A properly documented company is scaleable, efficient, and able to learn from mistakes. Just like a restaurant kitchen, you can have great chefs, but without documented recipes and preparation instructions, the customer experience is going to be inconsistent. Procedure & Process Documentation Welcome to Part 5 of our 5 part series, ‘Always Be Ready To Sell Your Business’ that addresses many of the common areas of improvement that, if addressed, can keep your company running in tip top condition. Sometimes it’s hard to turn heads down and address the things that need to be done to ensure that your company is as efficient and scalable as it can be, but you need to challenge yourself to do so. This week, I want to go over how well you define and document the processes and procedures that take place in order for your company to stay alive. Two very important ingredients for success are having the right people in place and having a recipe that can be replicated in a consistent manner. Just like a restaurant kitchen, you can have great chefs, but without documented recipes and preparation instructions, the customer experience is going to be inconsistent. There are times in your business when everything seems to be humming along. Everyone seems to be doing their job and nothing seems to be falling through the cracks, but if someone quits or is unable to perform their job function, panic sets in. This is where thorough documentation pays you back in spades. • Identify recurring responsibilities where two or more team members are involved. Where handoff and hand-back is required. These are the activities that must be documented outside of someone’s desk manual. This is a procedure. Many times, such procedures will require interaction with software platforms or other on-screen interfaces. In this case, take screenshots of the GUI so that the illustrated steps have a visual element to them. For hands on activities, like gift wrapping for eCommerce fulfillment, take pictures of the established methods to ensure consistency. Always include within each section a list of 'Tips' that will help future users learn from past mistakes. • Bring the team together and ask them questions about each responsibility, and outline it together. This gives your team ownership of the process, as dictating it to them can have negative results, especially when it comes to holding them responsible going forward. If you create the procedures and hand them out, they will never be read or used. Trust, me it’s human nature. Make them a part of the creation of it and they will use them and keep them updated. • Put all of the procedures in a single master document. Call it something cool, we call ours the ‘Flight Manual’, but you need to think of your own terminology. Because it is hosted on your cloud, it is accessible to anyone, all the time. They can reference it whenever they are unsure of what they need to do. You can even create little, fun incentives for anyone who identifies a needed edit or update to it so that it stays current. • Whenever a mistake is made or something falls through the cracks, identify what went wrong and revisit the procedure to see if it was documented properly. If it was not there, you can say, “Great, we learned a lesson; we documented it to make sure it never happens again. Let’s move on.” If it was... well, manage your team as you will, but a team member that disregards documented procedures may not have the passion for excellence that you should expect. These tips will help you keep your operations in ship shape, and they will help your company be more nimble and adaptive to change with a stronger foundation to stand on. Your team will be happier as they know what is expected of them, and they understand they will be held accountable. When new members join your team, or a prospective partner or purchaser looks under your hood, they will see a well-oiled machine that you can be proud of. Knowing this creates confidence and makes for many more restful nights. Let us know if you have any questions on any of these tips! We would love to help!