Define the Process – Overcoming hurdles to documentation

There are quite a few hurdles in getting your team to document processes. Anything you can do to remove these obstacles will help ensure that documents are created and updated regularly. At the start, just getting people to write down the details of a process is a win. At some point, things become unwieldy. As your document library grows, what you want to avoid is people using it less because it has become cumbersome to manage.

There are knowledge base software products on the market, but my problem with them is that they are inflexible and time-consuming to set up. The reason why a directory of word files works is that you can just start. You don’t need to create a huge document structure, you don’t have to install anything, learn anything, or set anything up.

One solution that I have found that leads to better adoption and use over time is workspace collaboration tools. These systems are very flexible and easy to use. They provide a significant benefit over individual files but also aren’t difficult to set up. One tool we have grown to love is Notion. Notion helps you overcome the following aspects that hinder teams from documenting:

In Notion, you can create a home page that links to your most-used resources. On this home page, we include links to policies, our employee directory, and other resources. We also link to our database of documents. This makes accessing or creating documents just a single click away. With only 5 minutes of training, I can have a new team member up to speed on how to use the system.

When you have your documents in a database, you can very easily reorganize the records. You can add columns for more information, you can add tags, you can sort. There is very little cost in re-organizing how you display the data. Documents can also be much smaller and focused which saves time both managing content but also accessing content.

If I’m looking for a document in Notion, I immediately just click the shortcut key for search and I start typing. I’m presented with a list of matches and I can quickly click on the right one. Within one click I’m reading the document. As your documentation grows, you can continue to tag different articles to make them easier to find via searching.

As I’ve mentioned previously, process documentation has to be a bottom-up approach that is owned by every individual in your organization. Many people need to contribute to the conversation. Notion has commenting functionality so that people can ask questions about documents. This provides the ability for your institutional knowledge to grow real-time in an asynchronous manner without having to set up meetings for people to be able to provide input.

As of today, we have over 400 documents in Notion. We didn’t start there. In fact, I’m positive that without a workplace collaboration tool like Notion, we wouldn’t have 50 documents. The software has given our team the superpower of documenting regularly. It has given us the ability to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by training our team quickly and giving them knowledge at their fingertips to answer questions for our customers.

As you start your documentation journey, I’m less concerned with the specific software you use, and more concerned with you just doing it. As your library grows, however, you do need to be aware of the hurdles your team is encountering in creating documentation. If you start just typing up Word files and at some point, you start to see a diminishing return on usage, you might think about using a workplace collaboration tool like Notion. Or maybe just start by using one! Either way, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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