Documenting Processes and Procedures
As we continue to flesh out our Data Governance framework at NECC, an important tenet that we try to build on is the idea of consistency of execution across the college. In the long run, data governance will allow us to break down silos, eliminate redundant work being done in different functional areas, and ensure that all areas of the colleges are following best data practices. We are already beginning to see this idea of consistency with data governance paying dividends, but something else that will be similarly helpful for our individual areas is process and procedure documentation.
Generally speaking, process and procedure documentation is the practice of regularly documenting how a process or procedure is executed. Similar to data governance, it’s easy to consider process documentation to be cumbersome, but the up-front work required will pay dividends down the road.
Benefits of Good Process/Procedure Documentation
- A Clear Point of Reference – If any questions come up about a documented process or procedure that happened in the far past, documentation can prevent wild goose chases to figure out how things were done. Furthermore, clear documentation is a helpful reference to ensure that the process is executed precisely every time.
- Training Resources – Process documentation can be extremely helpful for onboarding new employees who otherwise might have to learn on the job, which is less than ideal.
- Useful for Process/Procedure Evaluation and Improvement – Once a procedure is documented, the document can be used to take a holistic view of the procedure which can be helpful for finding ways to further optimize it.
Documentation Best Practices
- Consider who might be reading the documentation and what information should be included to be most helpful for the intended audience.
- The documenter should ideally attempt to write easy-to-follow steps that balance the inclusion of enough information with being clear and concise.
- If applicable, computer screenshots can be a helpful visual aid, especially for things that are difficult to explain with text.
- Any context that might be helpful for readers to understand should be included as appropriate. Examples of these things might be:
- What is the purpose of the process or procedure?
- The reasoning that went into how the process was modeled
All in all, process documentation is not a one-time task, but a continuous endeavor that should keep up with your areas’ processes and procedures as they develop. There are also tools out there, like https://www.tango.us/, that can help you more easily generate documentation, so it doesn’t always have to be a difficult process to develop documentation! Please reach out to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness if you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you can improve your areas’ process and procedure documentation!