Documentation

Business Documents: The Key to Boosting Operational Efficiency

Although business documents are vital, they aren’t easy to create. This is why companies should start automating the process to save on valuable time and costs.

Introduction

Onboarding new employees or contractors is always an uphill battle. From guiding them through the nitty-gritties of your business processes to fielding a gazillion questions, a lot goes into it. And it can get overwhelming. 

Enter business documents. 

By giving your contractors a comprehensive guide to your processes, you can minimize the friction created while onboarding them. No more repetitive questions and midnight calls. They can simply refer to your business document when in doubt. 

The operative word here? “Simple!”

But the benefits don’t end there. Business documents can also help you improve operational efficiency and maximize productivity. 

How? They let you track, understand and manage each process in the organization. 

If you want to make your work life easier, it’s time to start documenting. In this article, we’ll show you how to get started and discuss four must-have business documents to implement in your workflow. 

But before we dive into that, let’s cover the basics. 

What are business documents? 

Business documents are all the papers, reports, files, letters and records that are related to the various company activities. 

They cover information on financial transactions, customer behavior data, meeting minutes and employee agreements. 

By using business documents, you’ll be able to get a quick snapshot of your organization's internal and external dealings. This makes it so much easier to manage processes. These documents also guide employees and senior management when they’re facing issues in the workplace.

For instance, if there’s any confusion over the escalation matrix of the company, all you need to do is create a business document that provides clarity on it. 

Whenever an employee faces a bottleneck, they just need to refer to this document to figure out who to contact for support. 

Here’s a simple template to follow:  

(Source)

Similarly, you’ve got vendor contracts to resolve conflicts with external parties as well. 

These documents contain information about targets, deliverables, code of conduct and duration. 

In case of any disagreements, both parties can refer to the pre-set contract for quick resolution. 

And let’s not forget SOPs, balance sheets, trademarks and shareholder information — a few more examples of business documents. 

Benefits of business documents

As we touched upon earlier, business documents can be a single source of truth during conflicts and potential legal issues. Another major selling point is when you draw up business documents to improve productivity at work. 

Say a few employees couldn’t make it to an important meeting. All you need to do is create a meeting minutes document and distribute it. This way, everyone is kept in the loop. 

And here are four more advantages you stand to gain by creating business documents: 

1. Provides corporate governance 

Corporate governance refers to all the rules and processes followed by a particular organization.

It’s important to create documents that clearly define the organization’s corporate governance. Without business documents, there will be a severe lack of transparency among shareholders. And in turn, this will scare investors off. 

Goodbye mergers and acquisitions!

Additionally, business documents like company bylaws outline rules that govern the company's day-to-day workflow. Apart from explaining corporate hierarchy so new employees know who to contact while facing an issue, they provide key information on audits, fundraising, meetings and elections for the board of directors. 

2. Ensures credibility 

Imagine you had to research the benefits of a product roadmap. You come across two articles — one published several years ago, while the other is relatively new. Which one would you trust more? The recently published one, of course! 

Similarly, if your business documentation is up to date and comprehensive, it shows stakeholders that they can trust your organization. It opens doors to lucrative contracts and collaboration. 

These documents also provide investors and financial auditors with much-needed information about the company's performance and history. You stand to gain immense profit with thorough business documentation. So, prioritize it.

3. Protects business integrity

Ask any business owner, and they’ll tell you that safeguarding the company’s reputation is always a top priority. 

By implementing business documentation, you’re ensuring a procedure is in place for any and every situation. This makes firefighting much easier while enabling proactive thinking at the same time. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that business documentation is the lifeblood of any business. It lists out identifying attributes like mission statements, founding philosophies, financial statements and future plans.

If anyone is curious about the company, simply send a pitch deck over. This helps them learn more about the company’s value and boosts your reputation!

4. Simple training material

Let’s be real — onboarding an employee without documentation is nearly impossible.

It takes hours of explaining, repeating and guiding. Not only is this less efficient, but it means the HR team won’t be able to focus on higher-value tasks that directly impact the company’s bottom line. 

By creating business documents, you can fast-track the onboarding process and use manpower in a better way. 

It also allows the employee to learn more about the organization and the role at their own pace. They can come back to the material and read through it again for a quick refresher, helping them retain critical information. 

4 commonly used business documents 

There are a host of business documents used today. Each one, with a different application and format. 

Some are more important to organizational functioning than others, though. Here are four key business documents that every company should have:   

1. Financial documents 

Effective finance management keeps your company successful. Documents are key to tracking cash flow, income and expenditure. They help business leaders and senior management make data-backed business decisions that help in organizational growth.

Additionally, well-maintained documents can help resolve financial issues quickly. Whenever a problem arises, an accountant can analyze months of documented data and zero in on financial discrepancies and leaks. 

Another use-case is that they provide in-depth insight into the company's performance. Without the right financial documents, the organization could getting into trouble with tax audits. 

Commonly used financial documents include:

  • Profit loss statements.
  • Income statement.
  • Balance sheet.

2. Business reports 

Business reports contain all the info investors and stakeholders need to know about how a business operates. 

Senior executives and managers use them to make informed decisions that are aligned with the company’s goals and values. These reports generally include sales figures, case studies and other forms of operational data. 

Typically, we see analysts create these reports by analyzing various business departments like finance, marketing, and investor stock. Based on their findings, they draw up conclusions that help develop budgets, future forecasts and marketing strategies. 

For instance, several businesses analyze quarterly operations and create reports of changes introduced by leadership, sales, revenue and profit. These reports help businesses compare performance with the previous quarter and tweak targets and strategies accordingly. Some companies also fire consultants to find gaps in current workflows and suggest improvement methods. 

In such cases, you really need business documentation.

There are four types of business reports:

  • Analytical reports. 
  • Progress reports. 
  • Explanatory reports. 
  • Informational reports.  
(Source)

3. Human resource documents 

As the name suggests, employee agreement contracts ensure employees follow and respect company policies.

Hiring managers lay out clearly defined employment terms to help new hires understand their role in the organization better. 

Companies also use documents to explain what employees will get from the company in exchange for their services. These documents outline benefits, rights and duties of each employee. 

Think about any offer letter you get from a company. They generally highlight information like compensation plans and number of leaves. You’re also provided with a deeper insight into your duties and the company’s functioning. 

Without signing an offer letter, employees can’t join the organization. It’s that important. 

Examples of HR documents include: 

  • Employee stock option agreement.
  • Employment contract.
  • Performance appraisal document.
  • Employee handbook.

4. Company bylaws

Company bylaws are one of the first documents created when a company first starts operations. They contain information about the company's governing bodies—the board of directors and senior management. 

The document also establishes the company's purpose and why it was built. Investors can use this to understand the company’s values, ownership dynamics and standard operating procedures.  

As years pass, the company structure will inevitably change. So bylaws also have rules for amendments. A board member can raise an issue in the company's workflow. Then, board members meet to decide how to amend the bylaws. 

Here are the must-have components of company bylaws:

  • Statement of purpose. 
  • Information about the board of directors. 
  • Shareholder information. 
  • Guidelines on how to handle conflict of interest. 
  • Guidelines on how to amend bylaws. 

How to simplify the creation of business documents

Though creating business documents is non-negotiable in any organization, the process isn’t an easy one. You’ll have to observe and analyze current workflows, pen them down, add visuals, start formatting, proofread and finalize. 

It’s definitely a long process. 

What’s more, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 7.5 percent of all paper documents are either misplaced or lost. Imagine having an important contract or agreement in that pile. It could lead to disastrous consequences. There are more disadvantages too:

  • Security issues: Company information is never safe. In case your office premises witnesses a break-in, important documents can be stolen and lost forever. 
  • Lack of storage space: All your files need to be safely stored and neatly stacked. As the business scales, the amount of paperwork you handle will increase drastically. 
  • Chances of damage: Accidental damages like tearing, accidental spills or even natural disasters are highly likely when it comes to physical documents.
  • Difficulty in transportation: In case you want to move headquarters to a different area or city, it’s going to be very difficult to transport all the required documentation.
  • Editing problems: Once you’ve put something down on paper, it isn’t easy to come back to it and make any changes. 
  • Takes time to create: Writing or typing out various processes from scratch will need a lot of precious time and manpower. 

Despite all these problems, you can’t stop creating business documents. They’re indispensable. But you can avoid the cons of using physical documents by automating the process and storing your records in an online repository. 

Scribe comes in handy here. 

All you need to do is record your workflow by clicking a button. Scribe will automatically convert the whole thing into a series of visual, step-by-step guides. And with Scribe's latest feature, Pages, you can combine Scribes with video, images and more.

Here's a Scribe Page in action.

Documentation has never been this easy. 

Apart from the obvious advantages, here are six more reasons why you should consider automating business documentation:

  • Reduced chances of error.
  • Cost-effective 
  • No requirement for manpower
  • Highly collaborative.
  • No need for storage space, except for your computer RAM.
  • Can't be destroyed in a physical calamity like an office fire. 

Scribe also promises to reduce time spent on documentation by 93 percent. The best part? Setting up is super easy. 

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Use Scribe to automate your business documentation

Creating physical documents takes a lot of time and effort. All that energy is better spent on high-value tasks that directly impact the business—like cold outreach or hiring new employees. Luckily, automation makes it a whole lot easier for companies to create business documents. 

You can use Scribe to instantly turn all your business processes into simple guides for all stakeholders. This makes training and collaboration a whole lot easier. Start for free.