The Client's Role
Select the right resources
Sometimes companies will make perfunctory attempts to memorialize work processes and procedures, but the documents get cast aside because the information isn't organized and presented effectively or the documents are not regularly updated. Knowing and being able to perform one's job doesn't necessarily mean that the same person has the organizational and creative writing skills to adequately communicate all aspects of that job. Consider looking outside the company for a qualified Work Process Documentation Consultant who combines technical writing skills, industry experience and the ability to troubleshoot your work processes.
Involve the workers as subject matter experts (SME's)
While the workers themselves may not be equipped to draft effective guidelines and procedures, they should be involved in the process. A qualified, highly-experienced professional will be able to expose knowledge gaps, work flow obstacles, and improvement opportunities without putting your workers on the defensive. When workers contribute to the documentation process it boosts their morale and leads to a better finished product.
An axiom says that the best way to learn what we don't know about a topic is to prepare to teach it to someone else. That basic principle can be applied in the workplace to expose problem areas. By answering the key questions: "who," "what," "when," "where," and "how" for internal work processes, the documentation effort serves multiple purposes. The drafting stage exposes work flow weaknesses and improvement opportunities while the finished product provides solutions that lead to improved alignment of coworkers. Effective problem solving begins with a concise definition of the problem and the documentation process provides the clarity that is needed to uncover the most effective solutions.
Our process involves 5 major steps:
Step 1: Establish the document Purpose, Scope, and overall Organization
Step 2: Gather content via interviews with SME's and review of existing documents
Step 3: Prepare initial draft
♦ Clearly define each work flow step and attempt to answer the key questions (who, what, when, where, and how) related to those steps based on available information
♦ Identify problem areas, information gaps, and improvement opportunities
Step 4: Solicit feedback
Review and discuss draft(s) with SME or project manager. This typically involves an iterative process to explore work flow problem areas; improvement opportunities; gaps in content; and design of graphs, flow charts, and tables.
Step 5: Prepare final document