6 tips for a good process description

Q.wiki on its own leads to a living management system - we frequently encounter this assumption in our consulting projects. In addition to the right software, another factor is crucial to whether employees accept a management system, actively use it, and interact with it: the quality of the content. Without high-quality process descriptions, even the best software is useless. What does a good process description look like? There is no general answer to this question. Over the years, however, we have gathered a lot of experience to help you get your processes into the right shape.


The goal determines the details

The first thing you need to ask yourself is what and who you want to reach with a process description:

  • Is it aimed at non-specialist employees or experts
  • Is it a particularly complicated process or are the individual steps self-explanatory
  • Do you only want to achieve a certification with a centrally managed management system?  Or do you want to create a process-oriented knowledge platform with added value for all employees


All of this determines the right level of detail in a process description, because after all, relevant experiential values should not be lost in self-evident information. Therefore, the general rule is: as many details as necessary, as few details as possible. If a process already operates error-free in reality, few details are sufficient. If many errors occur in a process and queries arise frequently, a more detailed process description makes sense. For us, the focus is always on the premise that the documentation needs to create added value for internal day-to-day work - it should not solely exist as a result of external requirements.


Therefore, we assume that you are aiming for a process-oriented knowledge portal with Q.wiki or a comparable software. Basically, more details are required here than in a pure verification documentation: In addition to the question "What has to be done?", the question "How has it to be done?" also has to be answered. You can do this by documenting the individual work steps as in a recipe and linking them to templates as well as other systems and work instructions. Thanks to the decentralized design, each employee can add important information or new findings as needed and design the documentation in the way that best supports them in their daily work. A rigid documentation with a fixed level of detail is thus transformed into a living knowledge platform that you can flexibly adapt to current requirements. By the way: As a rule of thumb, you can safely neglect the "Why is it necessary to do it?", as it only plays a role once during the initial training of new employees.


Structure processes clearly

How can a detailed process description be designed in a lean and clear manner? A high level of detail and lean documentation are perfectly compatible:


1.   Use bullet points instead of continuous text.

They convey relevant information without complicated sentence structure - this makes it easier to absorb the individual aspects. In addition, bullet points can be changed and added much more quickly than continuous text. And after all, that is one of the basic requirements for a lively management system.


2.    Phrase actively.

Write "train employees" instead of "employee training". This clearly conveys the goal of a process step and thus prevents misunderstandings.


3.    Document regular cases, not special cases

Writing down every little eventuality makes the process description confusing. Concentrate on how a process usually works! Continuously optimizing the regular case and saving one minute each time has a far more positive effect than saving an hour on a special case.


4.    Arrange the process steps in linear order.

Always indicate in chronological order who has to do what and when. Always attach relevant documents directly to the respective process so that no one has to search for them for a long time. The use of tables helps to structure the information: By clearly assigning responsibility, for example, interfaces between different departments become visible.


5.    Limit yourself to 15 process steps.

Our experience shows that more than 15 process steps overwhelm many users - instead, create an additional process. In addition, the individual steps should be clearly separated from each other. There is a simple rule of thumb for this separation: If responsibility changes during the process - for example, from one department to another - or if two successive activities are independent of each other in terms of time, a new process step is due. This ensures secure interfaces without information loss and a clear time frame. Also, transfer particularly long process steps into an additional work instruction, which can then be linked in the process.


6.    Link your process management software to upstream and downstream processes, work instructions, documents and other productive systems. 

In this way, you create an overview of the entire company in your management system and establish a link between parallel processes, sub-processes and process variants. The result is a comprehensive navigation platform in which you can find every piece of information and every document in the right place.


Q.wiki Managementsoftware: Prozessdarstellung als Tabelle oder Flowchart


This is why good process descriptions are important

If you follow all these steps, you will maximize the benefits of your management system for your colleagues' day-to-day work and minimize the maintenance effort at the same time. Both points are crucial to ensure that all employees actively participate in the documentation and increase its benefits even more: If everyone brings a piece of wood to the campfire, then everyone benefits from a great fire. Or in our case, from a process-oriented knowledge portal that grows continuously. Certification becomes an add-on to a living management system and is no longer the sole reason for existence of centrally maintained documentation.


Are you still looking for the right software for your wiki-based management system? Make your processes more efficient and your company more up-to-date - with the interactive management software Q.wiki!


Test Q.wiki for free and without any obligation