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Business process documentation is the process of creating a written record of the steps associated with a specific business process or procedure. Such documentation helps to standardize procedures and establish best practices. Tips for creating clear, effective process documents include using easily understandable language, having multiple parties review the documentation and writing both detailed documents and simplified cheat sheets.
Many companies create business process documentation for training purposes. This means that many individuals who may have very different comprehension levels are likely to read the documents. In order to ensure maximum effectiveness, the process documents should be readily understandable by anyone likely to use them.
Experts often recommend writing such documents using language equivalent to a ninth-grade reading level. Writers should also avoid using technical or industry jargon. When acronyms or industry terms must be used, they should first be clearly defined. It is also wise to include a list of definitions when creating business process documentation.
While business process documentation is often completed by an individual skilled at developing such documents, it is important to have others review the documents before they are put into common use. If the person who writes the documentation is not an expert at the process being documented, such an expert should perform a review in order to ensure the content is technically correct. The documents should also be reviewed by at least one individual who is completely unfamiliar with the process so that any unclear instructions or missing steps can be identified.
Detailed documents are an essential part of business process documentation. The documents explain all steps involved in a process and may also provide additional information, such as software program requirements, legal restrictions and contact information for various steps. While the documents are critical to a complete explanation of the process, they may be too long or bulky to be usable on a daily basis.
A solution to this problem is to create a cheat sheet that addresses only the most critical steps and serves as a reminder once the entire process documentation has been read. These cheat sheets should provide an easy way to find basic information on each step. It may be wise to provide the page or chapter number where the information can be found in the full documentation so the reader has a reference if he needs additional details. Such sheets are often presented as flow charts or outlines.