It is common for a company to develop written procedures to enable its employees to properly perform a given task or to analyze a process with a view to improving it. If you are tasked with writing a procedure or if you decide to do one yourself, be sure to bring in people who have the experience and knowledge to work with the entire process you will be reviewing. In particular, you will use two flowcharts, but feel free to use a simple diagram or text if you think it is more appropriate for your work. In this case, you will also need to review some generalities in order to familiarize yourself with the development of business procedures.
Part 1 of 4: Decide on How to Develop a Procedure
Step 1. Focus on one process at a time
If possible, do not try to describe all of the work in one flowchart, as it is easier to follow a series of small procedures that present different tasks.
If the process is complex, such as building a product from concept to release, use simple words to identify each step and consider developing additional procedures to provide the necessary details
Step 2. Break the process down into phases
Phases are the main tasks that are performed during the process. If you are not familiar with the process you are working on, have talks with the project manager or other experts, to fully understand the objectives to be achieved.
Generally speaking, if an action includes more than one verb or the word “and”, you can break it down into two actions. For example, the task “place bun and meat pie on grill” should be broken down into “place bun on grill” and “place meat pie on grill”
Step 3. Examine the process
Determine if it is simple enough to be text-only. If it is repetitive and has only one or two decisions or modifications, you can describe it using a list. Use a document in digital form, such as a Microsoft Word file or a sheet of grid paper.
Step 4. Consider building a flowchart
This is a relatively simple way to visualize a process. An example is given below. There are also methods for constructing complex flowcharts, but in most cases resorting to such flowcharts is not necessary. Only take into account the instructions for complex flowcharts if your process has more than 10 phases "and" more than 3 parties.
Step 5. Be as concise as possible
The ideal is to present your process on one page. For complicated processes, try not to exceed 5 pages and be aware that crafting a longer document is only appropriate for a complex and special process. In this case, your document should only be used by those responsible for carrying out the process.
- For example, if the document is used by doctors to diagnose cancer, you will probably mention any tests that will need to be performed. However, if you present the document regarding the same process to executives, you will be able to create a shorter document without going into details, such as how to dispose of a given device.
- Do not use adjectives to qualify tasks. Job titles should be concise and clear. For example, write: "send the invoice to the customer," and not "send to the customer who ordered the product, a complete invoice of all the services rendered".
Step 6. Include illustrations to make the process easier to understand
Some people understand a sketch more easily than a text. This is especially valid for executives, administrators or others who do not have sufficient experience of the process you are working on. You can use diagrams, photos, screenshots, as long as these illustrations are simple and clear.
- Place pictures and diagrams next to text only to make it easier to understand a term mentioned in the document. For example, if the process requires identifying the differences between two machines, help the reader by including clear photos or diagrams of those machines.
- Avoid incorporating artistic images or other images that have no relation to the text.
Step 7. Designate people by title, not by name
People can change, but a document can remain valid for a long time. Do not write: "send meeting minutes to Carol", but "send meeting minutes to the chair". If you think a name is necessary for the reader to know who to contact, enter the name and position of the person in question.
Step 8. Clarify the links between the different processes
For example, you can end a document intended to "organize the newsletter" with the following statement: "forward this document to the revision department". Review the handout titled: "Review the Newsletter". This document can begin with the following note: "the previous document is titled: organize the newsletter" and end with the following note: "send this document to the publication service". Refer to the document titled “Publishing the Newsletter”.
Step 9. Write documents that are easy to read and review
Make copies so that interested parties can read or review your document. Have a digital copy in an editable format, so you can change your document easily when needed.
- Note that generally a PDF document is not editable. If you created your sketches using software, keep in mind that sometimes you will only be able to save editable files in one format. So if other people want to review these files, they will have to download or purchase the same software that you used.
- For word processing, choose a common format, such as.doc,.docx,.txt, or.rtf. If you think your document will undergo frequent revisions, you can use an online hosting service like Google Docs to give people easy access to the most recent version.
Step 10. Carefully choose a title for your document
Write on the document the creation date and the revision date in an appropriate place, for example at the top of the page. If more than one person can edit the document, consider putting your name or initials next to the date of the last review. Finally, enter a title and file name to clearly indicate the process you just documented.
Part 2 of 4: building a flowchart
Step 1. Create a flowchart to easily explain simple tasks
A flowchart is very easy to read and therefore constitutes a very practical visual means of presenting basic information. It can be used to orient new employees to perform simple jobs during vocational training or to help an employee replace an absent colleague.
Step 2. Organize the flowchart
Usually you will have to go left to right and top to bottom of the page. Draw a box for each action in the process, then connect the boxes with arrows to show the order in which the actions are performed. Start at the top left corner of the page, as you usually do when writing. The presentation of actions in this form allows the reader to immediately read the flowchart.
- Use the writing direction of the language in which you are working, if it is different from that of French. For example, a flowchart written in Arabic will be read from right to left.
- For clarity, indicate the direction using arrows. Don't just connect the boxes with lines that aren't oriented.
Step 3. Start with a circle marked “start”
You don't need this circle if your flowchart is short enough to fit on a single row or column. For a more complex flowchart, the beginning circle is useful.
Step 4. Draw a rectangle
Then write the title of the first phase inside. Draw an arrow to join the starting circle to this first rectangle. For example, “take the customer's order”.
Step 5. Draw an arrow to the next action or question
This arrow points to the new box that contains the second task. If there is a decision to be made or an answer to be given before starting the second task, first write the question in a diamond.
If possible, use a different color than the boxes for the diamond
Step 6. Pass diamonds to other boxes based on the answers to the questions
For example, suppose the box corresponding to the action "take customer's order" is connected to the diamond that contains the question "has the water been ordered?" »Draw two arrows from the diamond. Above one of the arrows, write “yes” or “o” and lead it to a box with the inscription “deliver water to customer”. Above the second arrow, write "no" or "n" and link it to a box which contains the inscription "forward the order to the cook".
Part 3 of 4: building a complex flowchart
Step 1. Know how to use this kind of flowchart
Typically, it is used to document processes that are performed by multiple people or multiple departments. You can choose this formula if you are developing a complicated procedure that involves several people, several teams or several departments. In the flowchart described in this section, the activities are placed in lanes and we then speak of "swimlanes" or a "Rummler-Brache" diagram. This type of flowchart makes it easier to identify those responsible for the different tasks and helps to identify the parts of the process that can be improved.
A flowchart should show the process as it happens in reality and not how this process should be performed
Step 2. Consider using software
The flowchart will be clearer and easier to read if you create it using appropriate software. Having a document in electronic form makes it easier to make changes when needed. Do an online search with the following keywords: "software, cartography, process" in order to download or buy software that will allow you to create such flowcharts.
Step 3. List each participant at the top of a column on the left side of the page
Each line can correspond to a department, a team or the title of a workstation. Each participant is responsible for the actions that are on the horizontal line assigned to him. This is often referred to as the participant's swim lane.
- The corridors can be colored or not. They must always be separated by bold lines to make the flowchart easier to read by people with color blindness.
- Try to place the interacting groups one after the other, but you don't have to.
Step 4. Start with the first phase
Start the process by placing the first phase in a box on the left side of the page, just to the right of the participant who is responsible for this phase. For example, if the research division begins the process by conceiving the idea for a product, draw a box to the right of the word “research” and write within the phrase: create a product idea.
Step 5. Continue as for a normal flowchart
However, progress with the phases to the right on the correct line. For example, if the research passes the product idea to the marketer for testing, draw an arrow in the " create a product idea To a new box placed on the line of the marketing department, to the right of the previous box. Name this new box " testing ».
Sometimes an action can be repeated, for example the product can undergo additional tests. If the process goes back to the previous stage, go back to the original box called “trials”, by drawing a new arrow. If the process is really different, for example if it is more advanced trials that lead to other actions, draw a new box and give it a different name, such as “advanced trials”
Step 6. Familiarize yourself with the use of circles and diamonds
On most flowcharts, you will find rectangles, circles and diamonds in addition to the arrows that connect all of these symbols. You already know the usefulness of the rectangle which corresponds to an action. Use a diamond when there are multiple results. Use a circle when you get a final result. If you want to continue the previous example, draw an arrow from the "trials" box to a diamond that asks the question "is the product approved?" Starting from the diamond, draw an arrow with the inscription "no", then connect it to a circle with the inscription "end of the process". A second arrow marked "yes" may lead to the next task in the process.
- Place the diamond on the line or in the lane of the participant who is responsible for the corresponding decision.
- The circle marked "end of process" must not be associated with any participant, but it must be on a line reserved for them.
- You may find other symbols on flowcharts, but these symbols are infrequently used and are of limited use. You can do some research if you feel they can improve your document.
Step 7. Be consistent
To make the flowchart easier to read, use symbols of the same dimensions and at most two or three different colors. For example, all rectangles can be blue, while all diamonds can be yellow.
Whenever possible, always draw the arrows of the positive (yes) answers from one side of the symbol, for example the right side and the arrows of the negative (no) answers from another side, for example the lower side of the symbol. This is not always possible, so don't waste a lot of time on this issue
Step 8. Continue on a second page if necessary
It is better not to build a very small flowchart to avoid reading difficulties. Feel free to use multiple pages, if necessary. Have clearly marked boxes and arrows to move up the progression inside the flowchart. For example, draw an arrow called TO to the right of the page. On the next page, draw another arrow from the left of the page, also marked TO.
Step 9. Review the flowchart
Follow every possible "path" in the flowchart and verify that that path matches something. To do it right, have someone with a good understanding of the process to check your work for errors and any missing steps. Do at least one check and correct any errors, then you can assume that your document is ready to be presented or sent to the right people. However, do not forget to revise the flowchart if the process undergoes a change, and to send to the persons concerned, an updated version of the document.
Part 4 of 4: Analyze a procedure to improve the corresponding process
Step 1. Identify the steps that would benefit from undergoing quality verification
Whenever the performer of the process changes, check whether there is a need to examine the work in progress to make sure that the next step can be started under good conditions. Did the quality deteriorate after a certain step, for example if that step was performed by an inexperienced performer? Which process has the greatest influence on quality and would require special attention?
If you recommend that the process be quality reviewed, make it clear that your recommendation is to “improve” the process. Be clear about the quality standards used
Step 2. Check for redundancies
If your diagram or document has two duplicate actions, check whether this redundancy is useful or not. Sometimes it is good to repeat a task for better quality control, for example when two departments are inspecting a product at different stages. However, basic tasks, such as proofreading, should not be done more than once in a single process. Suggest the removal of one of the duplicate steps.
Step 3. Look for unnecessary movement between services
Your document may mention frequent transfers of responsibility between Person A and Person B. Try to reduce the number of such transfers. If you can rearrange the procedure, person A could multitask in one step and then transfer the execution to person B.