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How to document 300 processes in your business without losing your mind

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FlowShare Article Cover Image with Copy "How to Maximize Team Productivity with Team User Manuals"

Your company has just implemented a new ERP software. Finally, all business processes are centralized, making not just the collaboration between departments more efficient. Operations can flow more smoothly, transparency is increased, and work procedures are standardized—that is, once all colleagues are on board the new system. The team has received some training but it turns out, there are not just a handful of processes here and there, but 100s of them across all departments with which employees need to be familiarised. A true Hercules task for many companies. In this article, we will show you how to master it.

Implementing an ERP system: New chances, old challenges

Your new ERP software is supposed to make everyone’s life in the company easier but at this stage its implementation is probably causing you a headache. A good idea for managing a big chunk of work is to divide it. Unless this results in an incoherent mess, which unfortunately only happens too easily with documentation.  Now, if you do not have a system for capturing those processes easily and train all your employees in a consistent and ongoing manner, your situation most likely looks like this: 

  • Everyone simply documents as they think is best. This will result in a mess of manuals that are all vastly different in appearance, layout, size, and color scheme and which are difficult to navigate by users.  
  • The time spent on creating manuals can be a huge drain during the work day. Employees have to take valuable hours out of their days and squeeze this task in after they clock off, often with little reward for all that extra effort.
  • In an attempt to avoid extra working hours, only the most crucial processes are documented and documentation content is kept to a minimum. Consequently, when an issue arises down the line,  we have no idea how to fix it because of insufficient or incomplete written instructions on hand.

In short, without a systematic and efficient approach, documentation of the ERP will be a dreadful task. And without complete and comprehensible instructions, processes cannot be properly conveyed, resulting in a delayed and ineffective implementation of the ERP system.

What successful implementation should look like

Now, imagine you could document hundreds of ERP processes with minimal additional effort. Imagine all team members contributing to the task by creating standardized documentation, capturing every necessary step of a process without gaps, so people find it easy and pleasing to follow the instructions. 

Envision a situation in which employees know exactly what to capture and how to capture it, with no time being spent training team members on how to do documentation. In this scenario, documentation occurs along the workflow, while work is done. This means that no more sloppy instructions are created in passing, which no user can really understand or apply. Neither do colleagues have to spend extra hours after work creating documentation in addition to their day-to-day work. 

Thanks to comprehensive documentation, anyone will be able to successfully complete processes and work within the new ERP system in no time. Sounds too good to be true? We have compiled a four step framework to help you get your documentation off the ground. 

Successfully implementing (ERP) software in practice: Four steps to consider

  1. Use expert knowledge to identify and outline processes that need to be documented

Generally, dividing the task of documenting among employees is not a bad idea. However, in order to avoid the result becoming that incoherent mess, you need to have a checklist or list of all the processes that require documentation, before you start documenting them. This will be your roadmap to guide you through the documentation process.

You might not even have to compile the list yourself! If you have an implementation partner or a trainer involved in the ERP rollout, you can commission them with the task of writing down all the required processes. 

After all, the trainer is the ERP software expert and will have the greatest insights into the system. Alternatively, if your company does not have a trainer available for this task, at least consult an expert in the software before taking on the task yourself.

  1. Motivate the team by simplifying the documentation process

If you want to ensure that the team is motivated for the task of documenting your long list of processes, it should be as easy and fast as possible and not result in employees having to work overtime. There are different ways on how you can achieve this: 

  • Use FlowShare: If screenshots are your preferred means of documentation but you want to avoid the risk of ending up with a mess of manuals, FlowShare is your best option. Our documentation software automatically captures processes in the background while people complete them, creating detailed step-by-step instructions. You get the simplicity and detail of a video but in the form of a document. While it accelerates the documentation up to 90 %, there are also other ways on how you can capture your processes. 
  • Have someone document the training: A straightforward approach would be to document the processes immediately during the ERP training. This could mean that either key users document processes as they learn them from the trainer or that the team documents as the knowledge is passed on to them by key users. Either way, in this scenario the task of documenting would be part of the training, rather than a follow-up task that has to be reconciled with day-to-day tasks at work. They can take quick notes or use a documentation tool like FlowShare. 
  • Take screenshots of every step: The documentation itself can be in the simplest format, that is showing screenshots of each step of the process. However, the manual editing required for turning screenshots into descriptive documentation is usually very work-intensive. Additionally, to ensure a uniform look of the documentation, you need to implement strict design guidelines which every team member needs to adhere to when documenting. Alternatively, just a small number of employees can be responsible for documentation only without having to worry about additional tasks.
  • Take a video of the processes: Screencapturing is another easy way of documenting processes. Employees can simply record their screen while completing processes and edit the video in hindsight. There are little deviations in style when it comes to filming your screen, and it is ensured that every step is captured. However, videos are not that easy to edit and update afterwards. If a process is captured wrongly or needs to be renewed due to an update, you cannot simply exchange a screenshot but need to record the entire process for the video.
  1. Ensure consistency and quality in documentation design 

Whatever format you choose for documenting, when the time has come to “unleash” colleagues to document, do not leave any design matters up to them. Rather than using vague instructions as to how the manual should look like, implement a strict design manual or provide a template for your documentations. 

If the documentation is done manually, this may include regulations of fonts, size, and colour of the text, as well as size of screenshots. 

How the title page looks, how your headlines look, how the table of contents is structured, which markups and colors you use to highlight elements and so on. 

This way you ensure that your instructions are standardized, easy to follow, and look professional, too.

💡With FlowShare, you have a range of predefined templates to choose from, into which you can export each instruction. And if you prefer your own powerpoint or word templates, you can upload those, too.
  1. Beware of ERP system updates

Lastly, once the first wave of processes is documented, you need to ensure to keep them updated. After all, you do not want your team to end up working through outdated processes. 

If you have numerous updates coming up on a regular basis, we would advise against documenting your processes as videos. If you use documentation software or have regular pdf, or Word documents for your documentation, changing and updating a few steps in a process should be easy. 

Ensure up-to-date documentation through regular reviews. This is where the list of processes you compiled in step 1 comes in handy. It gives you an overview of processes which are affected by the update and you can also add new processes to the list. 

Schedule weekly or monthly meetings with all stakeholders involved. During recurring meetings, updates to processes should be identified and the documentation revised straight away. 

Alternatively, any update to the ERP system in general can be used as an occasion to quickly review and update your documentation. Make sure to have an overview over which processes are affected through a new update.

How Achenbach Buschhütten used FlowShare for a successful ERP migration

Achenbach Buschhütten started their ERP migration in the beginning of last year, facing the challenge of how to document their processes in such a way that any remaining questions about the system could effectively be eliminated. Like in many other companies, the migration process ran parallel to the daily business making the task of documenting an additional burden for the colleagues. People were overloaded with work and documenting an entire ERP migration constituted a seemingly impossible task. 

Looking to simplify the process, the company decided to implement FlowShare. Daniel Fritzsche, ERP Business Processes Manager, explained that FlowShare was crucial in getting team members to document the ERP migration: “If we hadn’t had FlowShare, we probably would have managed the migration process but surely no one would have documented anything.” Moreover, Mr Fritzsche emphasized that the migration process was significantly sped up by opting for a documentation software, rather than documenting manually. Because FlowShare allows users to smoothly document along the workflow, colleagues can focus on completing their tasks rather than being distracted by creating test documentation and training manuals: “Without FlowShare, the ERP migration and documentation would have probably taken at least half a year longer to complete.”

Documentation: Good things should not take time

Documenting hundreds of processes in your ERP software is a daunting task, yet it is crucial for ensuring a smooth ERP migration and onboarding of colleagues. As you see, it is much easier and faster if the work is divided. The challenge here is to ensure that documentation is done quickly without a bigger additional burden, and that the result is detailed and standardized.

If you are looking for a way to guarantee this, we recommend a documentation tool like FlowShare. Click here to download FlowShare and capture an unlimited number of processes for free for 7 days!

FlowShare by miraminds has a 5,00 of 5 star rating 18 reviews on Google | FlowShare Software & Process Documentation Tool