A lot of organizations are realizing the need for process and it has become part of their project life cycle. I would say that process documents will be one of the fundamental aspects in a software development environment. For you to be able to deliver, you need to know how to do it properly. To ensure this, here are some tips on the different tools and techniques in creating top-notch process documents for your organization.
When it comes to process documentation, a lot of businesses struggle in getting it right. Of course, it’s not always easy to do this. But there are a lot of things that we always have to keep mind when implementing the process documentation systems.
If you have worked on a process documentation project, you would know how important it is to identify the right tools and approaches. There are several ways of looking at this. How do you want to control the project? How do you want to organize your team and tasks, and even how do you want to measure all this.
A process is a sequence of actions or steps usually performed in order to achieve an objective. Processes are frequently documented for efficiency and effectiveness. However, there are many different ways of documenting processes, and it is important to choose the most appropriate method for your needs. Here you will find some of the best tools for process documentation that can be utilized by software command line experts, project managers and developers.
What Is a Process Documentation Tool?
Process documentation tools help you document all steps and details of certain tasks and activities. They can document data through tutorials, policies, process maps, etc.
Properly documenting a process is the first step to understanding it. This understanding can be used to train new employees, help existing employees understand how the company works, and even find and fix issues in a process, making it faster and more effective.
These process documentation tools usually focus on a specific process for better results.
Process Documentation Tools Your Team Should Use
Here are the best process documentation tools and the best places to use them:
1. Electronic Signature Tools
Electronic signature tools allow you to get documents signed online, by anyone, anywhere. Here are the best ones:
Signaturely is one of the simplest and most effective ways of getting legally-binding online signatures from anyone, anywhere.
Signaturely allows you to use its signature tool right away—for free. You can connect your Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive accounts to upload your existing documents. You can then use the Signaturely editor to set up signature fields and send the documents out to your signees with a custom message.
Once they receive the documents, Signaturely will guide them through the online signature process, documenting the needed data to make the signatures legally binding.
You can send up to three signature requests per month for free, with access to the audit log and history, which documents the process for you.
Pricing is very simple: $10 per month provides you with an unlimited number of signature requests, and $15 per month also gives you an unlimited number of templates along with team management and custom branding tools.
Sign up for free to start using Signaturely today.
HelloSign is an eSignature platform that brings simplicity to the table, allowing even sporadic users to send online documents to be signed online.
This is a good option for privacy-focused users since HelloSign offers “Bank-level security,” protecting your documents through an SSL encryption and secure server infrastructure hosted at a state-of-the-art Tier III, SSAE-16 and ISO 27001 certified data center.
HelloSign can also be integrated with multiple cloud-based servers and Zapier.
Although its pricing for professional plans can be high, HelloSign unfortunately doesn’t offer unlimited templates in any price tier, making your process documentation more difficult if you need to sign multiple documents.
SignNow is an award-winning platform focusing on small businesses. It offers a very intuitive and user-friendly platform, fully-functioning Android and iOS apps, and multiple integrations with a custom API.
Trusted by 40% of Fortune 100 companies, it’s one of the best DocuSign alternatives and allows for very affordable professional options.
Process documentation may be challenging due to this program’s lacking search feature, which isn’t very functional and may slow your process. You also can’t use the platform to edit documents, so you’ll need to upload the fully-finished version.
2. Document Management Software
Document management software helps you get all your documents properly filed and easily accessible to the right people at the right time.
Here are the best options:
Launched in 2014, Templafy is a relatively new, all-in-one, Document Management Software. It is designed to specifically cater to large businesses, helping them streamline their storing and accessing of files. It achieves this through its most powerful tool: intelligence software.
Templafy’s intelligence software automatically shows the most relevant content to each of its users, using their employee title and interactions to identify and predict which documents they’ll need.
With its very advanced document managed software, you can save all your files on the same platform, making sure to keep the right documents visible to only the right people.
Focusing on sharing and collaboration, Hightail is a document management solution that’s perfect for anyone looking to send large files securely, simply, and accurately.
With Hightail, sharing is as simple as dragging or uploading a file of up to 500 GB and entering the information of the receiver. Once you’ve shared a file, the receiver will get an email notification allowing them to access the file.
Hightail also allows you to track when the file is delivered, when it’s opened, and when it’s downloaded.
Hightail offers a limited free plan, or try any paid option free for 15 days.
MasterControl is a document management software focused on helping you speed up your processes through automation and error-elimination.
This DMS is perfect for science and other research-based, product-driven companies, where it’s needed for documents to follow protocols and regulations.
With MasterControl, you also receive access to multiple collaboration, data collection, and auditing tools to help you ensure document compliance and quality control.
It’s also extremely safe, offering multiple layers of security for sensitive data.
Although this DMS isn’t very beginner-friendly, it’s one of the best tools for scientific process documentation.
3. Project Management Software
If you need to manage your projects online, project management software can help you create, organize, delegate and manage it to fruition.
Here are the best project management platforms:
One of the most popular task management platforms, Asana is incredibly versatile and can adapt to all kinds of teams and projects.
With Asana, you can manage teams, supervise project development, assign tasks, project visibility to specific users, and look at your process documentation through multiple views.
You can also use Asana for communication, allowing you to send announcements instead of printed memos, sending messages with the right context, and even adding online signatures.
Asana integrates with multiple tools and CRMs to better document and populate your processes.
StepShot brings about one of the easiest ways to get your process documentation done fast while making it look professional. With custom templates, free training, and dedicated support, writing a user manual or creating process documentation is no longer a pain.
This documentation tool can be used to train employees, share knowledge, delegate tasks, create knowledge-base articles, deliver documentation for clients, and much more. Your content can be stored on the cloud, giving you the ability to share your guides online and embed your content directly into your support knowledge base.
How StepShot Works
StepShot users can automatically generate training documents, web pages, presentations, videos, and images. They can also easily modify the outputs with professional editing and branding toolkits and customizable templates.
This super tool helps you to assign and distribute tasks, track each project with full visibility, and get real-time reports to improve your process efficiency. Bring smart process management into the core of your business, and give your team the power to continuously improve the processes they use every day. With the process management suite app for Confluence, you can prolong quality management, process descriptions, clear workflows, capture feedback, and coordinate the implementation of tasks.
Lucidchart is a collaborative diagramming solution for your entire organization. If your team loves visual representation of processes rather than written text, Lucidchart might just be the tool for you. It allows you to create simple flowcharts, complex technical diagrams, and everything in between to communicate with clarity.
This tool works best with teams as it allows users to collaborate with their peers on any device across the platforms they already use, chat with teammates, or leave a comment or feedback directly inside a document.
How Lucidchart Works
With this software, diagramming is quick and easy because you can start with a process map or flowchart that describes the flow of materials and information, and displays the tasks associated with the task at hand. Creating a process map helps organize processes and makes information visible to everyone. By creating a process map or flowchart, you are producing a visual example of the process to better understand it and see areas for improvement.
Here are steps to creating a process map:
Step 1: Identify the problem
What is the process that needs to be visualized? Type its title at the top of the document.
Step 2: Brainstorm all the tasks that will be involved
At this point, sequencing the steps isn’t important, but it may help you to remember the steps needed for your process. Decide what level of detail to include. Determine who does what and when it is done.
Step 3: Determine the boundaries
Where or when does the process start? Where or when does the process stop?
Step 4: Determine and set up the flow
It’s helpful to have a verb begin the description. You can show either the general flow or every detailed action or decision.
Step 5: Draw basic flowchart symbols
Each element in a process map is represented by a specific flowchart symbol, which together represents process mapping symbols, so determine which symbol will flow with which.
Step 6: Finalize the process flowchart
Review the flowchart with other stakeholders (team members, workers, supervisors, suppliers, customers, etc.) to make sure everyone is in agreement. Make sure you’ve included important chart information like a title and date, which will make it easy to reference.
How to Use Process Documentation Software
The complete essence of process documentation will be defeated without a full grasp of proper use. Appropriate usage is overly important to the success of your organization. By documenting how a given process is executed, you can improve the overall efficiency of your organization.
Knowing what to do in process documentation is the very first step to achieving success in your quest for modern business practices. Process documentation apps let you easily include text, images, videos, emails, and more.
- You can use text formatting to get things done. This works well for any kind of task.
- Process documentation tools are smart and require an internet connection.
- There are multiple overviews and easy-tracking features to help ease the processes.
- They can be shared with just a link (the recipient doesn’t even need an account).
- You have the luxury of exporting PDF documents for offline access if desired.
- There’s room for you to export spreadsheet overviews of your processes.
- You are at liberty to print your templates so that offline tracking can be seamless.
- Your documents can be fully accessed from any device that has an internet browser.
8 Steps to Implement Process Documentation Software
Process documents should reflect the specific needs of your company and be as short or long as your company needs. It would be an effort in futility to have a monotonous process that is capable of stressing out members of your team. Be sure to make your document with a loose structure. Making sure you have the right people delegated to each task is important for good results from execution.
As it is with other automation tools, there are steps in getting the whole work done. However, it is important that the steps are strictly adhered to. Here are the steps involved in the documentation:
Step 1: Identify and name the process
Factoring what you want to set out to achieve with process documentation is the first step in the right direction for you. Identify the process you want to document and give it a title. Be sure that the title is well recognized by the users so that you do not waste time with them trying to identify and carry out tasks.
Step 2: Define the process scope
There is no time to dilly dally—you’ve got to have the end in mind at the very beginning. So determine and define what is to be achieved from the word go. This would mean that you define the aim, importance, and why all hands must be on deck to achieve the end goal that is the main focus.
Step 3: Determine the process boundaries
You want to be sure that you have a start and endpoint by determining where a task should begin as well as the endpoint. This is to help members of your team carry out the task they are given efficiently.
Step 4: Spell out the process outputs
When everyone on your team knows what is expected of them they drive results easily. So let the handlers and members know the various spots to visit to track the project. A place like a project tracking website and email boxes for updates must be easily accessible.
Step 5: Identify the process inputs
Having an eye to detect what process outputs are involved is so necessary. This initiates the process and where it comes from. Again, the inputs may not be a specific part of the process, but they are a critical part of the documentation of the process.
Step 6: Brainstorm the process steps
Sit down and take time to brainstorm, and go over the process all over again. This is important to eliminate errors and uphold consistency. Mastery of all processes helps to fine-tune the rough edges with time. In all rehashing, the whole process will make things pan out successfully.
Step 7: Categorize the steps sequentially
Order is one of the things that bring about success, so be sure to categorize the steps in a sequential order that flows into others. When there is order, clumsiness gets eliminated, and you can be sure that you’re headed for the right outcome.
Step 8: Describe who is involved in the project
You plan to fail in the whole process documentation game when you do not identify the players involved. Spell out who is involved in the task. This is so that everyone is given a sense of responsibility. When everyone knows what is expected of them, they run with the vision and strive for the result.
How effective is process documentation software in carrying out automated tasks?
Ever since process documentation hit the scene, more has been built while more and more businesses are gaining traction.
So just how effective is process documentation?
Find out below:
- Process documentation improves process efficiency and makes everything seamless.
- If you are after upgrading the overall quality of your business, documenting each step can bring areas of improvement to light.
- Improved processes save money and improve the overall process.
- Process documentation saves development time. A standardized way of creating processes makes setting up new processes seamless.
- It eliminates flaws. Documenting the process allows you to locate flaws and rectify them.
- Automating processes ensures compliance. Being specific with how to execute tasks helps to meet regulations.
- Promotes inventory and collects your business process. The most important processes are saved for the sake of newer team members.
- The process automation helps to document and optimize your process in a structured template.
- If you want to have a robust communication system, then process documentation is always the way to go. It aids the development of messages and a communications plan.
- Promotes the collection of processes in a manner that brings about nothing but success.
- Validation of processes is also part of the bright side of process documentation.
Common Challenges of Process Documentation Software
Nearly everything has its downsides. This is also the case with process documentation as with other automation tools. As you tinker with process documentation it’s important that you are acquainted with some common challenges that might pose a bit of threat.
Here are some of the challenges that might be waiting for you as you delve into automating your processes.
- Process documentation may seem cost-friendly at the beginning but prove otherwise later.
As you and your team get more conversant with the usage, and as you sign on more members, you may find that maintaining any of these automation tools might be expensive. Put simply, process documentation tools are not priced against cost, they are priced against the value they can deliver.
- The steps to perfecting process documentation may pose a time-consumption challenge.
Perfection takes practice and constant tweaking. Nothing good comes easy, which is why the journey to being perfect might not be smooth and easy at first.
However, with time and experience, things can get a bit softened up.
- The tasks involved can be prepared by people who can’t write or who don’t know the material.
You probably know by now that anyone can write processes, but care must be taken so that a total novice with no initiative doesn’t prepare tasks that might wreck the organization.
- The various tasks at hand can be hard to read and comprehend.
When there are errors caused by the author of the documentation process, it might automatically displace those who have a hard time with reading and comprehending the instructions and structures that have been laid.
- The process might be misleading if not well structured.
If there has not been thorough research and study before processes were created and structured, you risk the structure challenge becoming lean. This is because there must be a set of rules to guide you.
- Process documentation could get outdated easily, except when updated from time to time.
If success must be achieved, then updating the processes might be one of your best bets. However, many times there is a lapse in sticking to this routine because of want of time.
- Process documentation may throw your team off balance.
People can get stuck on how to leave out the old ways of doing things. Because process documentation is a modern and up-to-date system, it might make your team lose at first. However, with time and much sensitization, adapting becomes so easy.
What Can the Process Documentation Software Help You Achieve?
No business can succeed without having an increase in the number of customers. If you want your business to attract the very best of clients who are willing to pay you a premium, then process automation will help you achieve that.
It’s pivotal to note that it’s super important to create systems and processes that you are satisfied with. Processes that fuel the zeal for members of your team to work make all the difference. Thomas Parker of Stone & Wood wanted more out of automation, and indeed his expectations were met and even surpassed. He maintained quality assurance and smooth operations by using the SweetProcess tool, something he had struggled with for a while.
Here are the things you can achieve with the process documentation tool without the hassle:
Success in running your business
Every business wants to hit success come what may, and these are the very things that the process documentation achieves. When routine tasks are documented, prospects are reached, and repeat customers are recorded because of the way efficiency and quality are recorded.
Makes room for scaling up
Structure comes with its gains, and scaling up is the reward for structure. Documenting all your processes will make room for things to move in an upward trajectory.
Fosters modern-day best business practices
Clients are intently looking out for businesses that can meet their very core needs with new and tested trends. No business operating with an archaic approach attracts the best. If you want to stay relevant in the business world then documenting your processes is the way to go.
Challenges that affect choosing the right process documentation software
There are things that could pose a stumbling block when looking to choose the best process documentation software. This means that you might hit a brick wall when trying to choose the right process documentation software.
However, you needn’t be worked up as these are common challenges that can be surmounted. Here are the challenges to look out for:
- Fear of effective usage
This sort of fear is normal especially if you have not toed the process documentation route in the past. Nonetheless, with a proper study of the manuals involved, plus some research, you can cross the bridge.
Some documentation tools cost an arm and a leg. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find a cost-friendly one. However, this all depends on the type of tool you decide to settle for and the outcomes that you want to achieve.
- Compatibility with your team
For some people, one of the most difficult parts of documenting processes is finding a tool that can be adaptable to team members. However, with proper study of how these tools work, you will find that there is a specific tool for your team—and the SweetProcess tool is one of them.
You might follow certain business procedures which are the essential part of the business. You might have lengthy documentation which describes how you conduct those procedures or what the output of those procedures should be. The latter can very difficult when you have to keep updating it all the time as your business grows, new departments come into existence and new people join. Furthermore, quality of documentation improves with use and is not always very good in the start
Whether you’re a project manager or an office manager, you know how challenging it is to do processes documentation. This is why we have collected the best tools for process documentation and made them available in one place. Now preparing quality process documentation won’t be such a headache.