fit. You’re not just going to randomly go to the gym every day. You know what you want to achieve before you go. Maybe you want to drop a little weight or you need to work on your cardio.
There’s a specific outcome in mind. And once you have that outcome, you’re able to tailor your workout around it.
Maybe you want to create something that a VA or contractor can follow, taking you out of a specific process.
That’s what you’re going to do with your processes. Document the outcome first. Then, work backward to figure out the steps you need to take to get to that outcome.
Principle #5 – Create Your Fast Indexes
Anybody who went to a library before computers became popular will remember the Dewey Decimal System. It was this physical index of cards that helped you to find specific books.
That’s what you want for the processes in your agency. You need to create a basic index that makes it easy for anybody to find the process document that they need.
This doesn’t have to be anything super fancy. As long as your system provides the key information about the process, it will do the job.
For example, your index could list the following about a process:
- The department that it applies to.
- The seat that the task sits within right now in your business. Who’s responsible for making sure the process gets carried out?
- A basic description of what the process is for.
The idea is to make every document in your agency available to you within two or three clicks. There are all sorts of tools that you can use to create this index.
Create Your Process Documents
Documenting your processes can feel like one of the most laborious aspects of your business.
However, doing it now means you create time in the future. You’re able to delegate more effectively and you no longer act as the bottleneck in your business.
As importantly, you stop drowning yourself in overtime workweeks just to get things done.
I go into a lot more detail about how to execute the Operations Playbook System in UACADEMY PRO.
If you’d like to find out more, we’d love to hear from you. Apply for your FREE strategy session today to discover if we’re a good fit for your agency.