Developing and documenting your processes is the most important thing you can do whenever you ‘WORK ON’ your firm.
Because this one tactic will make your firm better, more effective, and more efficient.
You can take this documenting of processes as far as you want. It tends to be self-limiting.
Small processes may seem unnecessary, but even something as mundane as mailing an envelope needs to be explained to a new hire. Where are the envelopes, mailing labels, stamps, typed or hand written/lettered? Document it. Put it in the Process Storage Locker. The ‘very-easy-to-access’ Process Storage Locker.
Even if you are a one person outfit, there are dozens of processes that you shouldn’t re-create each time you do it.
Even if you are an employee in a firm, you can do this for yourself and become more valuable in the meantime.
A Few Suggested Criteria for your Process Storage Locker:
If you make your Process Storage Locker searchable then when it gets many entries it will still be easy to find things. There always comes a time when the shear quantity of content makes it off-putting to click through it. You want the friction for users to be minimal.
Before you get to the point that searching is preferable to clicking through, make it easy and obvious where everything is. I find that lists of about 10 items are easy to scan. Too many items and I skip right over what I’m looking for. The solution is sub-folders. Start with no folders. When you get 10 processes, add a folder for whatever you have the most of. Continue adding sub-folders in the same way. Eventually you may have something that looks like this.
If your processes are going to make you better, more effective, and more efficient, then you need to be able to tap into your knowledge from anywhere. I have addressed this before in the link that you will find below.
You don’t want all of this to get stale and out of date. Unreliability will taint the whole process. Simply review your processes every three years. To make this an easy task, date each process when you write it up. Quarterly, sort your Process Storage Locker by date and see what you have that is three years old. You will only find about a half dozen. Half of those will still be accurate. Just re-date at the least so that their last modified date can be used to find them again in three years.
Whenever you use one of your processes it will be handy to check off your progress. Checklists would be ideal but other formats will work, too. Your policy should be to copy the master into whatever project you are working on and track your progress there.
In case it isn’t obvious why your firm is better, more effective and more efficient, let me address that.
Your firm is going to be better because you will find ways to improve your processes as you use them. Everyone will be using those improved processes. Even the junior people will be producing the looked for results.
Your firm is going to be more effective because having processes in place act as road signs to keep everyone from exploring unproductive avenues and dead ends.
Your firm is going to be more efficient because doing these processes in the tried and true way saves time and eliminates re-working the results when they are eventually recognized as sub-standard.
Besides having a better, more effective and more efficient firm you will also have a more valuable firm because your results are repeatable and not due to just your presence. You will have something of value that will attract people willing to pay you for what you have built.
In the past I have referred to processes as Unique Methods. It is the same concept, and you can find those articles batched up for you here.