Process Documentation Guide, Examples, and Free Templates

Use these templates to simplify and scale your team's process documentation.

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Stressed by growing pains, fighting fires, and wasted time? Scaling without well-documented processes is a recipe for inefficiency and a shocking 80% of workers lack the skills for their current roles, according to a Gartner survey of 7,000 employees.

The solution? Get your processes documented so you can save time, simplify, and scale without losing productivity. Documenting your processes provides new employees with the learning resources and skills they need to do their job more efficiently.

Let’s dive into best practices for creating process documentation and why you should improve yours.

What is process documentation? 

Process documentation is a comprehensive document showing how tasks will be executed, including the various steps involved from start to finish. 

Your business can have as many process documents as you need. The number of process documents you create usually depends on the size of your organization, the number of departments, and the number of processes each task requires. 

For example, the sales documentation process will be different from the marketing process. Likewise HR, R&D, and other departments. 

These are often combined into what companies call a playbook, standard operating procedures (SOPs), or an operations manual.

What are the benefits of creating process documentation?

Training new employees

Employee onboarding is easier when your processes are well documented. You save time by using repeatable processes to train your new hires. 

Analysis

Documenting your process helps you keep track of your employee performance. You can use existing documentation to analyze what's working and what isn’t. The insight shows you the parts of your workflow that need to be adjusted. 

Ensuring process transparency

Documentation helps maintain transparency in your company. Employees who aren’t close to a specific area of business operation can get insight into how tasks are performed outside of their department or immediate team. 

The new insight could lead to workflow improvements such as removing duplicate steps or tasks. It also reveals high pain points that turn into action items. Awareness of problem areas is sometimes all it takes to make incremental improvements in your process.

Preparing for the unexpected

When a new hire is joining your team, it’s usually to fill a vacancy, which means that other employees have to pick up more work until the new hire is fully onboarded.

If you don’t have a documented process, there will be missed deadlines, lower productivity, and a frustrated employee on your hands.

Documenting your process ensures that whether an employee is taking off temporarily or permanently, you always have resources when there’s an immediate need to train a new employee.

A shocking 80% of workers lack the skills for their current roles, according to a Gartner survey of 7,000 employees. Free up your time, level up your team, and skyrocket your productivity with our process documentation templates.

A shocking 80% of workers lack the skills for their current roles, according to a Gartner survey of 7,000 employees. Free up your time, level up your team, and skyrocket your productivity with our process documentation templates.

Stressed by growing pains, fighting fires, and wasted time? Scaling without well-documented processes is a recipe for inefficiency and a shocking 80% of workers lack the skills for their current roles, according to a Gartner survey of 7,000 employees.

The solution? Get your processes documented so you can save time, simplify, and scale without losing productivity. Documenting your processes provides new employees with the learning resources and skills they need to do their job more efficiently.

Let’s dive into best practices for creating process documentation and why you should improve yours.

What is process documentation? 

Process documentation is a comprehensive document showing how tasks will be executed, including the various steps involved from start to finish. 

Your business can have as many process documents as you need. The number of process documents you create usually depends on the size of your organization, the number of departments, and the number of processes each task requires. 

For example, the sales documentation process will be different from the marketing process. Likewise HR, R&D, and other departments. 

These are often combined into what companies call a playbook, standard operating procedures (SOPs), or an operations manual.

What are the benefits of creating process documentation?

Training new employees

Employee onboarding is easier when your processes are well documented. You save time by using repeatable processes to train your new hires. 

Analysis

Documenting your process helps you keep track of your employee performance. You can use existing documentation to analyze what's working and what isn’t. The insight shows you the parts of your workflow that need to be adjusted. 

Ensuring process transparency

Documentation helps maintain transparency in your company. Employees who aren’t close to a specific area of business operation can get insight into how tasks are performed outside of their department or immediate team. 

The new insight could lead to workflow improvements such as removing duplicate steps or tasks. It also reveals high pain points that turn into action items. Awareness of problem areas is sometimes all it takes to make incremental improvements in your process.

Preparing for the unexpected

When a new hire is joining your team, it’s usually to fill a vacancy, which means that other employees have to pick up more work until the new hire is fully onboarded.

If you don’t have a documented process, there will be missed deadlines, lower productivity, and a frustrated employee on your hands.

Documenting your process ensures that whether an employee is taking off temporarily or permanently, you always have resources when there’s an immediate need to train a new employee.

How to use this Card template

Stressed by growing pains, fighting fires, and wasted time? Scaling without well-documented processes is a recipe for inefficiency and a shocking 80% of workers lack the skills for their current roles, according to a Gartner survey of 7,000 employees.

The solution? Get your processes documented so you can save time, simplify, and scale without losing productivity. Documenting your processes provides new employees with the learning resources and skills they need to do their job more efficiently.

Let’s dive into best practices for creating process documentation and why you should improve yours.

What is process documentation? 

Process documentation is a comprehensive document showing how tasks will be executed, including the various steps involved from start to finish. 

Your business can have as many process documents as you need. The number of process documents you create usually depends on the size of your organization, the number of departments, and the number of processes each task requires. 

For example, the sales documentation process will be different from the marketing process. Likewise HR, R&D, and other departments. 

These are often combined into what companies call a playbook, standard operating procedures (SOPs), or an operations manual.

What are the benefits of creating process documentation?

Training new employees

Employee onboarding is easier when your processes are well documented. You save time by using repeatable processes to train your new hires. 

Analysis

Documenting your process helps you keep track of your employee performance. You can use existing documentation to analyze what's working and what isn’t. The insight shows you the parts of your workflow that need to be adjusted. 

Ensuring process transparency

Documentation helps maintain transparency in your company. Employees who aren’t close to a specific area of business operation can get insight into how tasks are performed outside of their department or immediate team. 

The new insight could lead to workflow improvements such as removing duplicate steps or tasks. It also reveals high pain points that turn into action items. Awareness of problem areas is sometimes all it takes to make incremental improvements in your process.

Preparing for the unexpected

When a new hire is joining your team, it’s usually to fill a vacancy, which means that other employees have to pick up more work until the new hire is fully onboarded.

If you don’t have a documented process, there will be missed deadlines, lower productivity, and a frustrated employee on your hands.

Documenting your process ensures that whether an employee is taking off temporarily or permanently, you always have resources when there’s an immediate need to train a new employee.

Process Documentation Guide, Examples, and Free Templates

Use these templates to simplify and scale your team's process documentation.

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Improving internal communication

More than just a document, process documentation is a form of internal communication. It takes time for a new employee to learn how a company operates and having a process document improves understanding of your organization. 

When everyone knows their roles in an organization, and whom they can speak to when they need help, productivity increases. 

Encouraging knowledge sharing

Knowledge gaps occur when employees with specialized knowledge and skill sets leave without documenting their process. When managers document their best practices for producing great results,  everyone on your team can recreate the same results using a similar process. 

Reducing costs and operational ambiguity

Documenting your process removes the ambiguity of roles and responsibilities. Documentation eliminates confusion and ensures clarity. When employees have clarity of focus, they spend more time generating revenue for your company and less time searching for answers that already exist.

All team members can refer to the document when the lines are blurred about who does what or how certain tasks should be performed.

Your process document explains:

  • Who is assigned to the task
  • Specific tasks that must be performed to complete a process
  • A step-by-step guide to performing the task

Who is involved in process documentation? 

Three parties are involved in business process documentation: 

  • The stakeholders 
  • Project team 
  • External parties 

Stakeholders 

A stakeholder could be anyone with a vested interest in the business.  Stakeholders with expertise in a specific department should have input in process documentation to give feedback where necessary. 

Project team 

The project team is accountable for process documentation. Each employee in the project team must document their process while performing tasks to ensure that every step in a process is recorded properly. 

However, documenting processes while working can be distracting. A good practice is to delegate the verification of information that’s added to each documentation to one or two subject matter experts to ensure that the information is a single source of truth. 

External parties 

You may elect to hire consultants to provide a fresh perspective and receive an unbiased judgment of your business practices. Taking a step back provides clarity and the ability to find more efficient ways of completing job functions.

To capture recommendations from stakeholders and external parties, here’s a change request template to guide you.

What should you include in your business process documentation? 

Your process documentation should include the following details: 

  • Policy: The overarching principles guiding the process and procedures.  These are usually set by senior management. 
  • Process: This is a series of activities that must be carried out to turn inputs into outputs. 
  • Procedure: The details of how each step will be carried out. 

Think of policies as the rules, process as an overview of all the steps to be executed, and procedure as a detailed explanation of each step. 

Your final document can be in the form of templates, videos, checklists, screenshots, or a combination of these. 

Best practices for successful process documentation  

Assess your process documentation tool 

Key requirements of the best process documentation tools: 

  • Designed to scale with your team
  • Keeps you in workflow instead of adding another destination
  • Built-in verification to ensure content is always up-to-date
  • Intuitive browser extension to bring knowledge where you work
  • Has a search feature you can easily use to find information
  • Bulk actions
  • Slack integration
  • Provides analytics
  • API
  • Robust integrations with the tools your team loves
  • Templates that will save you time. 

Identify and name the process 

Which process will you document first? Why will this process benefit your organization?  For example, are you developing a sales process to help your team lead prospects more efficiently through the buying cycle? Give it a name and briefly describe the process.

Define the scope of the process 

What’s included in the process and what would be outside the scope of work? Also, consider the resources needed to make the process effective. 

Collect information and organize steps

If it’s a process that involves multiple employees, host a brainstorming session with all relevant teammates. If you perform the task solo, document as you perform it.

After collecting information, organize the steps with clear instructions. It helps to use visual aids like pre-recorded explainer videos, diagrams, flow charts, and screenshots.

Define who is involved 

Describe the employee that is responsible for executing each step in the process. Be mindful to mention only the roles, not names because the process you're drafting will be used even after employees leave. 

Note exceptions to the normal process

A process document shouldn’t be rigid because some processes do not always follow a linear route. Flexibility is one of the cardinal marks of a good workflow. Where will exceptions occur and what steps should an employee take to mitigate them.

Explain process boundaries 

What triggers a process? Where does a process begin or end?  When is it done? Note it down. Define boundaries to clear any ambiguity.

Add control points 

Control points are added to strategic points in the process where risk could occur. As you draft the process, take notes of possible risky situations that should be monitored carefully.  

Identify process inputs and outputs 

Make a list of resources that will be required to start the process. Also, explain the output that should be expected when the process is completed. 

Use templates to standardize approach and final document

Templates help to create consistency with all the process documents. It also makes it easier for team members to follow instructions since they know what to expect

Here's a template to help managers standardize the way your team records internal processes. 

Make it visual 

67% of people absorb information better in a visual format.  Mixing text with visual elements makes it easier to understand and remember.  

Review, test, and tweak

Gather everyone who provided input to review the process document. Share your document with your team. Ask your team members to try the process on their own and see how it works. Test the process to ensure you haven’t missed a step and to determine if you need to tweak your document. 

Distribute 

Creating a process is one part, making sure it’s easily accessible is another. Store your process documents in wikis or company intranets that are easily accessible by everyone.

Revisit regularly to verify or update 

According to BPtrends, 96% of companies have documented processes, but only 4% measure and review them.  As your workflow evolves you’ll need to regularly update steps and make sure that the information you publish is accurate. 

With Guru’s verification engine, you’re confident that all your processes are up to date and accurate. You can choose subject matter experts to verify Cards or let Guru’s AI suggest Verifiers based on similar Cards.

Determine the interval for reviewing and updating your process document internally, then select that date as your verification interval on Guru. If you're unsure of the right interval, you can choose the default 90 days or the max timeline which is 12 months.  Teams you collaborate with can see cards as verified or unverified, so there will be no confusion. 

Improve your team's collective intelligence with process documentation

The only way to retain knowledge is to ensure that every employee documents their process. It saves time onboarding new employees and empowers them to complete tasks more efficiently.

Building a culture of knowledge sharing ensures that when one person succeeds, everyone else can tap into their knowledge to create a multiplying effect that leads to increased productivity and greater revenue for your company.

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