Create Winning Process Docs: Make Them Easy to Find
In this Series…
I’m covering the 25 best ways to start documenting your systems and processes in a way that your team will love so your business can grow and scale.
Step 9: Make Your Process Docs Easy to Find
There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when saving your process docs.
One of the biggest issues I see is when companies try to organize their knowledge in folder and folder-like systems.
In this article, we’ll compare the difference between how folder systems and library systems work.
Folder System vs. Libraries
Folder Systems 👎
A folder system limits you to storing one asset in one folder. When you want to view or edit the asset, you must try to find the file in the specific folder.
For example, you might have a structure like this:
At first glance, this makes sense. There’s a Marketing Team, and that team has Onboarding materials. So, storing the Onboarding materials in a sub-folder of the Marketing team could make sense.
But what happens when you have onboarding materials that could be used for other teams?
- Do you have another “general onboarding” folder besides the team-specific one? (no)
- Do you store duplicates of the onboarding materials across multiple team onboarding folders? (please, for the love of all humanity, no)
- Do you require other teams to go into the Marketing->Onboarding folder to get access to the materials because they were the first to make them? (definitely not)
This is where we hit the limitations of a folder system.
And this is a simple example.
Imagine the complexity and confusion when there are sub-folders in sub-folders in sub-folders.
A library system allows you to store one asset in one or more libraries. When you want to view or edit the process doc, you can find that asset in any library it’s connected to. When edits are made, everything is immediately updated across all libraries.
Libraries simplify everything.
In the above example, we have two onboarding assets. Onboarding Asset 1 could be a great asset for both the Sales and Marketing Onboarding process. Onboarding Asset 2 is great for just the Sales Onboarding process.
This is no issue with libraries: Onboarding Asset 1 is simply connected to two libraries; the job’s complete.
When Asset 1 is updated, both the Marketing Onboarding and the Sales Onboarding libraries are immediately updated.
As they say… I like my organization like I like my docs: Simple and efficient. (No? I’m the only one that says that?)
Issues when Process Docs Cannot Be Found
Why does all this matter?
To ensure the stability and manageability of your company’s knowledge, you must keep a source of truth for your process docs.
Here are the typical actions that occur when process docs cannot be found (none of these are good things):
- Process docs are ignored, and someone is interrupted with a question that already has a documented answer.
- New process docs are made, and now you have two versions for the same process.
- Assumptions and guesses are made, with no questions asked or no references to existing documentation.
- Use libraries instead of folders.
- Never have duplicated assets.
- Keep your organizational structure simple.