How to Create Process Documentation

How to create process documentation
Any organization, big or small, runs on processes. The process to hire an employee, sell a product, onboard clients, train teams, and the list is endless. 

To say that they form the core of an organization will be an understatement, as businesses simply cannot exist without processes. They are indispensable for firms to function seamlessly and script a positive growth story over a period of time. 

The importance of processes is well understood by businesses these days, but the question is why to document them?

Online documentation of processes is as important as creating them, just so, employees can refer to them anytime they want and carry out the assigned tasks with convenience.

How to Create a Process Document

Building a process document is also a process in itself! 

So, let’s find out how you can implement this process and create a compelling process document.

Here are eight simple steps to help you get started.

Step #1 Ask Questions

Before you start creating the user documentation, make sure that your process is error-free and is preferred by employees, for there is no point in documenting a process if no one uses it in the first place. 

You can ask yourself questions like – 

  • Is the process relevant for employees? 
  • Is it accurate and free of flaws? 
  • How frequently do employees use it? 
  • Is it obsolete and needs changes?

Questions like these will give you clarity over whether to go further with documenting your processes. 

Also, after you take the final call and decide to create the document, make sure that you bring an expert team on board to do all the drafting, designing, and publishing part.

Bringing inexperienced people on the boat can turn out to be a blunder. 

If you are of the view that bringing your entire workforce to build processes will deliver better results, you are mistaken. Instead, this will lead to everything going helter-skelter. So, a better idea will be to assign the task to a team of experts who can work on the document and deliver the results you desire. 

Step #2 Pick a Tool

The word process document itself implies something written online. Who reads processes offline these days, and also, who has the time and the resources to write something on paper, create its copies, and share it with the workforce.

It’s time-consuming and wallet-smashing – you definitely would not want that. 

With a slew of options available online, making a choice can be challenging. To zero in on one, check out for a few major features of the tools you shortlist. Some of the features can be – 

  • Online editor 
  • Branding and customization options 
  • Reports that help you evaluate the performance of your document 
  • Collaboration options 
  • Security settings 
  • Options to hide or display content 
  • Multiple language support 
  • Multiple device support 
  • Integrations with ticketing tools

These are some significant features that any documentation tool you choose must-have. 

Step #3 Start Writing

So once you have the right tool in place, set it up, choose a template of your choice, and start writing your process document. While creating a document, it’s crucial to pick a relevant template, for it gives you a defined framework to place your content. All you have to do is replace the placeholders with relevant information. 

WYSIWYG EditorWriting gets even easier if the process documentation software you use has an online editor that works like MS Word. You can also structure the content by adding headers, footers, and designing your table of contents, the way you want. 

While writing, make sure that – 

  • Paragraphs and sentences are short, crisp, and accurate 
  • Language is simple and clear 
  • Active voice is used across the document 
  • Bullets are placed wherever necessary 
  • The document looks clean and visually-appealing

The example below will give you an idea of how to craft content for your process documentation.

process documentation example

Source: ProProfs

Step #4 Customize to Match Your Brand

The process document will be used extensively by your employees, so why not design it in the best way possible. The only way you can turn your otherwise dull and drab process document into a professional-looking document that’s worth reading is by giving it a look that matches your brand. 

Add your company logo, brand name, colors, and themes to your process document, so that whoever reads it knows where the document is coming from. Also, after your employees know that the document reflects your brand, they start expecting nothing but excellence, so make sure that you pull all stops to give your employees what they want.

Easily edit and update knowledge base brandingBesides, customization involves tailoring the document to suit your employees who are spread across the globe by creating content in their native language. This way, your entire workforce will be able to understand your processes and do their jobs with the utmost ease. 

Check out this video on “How to Create Online Documentation”, to know more about customization. 

Step #5 Add Multimedia to Enhance Engagement

All text and no visuals can make your process document lackluster, to the extent that your employees can lose all interest in referring to the document, and might prefer emailing or asking colleagues for help. If this happens, the entire objective of creating a process document will go futile.

To avoid this, ensure that you have the right blend of images, videos, and text. Use them wisely across your document, but don’t overdo it, as the excess of anything can be disastrous.

Use screenshots to demonstrate how a particular action should be completed. Add images wherever relevant and use videos where you think the concept is a bit complicated. Most people prefer videos over anything else, given that they make things easy to understand. Watching a video is any day better than going through a large chunk of black and white text.

The screenshots below show how effective the use of text, videos, and screenshot can help in explaining processes.

Example of process documentation articleSource: ProProfs

Step #6 Work Collaboratively

Process documentation cannot be created in silos. All experts need to come together and contribute significantly to expedite the process of building the document, and to ensure that only flawless content goes live. 

For this, you can allot specific roles such as contributor, editor, administrator, and viewer to different individuals. For instance, all your experts can be divided into editors and contributors. Some of your employees can be assigned the task of administrator, who is basically responsible for adding users, assigning them roles, and managing their permissions. All other employees can be kept as viewers. 

This entire process promotes collaboration by bringing all employees together on a single platform. 

assign roles and permissionsStep #7 Review

Since a process document is something your employees will be using regularly, you need to be extra careful while publishing content. Setting up a full-fledged review process ensures that multiple editors review all your articles before going live.  

The best review route is where writers and editors can assign a status to the articles they are working on. So, for instance, if a writer is still working on an article, the status can be kept as “In Progress,” and if an article is completed, but there are a few changes that are yet to be done, the status can be “Draft.” 

Similarly, the status can be “Ready for Review” once the article is submitted to the editor. The editor can then keep its status as “Under Review” so that everyone knows that a particular piece of content is going through the review process and will be published soon. 

Besides the regular article status, you can also set custom status for articles. For instance, if an editor has reviewed and passed an article for a second review to another editor, its status can be kept as “Under 2nd Review”. 

Setting workflow status is one of the best ways to keep track of the stages of articles and to ensure that articles pass through multiple reviews before going live.

Step #8 Publish

It’s finally time to publish the process document.

You can publish your process document on the web with a single click, and you can even unpublish it anytime you want. Also, if you want to save the current version of the document, and publish an updated version, that is very much possible with a tool like ProProfs Knowledge Base software

Publish your process documentation articleIts version control system lets you save different versions of your document, and refer to them anytime you want.

Publish your document on the web in a way that they can be accessed easily via mobile phones, laptops, as well as tablets. So even if employees want to go through a particular process or find any related information, they can access it wherever and from any device, they are using. 

Step #9 Improve Your Document

Online documentation of any kind needs constant improvement. Some processes might get obsolete over time, and new ones will get created, so all of this needs to be documented well. 

Also, there is a possibility that your employees don’t find what they are searching for, or the search results they get aren’t relevant to the question they ask. In this case, reports are your best friend. 

Reports give you a bird’s eye view of how your document is performing, and if employees are finding it useful. They give you insights into – 

  • Total searches 
  • Popular and poorly rated articles 
  • Failed and successful searches 
  • New articles created 
  • Most liked articles

And much more…

Also, this information will be presented in graphical and tabular form, making it easy for you to identify areas of improvement.

Watch this video to gain a better understanding of how you can use reports to improve the performance of your documentation.

Are You ready?

Creating a process document can be tricky and challenging. So it’s essential that before beginning to build it, you first brainstorm with the team regarding the current processes, the obsolete ones, and the ones that are in the pipeline. 

This will give you an idea of what to document and what your workforce actually needs at the moment. 

Also, check out which tool fits the bill when it comes to creating a process document. Choosing one from a sea of options can seem daunting at first, but with the right advice, you will be able to make up your mind and zero in on the right one.

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.