Resources > What is Process Documentation | The Easy Guide with Templates

What is Process Documentation | The Easy Guide with Templates

Updated on: 11 December 2022 | 12 min read
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As your business grows, so does its complexity. There are more steps, more people, and more things involved that may not always be arranged in the most efficient way.

Rethinking how your business works may sound daunting, but it’s bound to get you major efficiencies. Process documentation is the first step towards this!

This easy guide to process documentation will help you do it just right.

Read on to find;

What is Process Documentation?

Process documentation provides a detailed description of how to carry out a business process. The purpose of process documentation is to provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of how a process works, so that it can be easily replicated, improved, or modified as needed. Process documentation typically includes information such as the inputs and outputs of the process, the roles and responsibilities of the people involved, the tools and resources required, and the timelines and milestones associated with each step.

It includes all types of documents that support a process, like

  • Policies
  • Checklists
  • Tutorials
  • Forms
  • Screenshots
  • Links to other applications
  • Process Maps

It is used as a guide to help employees at all levels, including decision makers and stakeholders, quickly understand company processes.

Why Do It? : The Importance of Process Documentation

Documenting a process will help you achieve 5 key things:

  1. Helps improve processes. Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies by documenting the exact processes. You’ll quickly see what processes that you need to improve or get rid of.

  2. Helps train employees. You can use process documents to help new employees understand their job roles and familiarize themselves with the processes they’ll be involved in.  Even experienced employees can still refer to these documents whenever they want to make sure that they are executing the process right.

  3. Helps preserve company knowledge. Keep a record of processes known only to a few people specialized in doing them. That way even when they leave, the newcomers can resume the work easily.

  4. Helps mitigate risks and maintain operational consistency.

  5. Detailed process documentation is also a vital part of patents and trade secrets.

Who is Involved in Process Documentation

There are 3 key ownership roles in process documentation; process owner, documentation custodian, and technical writer. In some cases, the same person may play all three roles.

  1. Process Owner: The process owner is responsible for the overall design and management of a particular business process. This includes identifying the goals and objectives of the process, defining the steps and activities required to achieve those objectives, and establishing performance metrics to measure the success of the process. The process owner is also responsible for ensuring that the process is documented accurately and kept up-to-date.

  2. Documentation Custodian: The documentation custodian is responsible for maintaining the documentation associated with a particular business process. This includes ensuring that the documentation is stored in a secure and accessible location, and that it is properly versioned and updated as needed. The documentation custodian may also be responsible for ensuring that the documentation is properly backed up and archived, so that it can be easily recovered in case of data loss or other issues.

  3. Technical Writer: The technical writer is responsible for creating and updating the documentation associated with a particular business process. This includes writing clear and concise descriptions of each step in the process, creating diagrams or other visual aids to help illustrate the process, and ensuring that the documentation is formatted and organized in a way that is easy to understand and use. The technical writer may also be responsible for collaborating with subject matter experts to ensure that the documentation is accurate and comprehensive.

Key Process Documentation Roles

How to Document a Process

Using a step-by-step method to document a process will help you get it done quickly.

Step 1: Identify and Name the Process

Figure out which process you are going to document first. Determine its purpose (why and how the process will benefit the organization) and provide a brief description of the process.

Step 2: Define the Process Scope

Provide a brief description of what is included in the process and what is out of the process scope, or what is not included in it.

Step 3: Explain the Process Boundaries

Where does the process begin and end? What causes it to start? And how do you know when it’s done? Get these boundaries well defined.

Step 4: Identify the Process Outputs

Establish what will be produced by the process or what result the process will achieve once it is completed.

Step 5: Identify the Process Inputs

List down what resources are necessary to carry out each of the process steps.

Step 6: Brainstorm the Process Steps

Gather all information on process steps from start to finish.  Either start with what triggers the process or start at the end of the process and track back the steps to the starting point.

The brainstorming session should involve those who are directly responsible for the process tasks or someone with extensive knowledge of it, as they can provide precise data.

Step 7: Organize the Steps Sequentially

Take the list of steps you’ve come up with and put them in a sequential order to create a process flow.

Keep the number of steps to a minimum and if a step includes more than one task, list them under the main step.

Step 8: Describe who is Involved

Decide each individual who will be responsible for the process tasks. Define their roles. Keep in mind to mention their job title rather than their name.

Also be considerate about those who would be referencing the document. Write it in a way that any employee with a reasonable knowledge can read and understand it.

Step 9: Visualize the Process

This is to improve clarity and readability of your documentation. Using a process flowchart , neatly visualize the process steps you’ve identified earlier.

Step 10: Note down Exceptions to the Normal Process Flow

A business process may not always follow the same flow due to various reasons. Mention these exceptions and what steps will be taken to address them.

Step 11: Add Control Points and Measurements

Identify where risks could occur in the process and add control points to help the process owner when monitoring the process.

Establish measurements to determine the effectiveness of the process and to help improve it.

Step 12: Review and Test the Process

Gather everyone involved and review the process flowchart you’ve mapped. Are there any missing steps? Is everything in order? Once done, test the process and see if you’ve missed anything.

Visualize, analyze, and document your organizational processes. Share and collaborate with your team on identifying process bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

Create a Process Map

Benefits of process documentation for organizations and Teams

Process documentation can be highly beneficial for organizations and teams in several ways:

  • Standardization: Process documentation helps to standardize procedures and workflows, ensuring that everyone in the organization follows the same set of guidelines. This can help to reduce errors and inconsistencies, leading to higher quality outcomes.

  • Efficiency: By documenting processes, teams can identify areas for improvement and streamline workflows. This can help to reduce time and resource wastage, and improve productivity.

  • Training: Process documentation can be used as a training tool for new employees. By providing a documented process, organizations can ensure that new hires are properly onboarded and trained, reducing the time it takes for them to become fully productive.

  • Communication: Process documentation can facilitate communication between team members, making it easier for everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities. This can help to reduce miscommunications and misunderstandings, improving collaboration and teamwork.

  • Compliance: Process documentation can help organizations to ensure compliance with regulations and industry standards. By documenting processes, organizations can demonstrate that they have effective systems in place to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

  • Continuous improvement: Process documentation can be used as a basis for continuous improvement, helping teams to identify areas for optimization and innovation. By reviewing documented processes regularly, teams can make iterative improvements, leading to better outcomes over time.

Tips and Tricks: Process Documentation Best Practices

  • Keep the document simple and concise. While it should be technically accurate, it should be easy to follow.
  • Have a proper plan in place to update the documents when/if the process would change. Make sure to review them at least once a year.
  • Or assign a process owner who can do regular reviews and notify others of the changes.
  • Keep separate documentation for every different process to avoid confusion.
  • When documenting processes for the first time, avoid covering the entire organization at once. Start from a single process within a department or a major process common to the entire organization.
  • Store the documents in a location that is easy to be accessed by anyone who is looking for it.
  • Make sure that it is easy to be revised when needed and the new version can easily be distributed to everyone involved.
  • Have documents stored online in a central location via a process documentation tool. This will automatically help with the above mentioned two best practices.
  • Use appropriate examples, graphics, color coding, screenshots, multiple platforms etc. as necessary.
  • Make sure the process documentation complies with the existing standards of your organization.
  • If you are highlighting the process flow in a verbal format, always balance it with graphics – a process flowchart.
  • Add swimlanes to your business process flowcharts to distinguish different process roles, timelines etc.
  • Create a process documentation guide, which anyone can refer to as a standard template for documenting a process.
  • Make use of existing documentary material, records, interviews, case studies, field-diaries of project staff and the knowledge of employees to gather information for process documentation.

What’s In It for You: Benefits of Process Documentation

  • Help get everyone on the same page by providing a common view of the process steps. A common view is necessary for consistency.
  • Where there is clear process documentation, changes to processes can be made in a timely, straightforward manner.
  • Helps identify ideal conditions for effective collaboration and performance.
  • Helps identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in processes (even in those “well-refined” procedures) that may otherwise go unnoticed.
  • A clearly documented process saves time and prevents errors by removing any confusion and by providing clear instructions.
  • Decreases costs and unnecessary spending of resources.
  • Helps improve the overall quality of processes and quality of the outcome.
  • Helps increase employee productivity as well as satisfaction.
  • Since it is clearly recorded how processes should be carried out, it makes it easier to outsource work.
  • Process documentation also helps easily automate processes when needed.

Easy Starter Process Documentation Templates

Basically, process mapping helps represent the documented information like process steps, process roles, inputs and outputs in a streamlined picture.

Following are process flowchart templates/ process mapping templates that you can quickly edit online with information of your organizational processes. Click the template to open it in the Creately editor.

Template 1

Template 2

Template 3

Template 4

Feedback on the Easy Guide to Process Documentation

This process documentation guide covers everything you need to know to document a process properly. Follow the process documentation steps we have discussed above, and make use of the process flowchart templates to ensure a quality documentation process.

In our Community, you can find more process flowchart templates.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

Get started here

FAQs About Process Documentation

How to choose the right process documentation template?

Choosing the right process documentation template is important to ensure that the documentation is easy to read, understand, and use. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a process documentation template:

  • Consider the purpose of the documentation and the type of process being documented. Is it a simple process with just a few steps, or a complex process with many decision points and variables?.

  • Consider the format of the template. Does it include visual aids, such as diagrams or flowcharts, to help illustrate the process? Is it formatted in a way that is easy to read and understand?

  • Consider whether the template can be easily customized to meet the specific needs of the process being documented. Does it allow for the addition of specific information or steps that may be unique to the process?

What are the common mistakes a team or organization makes when documenting processes
  • Lack of clarity: The process documentation should be clear and concise. However, sometimes the language used can be confusing and unclear, which can lead to errors and misinterpretations.

  • Overcomplicating the process: Sometimes teams or organizations try to document every step of the process, including unnecessary steps, which can lead to confusion and make the process unnecessarily complicated.

  • Failure to update the documentation: Processes evolve over time, and the documentation should reflect these changes. Failure to update the documentation can lead to outdated or incorrect information.

  • Poor organization: The documentation should be well-organized and easy to navigate. If the document is disorganized, it can be difficult to find the information needed, which can lead to errors and inefficiencies.

  • Lack of stakeholder involvement: Process documentation should involve input from all stakeholders. Failure to involve stakeholders can lead to incomplete or inaccurate documentation.

  • Not providing enough context: Process documentation should provide context and background information to help users understand why the process is necessary and how it fits into the larger organization.

  • Failure to communicate the documentation: The documentation should be communicated effectively to all stakeholders. Failure to communicate the documentation can lead to misunderstandings and inefficiencies.


Amanda Athuraliya
Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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