Getting Started with Documentation
Getting Started with Documentation
when you want to document processes but don’t reallllly want to
Skip straight to the manual
The biggest roadblock I encounter with clients is when team members want no part in documenting anything. It is usually a general, “Do you want me to the work or do this?”. Managers and owners don’t want to push too hard or deal with the headache. Often times if they don’t get through one simple process documentation first they abandon the mission completely. I get it. I once felt that same way.
Ideally, the business should be running on its own with only strategic oversight from the managers and owners. Rather than just spending time IN the business, you should be spending more time ON your business.
Why you want to do it
- You can hire people and easily train them to take over
- You don’t have to remember things in your head – less room for error
- You can go on vacation without worrying so much
- You can sell your business for more money
- Your people know what you expect them to do and how to find the answers without you
Zero to finished isn’t a thing. Just Begin.
I was once told that I have a talent for taking something messy and organizing it into a system or a plan. That stuck with me and has had a huge impact on how I approach anything “from scratch”. In fact, there are very few things in life that you start and finish in the same day.
For instance, if you were told to create a manual for your least favorite task and that task was writing and posting a blog. You may hesitate before you even begin.
Where do you start?
Your idea of a manual is the IKEA novel for the 57 piece table you just put together. How do you make the blank piece of paper in front of you look like that?!
Tips and Tricks for Documentation
Having written thousands of manuals here are a few tips for you to be more successful:
- Make a list of potential procedures to document. Understand what you could really benefit from by having it written down. What will save you time and money? What can you pass off to an intern or other employee so you can move on to something more skilled? Maybe they are the things that you do monthly but don’t quite remember all the steps for.
- Start with the most basic list possible. Describe on a high-level of what needs to happen without the step by step instructions. Just get it started.
- Organize your basic list into headers that group tasks through milestones or stages of what you want to achieve. Maybe the stages look like what happens during brainstorming and drafting the blog vs uploading to WordPress and then creating and adding images with titles
- Take a step back and decide if it has to be any more complicated before you add more details. Do you really need to say you go this this website and enter these credentials and then go to this page and….?
- Think about who is going to be using these instructions and what their knowledge level will be
- Don’t describe things that you know change frequently
- Give it to someone else to DO the process. Have them ask you questions when they are done and then make adjustments.
- Then leave it alone until the process needs to be done again.
Just get started.
I really dislike starting things from scratch. The good news is that if you just get started you can come back to it later and make it better. In fact, you have to. You should regularly review and update manuals and standards to ensure they are still relevant. Depending on how much they are depended upon, this should be done as they used or on an annual basis.
Want a few more tips and tricks? Download this manual on creating a manual. I know….a manual…for creating a manual…I’m a monster!
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