Like many of you, I procrastinate documenting processes, not because I want to procrastinate, but I just did not feel I had time to document those processes. It was a daunting task. It was a HORRIBLE task in my mind! It was one that I did not feel would pay off anytime in the future. I barely had time for lunch, much less time to document anything!
Before I had a team I thought, "Why document processes? It is just me, so who am I documenting them for?"
Then, when I started bringing on team members, I thought, "Why document what I do? They will never do the work at this level. This is work I won't have them do." I never thought they could do the work even if I had a process for it.
Here is an example.
I have a monthly client that I must do a certain thing for at the end of every year. It is a very painful, manual process. Every year I dread this task, not because it is very hard, but because I simply never could remember how I did it the previous year.
I had not documented how to do the task and that is why it is so painful and I dreaded it so much. That's why I procrastinate doing it until the last possible minute. I knew I would have to look back at how I did it the year before and bring it all back into my memory on how I did it. I knew I would stare at a blank screen for a while and think back. That is the painful part. Actually, doing it was not that painful, it was the not remembering that was so PAINFUL!
I finally realized it is painful and manual because I have made it that way.
This year when I did it, I locked myself in my office and decided I would document this task while I did it so next year it would not be so painful. My intention was not that I would delegate the task in the future, but to get the information out of my head. I wanted to see if this would help with the painful part of the process. Not that I could not delegate it, but I wanted to see for myself how this would be helpful to just me.
So, I documented the process last week and then I tested my process this week. It was amazing! It was not near as painful nor did I dread it.
I hear so many times from practitioners that they do not need to document anything because they have no intention of having a team. I understand you may not want to have a team, but I still challenge you to document what you do for your clients.
I also made myself a checklist so I could review my own work. I made sure I did not miss any steps in the process. Guess what, if not for doing this I might have made a mistake I did not catch.
For those of you that are alone in your work, what happens if you must have someone step in for you? This would make it so easy for someone to follow you. What happens if you have an emergency and need to step away from your business? What happens if something happens to you and what happens to your clients? Will your family know what to do? Will your clients know what to do?
I know this is not a subject we like to discuss, but unfortunately, I have had this experience with my own mother. She had a health issue, and she was the only person that could run payroll for one client. There was no one else that could access the ACH file or even knew how. She was processing payroll from her hospital bed. We never think of things like this, but they do happen and when they do, we need to make sure that our clients are taken care of. In this case, yes, she was able to handle it. But what if she was not?
Even though the documentation of processes may seem like a long, difficult, daunting process that you do not feel like you have time for, you do not have time not to start. You just have to start with one. If your clients are similar to each other, pick your hardest client to document, then change it for your easier clients.
Once I started getting my processes out of my head, I did not want to stop. Once I saw the difference that documenting them made, I became a process machine. Even during tax season, I did not “not” have time to document any processes. What I did have time to do was make a list of processes that I needed to document. Every question that I answered, I added to my list. Whether it be in a notebook or documenting all of those processes and questions a priority.
I use my checklists and processes for everything! Getting all information out of my head has been so freeing! When I am getting this information out of my head it feels like emptying a filing cabinet out of my head. We get stuck on the technology, but really the magic happens by just getting it out of our head! It really doesn't matter what you put your documented processes into.
The thing is - you just have to START!
I challenge you to pick one thing to document and test it. The power is in the testing of the processes. What makes sense to you may not make sense to another person.
Just start somewhere!