By Michael Lang
We all know why it’s important to have a process for how we do our work: it allows us to judge performance, assign roles, and predict results. But what about documenting one? Can documenting a process help us to improve our performance? The simple answer is: Absolutely! Effective process documentation establishes step-by-step instructions for how to complete a business process, thereby helping personnel to execute the process the same way each time. Process documentation also facilitates training new personnel and establishing new company locations. These benefits enable managers to enhance productivity and control outcomes. Let’s examine how Unitex uses its process documentation to improve results.
A Clear Standard to Map Performance
If you’ve ever been lost before, then you know the importance of having a map (or a GPS): the right map can show you how to get to your destination. The same goes for process documentation: having clear, step-by-step instructions that lead to a distinct objective will help you to achieve what you aim to do the same way each time. If you’re working on a team, then documentation will also establish roles for all participants, thereby unifying the team towards a common goal. At Unitex, we have written documentation covering standard operating procedures (SOPs) for processes ranging from machine operation to quality checks on finished linen. These documents enhance the capability of personnel by establishing repeatable steps, clarifying standards, and setting roles and responsibilities for process participants.
Documentation Will Help with Training
Imagine what it would be like to train for a new position without any documents, graphics, or cheat sheets. Sounds tough, right? Effective process documentation can eliminate that problem. When training new personnel, managers can provide documentation to the trainees for use as study aids. This practice will allow the new hires to focus their entire effort on the training process rather than note-taking. Managers can also refer to the documentation to ensure they cover all the information the new hires require for their positions. In our business library, Unitex currently has guides covering the development and utilization of reports, the essentials of major plant systems, and the required training objectives for management positions. These documents have improved training results and decreased the time for new personnel to become fully proficient at their jobs.
Written Standards Aid in Launching New Locations
As companies expand their businesses, they face a host of challenges: capital generation, site and equipment selection, and personnel staffing are just a few examples. One major challenge is to ensure that operational processes and standards in the new location are consistent with other locations in the company. With the right documentation in place, management personnel can facilitate establishing process consistency between locations. This practice helps personnel at the new location achieve desired outcomes, thereby generating more success from the expansion. At Unitex, we opened a new laundry facility earlier this year. Since we had documentation covering the core set of processes and procedures in the new plant, our management and operations personnel were able to use it to support ramping up the new plant to full productive capability.
Knowing how to get to where you want to go, improving the outcomes of training, and maintaining consistency during growth are three solid-gold selling points for why your business should document its processes. At Unitex, we’ve found that writing and following our process documentation has helped us to achieve those three outcomes and a lot more!
Michael Lang is a Process Analyst with Unitex, and has developed and written business and process documentation for numerous years. You can find him on LinkedIn. To learn more about what we do at Unitex, click here.