how to document business process

Processes, yes you need them documented!

In my previous article you can discover Four Reasons Every Small Business Needs Process Documentation. Whether you operate a small business without employees or with just a few, writing down your most necessary procedures will prove to be beneficial. When you have a documented, formal process, it’s easier to maintain standards, consistency, goals and as a result should produce productive outcomes. Here are five ways to create productive processes for your small business:

1. Start with the big picture, then break it down. 

The best way to document a business process is first to show how it fits into the company’s overall activity and then explain the steps. For instance, on a single page describe the process overview. Next, develop a chart depicting its key steps. Finally, document the tasks required of each level, supporting each function with specific, to-the-point details.

Note: Be sure to separate your process documentation into layers as needed. More than likely, anyone seeking to learn the process can quickly see what needs to be accomplished in any part of the process.

2. Provide background and explanations 

Documentation should explain why the process is necessary and what each step requires. In short, identify the inefficiency that existed before you had the documented process.

3. Build checklists 

You should include short, simple lists in your process documentation. This prompts you and others to complete required stages in the correct order.

Note: If a checklist needs more than two dozen items, break it into two or more shorter lists.

4. Replace words with images 

Engaging graphics are often more readily recognized and understood better than written instructions. Photos and infographics that illustrate how to perform each step are often helpful.

5. Receive feedback 

Business owners often believe they know their business’s processes the best. Get feedback from other business owners who consistently implement and execute processes often share what they have learned, time-saving shortcuts, and differing performance standards that apply to separate parts of the process. Ask fellow business owners/ entrepreneurs for feedback on early drafts of your process documentation.

Be sure to grab your copy of my free guide for the top five processes you need to document immediately. Grab your copy here!

Need help documenting your processes? Click here to schedule a 45 minute Business Breakthrough Session to discuss one area of your business operations that is a roadblock to your growth and identify a few ways you can streamline that process and get back to growing your business.


  • Lisa Anderson, CPA Reply

    Great article Shannon!! I especially love the tip about replacing words with pictures. Another thing I recommend when documenting processes is to speak the process into a voice recorder while you are working the process. Transcribe the recording and then edit for SOP.

    • Shannon Baker Reply

      Thank you for reading Lisa and glad to hear the tips are useful! Recording the processes for transcribing is definitely a great way to help you document the process! Thanks for sharing that!

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