Documenting process is a critical task for any company

Harry E. Figgie Jr. spent many hours instilling into his employees the value of a robust process, a systematic approach to making an organization’s workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.

It did not matter what subject we were discussing, he always wanted to understand the process we used to reach a solution and he wanted us to make sure the process was documented so it could be repeated.

Outcome is always important in any process, but how you get to the outcome can make all the difference. Any situation that involves two or more people interacting with one another, or having a relationship with one another as they try to complete a task or an objective is a process.

Policies and procedures provide a guide for meeting organizational objectives and describe the steps that employees are to take when creating a product or delivering a service. This will ensure consistency.

Documenting process is a critical task for any company. While it is a daunting task at first, once it is done, it is easy to maintain and update and can then be used as a valuable training tool for new employees.

The job of senior managers is to manage processes and to ensure that these processes are documented, learned, followed by their teams and changed, as needed.  Senior managers are constantly putting into place or modifying processes, systems and/or methods that will get colleagues to behave in ways that fit with organizational beliefs.

It is crucial to update processes so that the most current procedures are documented and followed. Senior managers spend a great deal of time evaluating systems like compensation, budgeting/forecasting, product development, performance reviews and many other tasks. They rely on the processes for these systems to produce high-quality results.

Decision-making, strategic thinking and innovative thinking define a company’s culture. Culture is a process result. The processes provide a common language to deal with business tasks and details. If you wish to foster strategic thinking, you must have a process which facilitates that thinking.

Senior managers need to make processes a well-established and structured pattern of behavior that is fundamental to the culture.

Many times we find well-written processes for manufacturing, capital expenditures, compensation and all things financial. Often, the unwritten processes are just as important, but they are lodged in a colleague’s brain.

The idea is to turn this intangible process into a written set of instructions. This is especially important today as we experience so many of the baby boomer generation retiring with loads of valuable information that could potentially be lost to the organization.

Please don’t underestimate the task of implementing high-quality processes. Turf wars, anxiety, anger and the guilt of “why didn’t I think of that” are common issues managers will face. Stick with it. You will find it very worthwhile.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman and Rick Solon is president and CEO at Clark-Reliance