Documentation Tools Improve Staff Productivity and Instill Confidence

by Nancy E. Weiss, President/CEO of Catalyst Consulting Group, LLC

 

Your organization’s intellectual assets are at risk when staff members carry valuable business knowledge in their heads.  With Baby Boomers retiring in record numbers, your valuable information might retire with them. To protect yourself from this liability, you need to safeguard institutional knowledge by incorporating documentation into your workplace routine.

 

Well-run organizations carefully document and organize their institutional knowledge in ways that allow staff to do their jobs in a timely and effective manner, or store it for when key information is needed. These organizations consistently employ and improve documentation methods to protect their business knowledge assets. Below is a list of  information that is wise to document:

  • Terms and definitions exclusive to your organization
  • Specialized knowledge residing in a person’s mind
  • Policies and procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Work processes
  • Back up or emergency plans
  • Rules and regulations
  • Lessons learned after projects and implementation steps
  • Action plans and tasks

 

Documentation should be a part of daily operations so that vital information is recorded long before key staff resign and take their knowledge with them or staff memories start to fade after the successful completion of a project.

 

Catalyst Consulting Group, LLC has experience helping organizations improve their documentation methods. For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Board of Pensions hired us to develop online and print-ready documentation of business policies and software procedures as a way to provide self-guided training documentation for their staff. We can help you develop the following tools in easy to update formats:

  • Job aids. Used periodically to help users track  their progress or complete tasks, e.g.,  a checklist of business procedures.
  • Reference materials. Used periodically as  reminders, e.g., policies and procedures manuals or online help.
  • User manuals. Contain step-by-step procedures. Typically, first time or novice users rely on these types of manuals to perform infrequently completed procedures.
  • Workflows.  Created for processes that require strict controls.  Workflows may depict all parts of a task flow process including responsibilities of each member of a workgroup including their required inputs and outputs.

The first step to improving documentation methods is to create a documentation plan that defines information needs and links them to your company’s strategic plan and business goals.  Learn more about the phases of a successful documentation project and their related tasks at the Center for Information Development Management, which is run by JoAnn T.  Hackos, an international expert in information design.

 

To learn more about how training your staff to document vital information can improve your organization’s performance, contact the experts at Catalyst Consulting Group.

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