I refer to it as the bus theory.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say “just in case I’m hit by a bus” or something similar. (Let’s pause here for a moment of silence in honor of George and all the Grey’s Anatomy fans who loved him). Not to worry, the odds of this happening are fewer than 1 in 500,000. But, while the odds are quite low, there are plenty of other unexpected events that can happen, and we need to be prepared.
Process documentation identifies tasks and provides instructions on the steps to complete a process.
While many businesses rely on documenting processes for process improvement, training, and preserving company knowledge, there is one huge benefit to having your processes documented. It provides a road map for others in case you’re hit by a bus!
If you own a business or manage a team, I’m sure there are positions in which you wonder what would happen if that person disappeared. And people do disappear, sometimes without notice. People resign without notice, fall suddenly ill, or experience a tragic accident (RIP George ☹).
I have always worked with the mindset of being prepared in case something happened to me (and praying that it doesn’t involve a bus). What tasks and processes do you complete that no one else knows how to do? Are the steps documented so that if you don’t come in tomorrow, someone else could pick up where you left off and the business could continue as usual?
Documenting processes is actually quite simple. However, there are many processes that people don’t bother documenting simply because they know the process so well that it doesn’t need to be written down. Unfortunately, your head is a vault that only you can access! (Well, in some cases, this is quite fortunate, but we’re discussing knowledge that others need). Process documentation does not need to be complex. Simply writing out a list of steps can suffice. One option for easily documenting web-based processes is Scribe, an online platform that will record your steps and provide a pdf document of the steps.
Think of process documentation like a cookbook. You are writing recipes for how to complete a process. To be effective, be sure to list every step required. When following a recipe, you will notice instructions such as pre-heating the oven, what temperature to set your oven to, and how long to bake the dish in addition to the list of ingredients and how to prepare and combine each one. Do not skip basic steps. As a best practice, be detailed and concise.
The bottom line is, process documentation is critical to the ongoing success of any business. No matter how well you know how to do something, write it down…just in case.
This post is courtesy of MMC Office and Accounting Manager Kimberli Holcombe.