Process documentation needs to include a few basic elements to be a useful management tool.
A great approach has the person who is responsible and accountable, the person who has the authority, be documented first and foremost. It’s not just having a nice flowchart with objects and arrows. You’ve got to know who is responsible for that, who can change it, and who is accountable to deliver on it.
Next, you have to define the deliverables. What is this process’s output? What do you want to come out of it? What is the time cycle of that process? How long is it going to take? How long should it take? What are you going to do to measure that? You have measurements. You’ve got to put metrics around every process and know your expectations for error rates, turnaround time cycles, number of units going through, cost, and many other different specific measurements.
Last but not least, there needs to be a way to address improvement. If you don’t have that process map and those numbers to look at on a monthly basis or weekly basis, you can’t take a good hard look at it and improve it. Whether you remove steps, change steps, add tools or try to make the process more efficient, you need to work toward improvement.
What do you get out of good process documentation? Enterprise risk management is overlooked in process. A good process is part of that, the key to building a sustainable operating and business model is to look at it holistically. You have to say to yourself, “I am managing the risk of the entire organization. What happens if I don’t do well at this basic task or if I am unable to sell more business?” You have to look at it in the totality what you are trying to do to your company.
It’s often overlooked, and in the HR services industry we find many people who just simply don’t have it, won’t invest in it or haven’t put a culture in place to say that process documentation is important or use it as a tool for all of our conversations about how to improve the business. It has to be a constant, consistent search for perfection. You have to make it part of the culture to pull out the process docs, look at them, talk about them, and look at the measurements. It has to be ingrained in the company.