How to document your business processes

Jan 7, 2018

Congratulations!  You’re looking to outsource one (or more) of your business tasks.  The next step is to ensure the person you’re handing the task over to understands what it is you want them to do. You now need to document the process behind the business task you’re about to hand over.

After figuring out what tasks to delegate (if you’re struggling with this – check out our handy worksheet which will assist), this is the next part of outsourcing that I see small business owners struggling with. Like most small business owners, you’ve probably been taking care of most tasks yourself and you simply DO IT. There hasn’t been a need to document a process before, but some tasks, especially if they’re specific to your business, can be difficult to hand over unless you’ve documented the how. Where do you start?

Explain the why

Users are more likely to follow a process to the letter if they understand the purpose behind the process. So, make sure you include an outline as to how the task you’re documenting fits into your business – what value does it bring?

Show the user how to do it

Where possible, include screenshots, so users can easily see what you mean in your written process.

An even better option is to include a video of you completing the task. This will make it easy for a process user to understand the entire process from start to finish – which will decrease the amount of time it takes for them to get their head around it. It will also save you a tonne of time taking screenshots and placing them into your process document, formatting, etc.

Sounds great, how do I video my business process?

Loom is a Google Chrome extension which will allow you to record what is happening on your screen. I use Loom all the time to document and hand over client processes to the Admin Army Virtual Assistant team.

There are a few features that make Loom so good for documenting processes:

  1. When recording you can record your screen only (either one tab or your full desktop) or screen and cam.Screen and cam can be handy if you want to explain why you’re doing certain steps in a particular way, or if there are parts of the task that are completed off-screen that you want to explain.
  2. It allows you to add timestamped notes to the video (e.g. at one minute, 30 seconds (1:30) click this button), with the click of a button. This is useful for further explaining items or further expanding on the ‘why’ behind a particular step.
  3. All videos are hosted on Loom – once you’ve finished recording, you create a link and add that to your documented process.

An added bonus of videoing your process is that there is the option to hand it over to a virtual assistant like one of the Admin Army team, just like that and have them pull together the written documentation for you to approve.

Document your business process step-by-step

Number your process

Start at one and work your way on from there. By numbering the process, you’re making it clear to the user what order they should complete the tasks in. For some parts of the process, this may not matter, but it’s a useful way to ensure all users who complete the process do it the same way.

Keep each stage of the process succinct and clear

It’s vital to ensuring your user can follow your process that each stage is super obvious.

If I was writing a process on making a cup of tea this would be an example of how not to separate the stages:

  1. Boil the jug and put a tea bag and sugar into the cup
  2. Once boiled, pour hot water into the cup and stir
  3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes for the tea to seep, take tea bag out of cup and add milk

There are multiple steps listed within each number, which makes it easy for someone to miss a vital component (like adding sugar, for example).

This is how the stages should be separated:
  1. Boil the jug
  2. Add one tea bag to the cup
  3. Add one teaspoon of sugar to the cup
  4. Once boiled, add hot water to the cup
  5. Stir
  6. Let sit for 3-4 minutes for the tea to seep
  7. Take teabag out of cup
  8. Add milk

Three stages become eight. Perhaps it’s a little over the top in this example, but it really leaves you with no doubt how I like my tea to be made. And if I was passing this process over to someone else to complete, my husband, for example, it would leave him with little doubt on how I expect him to make my tea.

That’s what you want when you document a process – the end user to know how you expect something to be done.

Make sure it’s right

Once you’ve finished documenting the process, take the time to work through the process by following the instructions you’ve written. This is the best way to see if you’ve missed out any vital steps, chances are, you’re so well versed in the process, you probably have.

If you have other people who complete the task, get them to read through your process and give you any feedback.  They might have a part of the process that they do a better way.

Once you’ve handed the task over, don’t forget to get feedback from the new process user as well.   Make sure that you take note of any questions they have when they work through the process the first time.  These are often a great indicator of parts that are worth expanding on to provide additional clarity.


If you’d like to discuss how the Admin Army team can help document some of your business processes or take over a task that you have recently documented, schedule your free, no-obligation discovery call with me today.




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