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Reevaluating your Documentation

Know When to Reevaluate Your Documentation

Having processes and procedures on paper is a big step.  But after some time, there are a few indicators that you may need to take a look.  If any of these sound familiar plan some time in your schedule this quarter to make adjustments.  

You can’t remember what is and isn’t documented.

This is a very common occurrence.  Once you jump onto the documentation bandwagon it sometimes escalates into being a LOT of documents in a LOT of different places with LITTLE organization.  And before you know it…

More than a year has passed since anyone looked at it.

Often, the solution in this situation is to completely erase the documentation.  It can mean that the process is easy enough to not require documentation, the process changed drastically and it is no longer useful, or the process no longer exists.  It can also mean that it is purely for reference or future training.  This is a frequent occurrence when a team member joins the team, learns quickly, and has a good memory.  That doesn’t always mean that the documentation should be scratched.  It could still be very important as a part of policy, accountabilities and check-ins, and/or used for training in the future.  Be clear on when an inventory of resources is done to determine relevant documentation from those that just take up space and get in the way.

A big change has occurred to your team, the economy, or your customers/audience.

Sometimes the way we do business changes drastically.  At that point, deciding when to start from scratch or when to make revisions is key.  Within your documentation, several rules should exist.

      • Who has final say in approving policies, processes, etc.
      • What is the difference between policy, processes, checklists, etc.  Any type of documentation you utilize.
      • How often and how edits take place. 
      • What software, systems, or assumptions you use for different types of documentation.   

The best time to update documentation is when a new set of eyes are on it.  With changing team members make it clear before handing over documentation what kind of feedback you would like them to share.  This should be defined by your processes and your team.  



You and or your team are confused or frustrated with the current documentation or process.  

Be careful with this one!  There will always be people who are unhappy or those who need more explanation.  If someone new steps into a role and a problem with documentation and training is identified, make sure that their rationale for documentation is aligned with that of your organization.  Just because they prefer Google Drive to Microsoft Sharepoint doesn’t mean that you must change your entire setup.  Revisit and share the WHY behind documentation (Review the Who and Why They Should Care).  They may have a fresh set of eyes that points out what was once overlooked and requires an explanation. 

If the frustration is shared amongst many and people are miserable with the process or the documentation, then diving in for a review is important.  Employee satisfaction goes hand in hand with engagement and efficiency.  And sometimes, the mindset of employees on why a slightly annoying process keeps a nightmare from happening is a valuable change.


There are Variances appearing between your financial budgeting and what actually happened.


This requires that you make regular assumptions and then measure against them.  An indicator of over or under budget can signal a shift in how well something is working, not working, or an external factor.  Operational strategy relies on noticing these variances, interpreting what happened and then reforecasting to set new expectations.  It works very similarly for the good and the bad.  An excess of profits can help you to take advantage of a situation for even greater return. An excess of expenditures or reduction in revenue can allow you to make adjustments before the situation causes layoffs or reduction in services. 

New software could help you do better at the process or documenting it.

Change is a constant.  New technology, new skills, and new thinking often make or break an organization.  While you don’t want to jump the gun and change things up too often, keeping tabs and determining where a benefit will greatly outweigh the cost of the change can increase effectiveness, efficiency, even team engagement.  This is true for both the process itself and how you have documented it.    A helpful resource for new and trending software is AppSumo.com.  Industry associations, memberships organizations, and certification programs all may have special discounts or prodeals for members.  A favorite program of mine is ProcessSt, which has customizable templates, options for video and images, plugins for other websites, etc.  I believe in these sites and have found them so useful that I am an affiliate. If you click on them and like them you and I both get rewarded.

Know documentation is important but not sure how relevant to you and your team?  Check out our previous post on Process Documentation: Game Changer.  

Don’t have any processes documented yet and not sure where to get started?  Check out our Getting Started with Documentation article.  


Wrap it up


Noticing one of these situations will lead you to making your processes and procedures more effective.  You could save time, save money, save frustration, and become a more sustainable operation.  

But you don’t have to wait to experience one of these indicators!  With different types of documentation you should create some intention around a check-in on your systems.  Schedule an annual review for larger policies that need approval and create working documents throughout the year with updates as you come across them.  Ask employees to markup their daily checklists or workflows and make changes on a more regular basis.  And consider as your organization grows, if something changes frequently if you should get rid of documentation or if a new process is identified and you need additional pieces.

 Happy Documenting!

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