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When Businesses Should Start Documentation and How to Begin

June 24, 2022

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When you first start to document your business (that is, recording standard processes and creating an org chart), it might feel overwhelming or even discouraging. But once you understand the documentation life cycle — or when, how, and why to document — it’s much easier to complete the process. 

Meet Adi Klevit, founder and CEO of Business Success Consulting Group, Process People community member, and a Trainual certified consultant. Adi helps companies of all sizes scale and grow using well-documented processes, so she understands the documentation life cycle.

Adi recently joined us on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to discuss her experiences. And in this episode, she shares practical tips for documenting any business.

Start when your business is ready.

Adi says your business must be ready for documentation before you start writing anything down. “If you just started a business or have problems getting clients, customers, or patients, it’s not time to document,” she explained. Instead, your primary focus should be marketing and selling enough of your offering to hire more employees.

On the flip side, if your business has a solid roster of clientele and you’re ready to scale, it might be time to document your processes. And there’s no magic number of employees that make it the “right” time. “I’ve documented processes for businesses with less than ten employees, but they were profitable and growing fast,” Adi explained. It also doesn’t mean you can’t start documenting before you’re ready. It just shouldn’t be your primary focus. 

“If you want to scale and grow, [it’s] time to document.” – Adi Klevit, founder and CEO of Business Success Consulting Group

Document what has the highest return. 

To build momentum, Adi suggests starting with the business area where standard processes would help most — AKA the department with the most problems or negative customer feedback. “If you have fires and problems in your operations or sales department, start in sales,” she explained. She says that once you see how documenting these troublesome areas impact results, you’ll be more motivated to continue writing processes down and keep them updated.

“[Documenting your highest-return areas first] is the low-hanging fruit that can immediately create impact in the organization.” 

Decide how much to document. 

When you first write down your standard operating procedures (SOPs), you must decide how much to cover. Of course, you don’t want to write too much and overload your employees. But you also don’t want to miss anything important.

According to Adi, it depends on the type of business you run and what you want to accomplish. “[Technical businesses] need a lot of details to train employees, show compliance, and ensure quality control,” she told us. On the other hand, a less-technical business might only document onboarding, everyday tasks, and company policies. 

“[If you want to go deeper into a subject], you can always record a video instead of writing pages and pages.”

Remember why you need to document

Once you document your processes, you have to get buy-in from your team to ensure they work and make a difference. Adi says that starts with getting buy-in from the top — that is, you and your leadership team. “The business owner has to be behind it,” Adi explained. “They have to believe it’s needed and that everyone should [be following the SOPs].”

One way to keep your momentum going is to remember why you documented in the first place. Because when you keep track of your initial goal — whether it’s to fix hand-off issues between departments or leave work at a reasonable time — you’ll see the results of documentation and stay motivated to keep going. 

Know how to make it accessible

Part of getting everyone on board with documentation is also making it accessible. And according to Adi, the worst place to store your tribal knowledge is in Word or some other document software. “It has to be on a platform that everyone can easily access,” she explained. “With Trainual, you always know where it is and can just log in.”

Starting the documentation process can be overwhelming. But as long as you understand the documentation life cycle, you’ll know what, how, and why to document when you’re ready. And Adi’s best advice: don’t overthink it and just get started.

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Article

When Businesses Should Start Documentation and How to Begin

June 24, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

When you first start to document your business (that is, recording standard processes and creating an org chart), it might feel overwhelming or even discouraging. But once you understand the documentation life cycle — or when, how, and why to document — it’s much easier to complete the process. 

Meet Adi Klevit, founder and CEO of Business Success Consulting Group, Process People community member, and a Trainual certified consultant. Adi helps companies of all sizes scale and grow using well-documented processes, so she understands the documentation life cycle.

Adi recently joined us on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to discuss her experiences. And in this episode, she shares practical tips for documenting any business.

Start when your business is ready.

Adi says your business must be ready for documentation before you start writing anything down. “If you just started a business or have problems getting clients, customers, or patients, it’s not time to document,” she explained. Instead, your primary focus should be marketing and selling enough of your offering to hire more employees.

On the flip side, if your business has a solid roster of clientele and you’re ready to scale, it might be time to document your processes. And there’s no magic number of employees that make it the “right” time. “I’ve documented processes for businesses with less than ten employees, but they were profitable and growing fast,” Adi explained. It also doesn’t mean you can’t start documenting before you’re ready. It just shouldn’t be your primary focus. 

“If you want to scale and grow, [it’s] time to document.” – Adi Klevit, founder and CEO of Business Success Consulting Group

Document what has the highest return. 

To build momentum, Adi suggests starting with the business area where standard processes would help most — AKA the department with the most problems or negative customer feedback. “If you have fires and problems in your operations or sales department, start in sales,” she explained. She says that once you see how documenting these troublesome areas impact results, you’ll be more motivated to continue writing processes down and keep them updated.

“[Documenting your highest-return areas first] is the low-hanging fruit that can immediately create impact in the organization.” 

Decide how much to document. 

When you first write down your standard operating procedures (SOPs), you must decide how much to cover. Of course, you don’t want to write too much and overload your employees. But you also don’t want to miss anything important.

According to Adi, it depends on the type of business you run and what you want to accomplish. “[Technical businesses] need a lot of details to train employees, show compliance, and ensure quality control,” she told us. On the other hand, a less-technical business might only document onboarding, everyday tasks, and company policies. 

“[If you want to go deeper into a subject], you can always record a video instead of writing pages and pages.”

Remember why you need to document

Once you document your processes, you have to get buy-in from your team to ensure they work and make a difference. Adi says that starts with getting buy-in from the top — that is, you and your leadership team. “The business owner has to be behind it,” Adi explained. “They have to believe it’s needed and that everyone should [be following the SOPs].”

One way to keep your momentum going is to remember why you documented in the first place. Because when you keep track of your initial goal — whether it’s to fix hand-off issues between departments or leave work at a reasonable time — you’ll see the results of documentation and stay motivated to keep going. 

Know how to make it accessible

Part of getting everyone on board with documentation is also making it accessible. And according to Adi, the worst place to store your tribal knowledge is in Word or some other document software. “It has to be on a platform that everyone can easily access,” she explained. “With Trainual, you always know where it is and can just log in.”

Starting the documentation process can be overwhelming. But as long as you understand the documentation life cycle, you’ll know what, how, and why to document when you’re ready. And Adi’s best advice: don’t overthink it and just get started.

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When Businesses Should Start Documentation and How to Begin

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