Productivity

5 Ways to Improve Your Documentation Productivity (& Cut Your Time in Half)

Streamlining your business processes can improve team productivity, mitigate risk of human error and improve client relationships. Learn more!

Introduction

Every organization has at least hundreds, if not thousands, of documents of data continuously created, shared and stored.

Whether it's employee training, customer invoicing or confidential contracts, you most likely have a paper copy or a digital record. 

And managing it all getrs pretty challenging. Your documentation system directly impacts your team's productivity. Research shows that bad documentation makes retrieving and organizing information challenging, accounting for 21.3 percent of productivity loss

In addition, the cost of poor resource management leads to:

  • Tight deadlines and heavy workloads putting teams under unnecessary pressure. 
  • Frequent unexpected setbacks when coordinating with vendors and customers.
  • Minor issues growing into major financial setbacks.
  • Increased information silos across departments. 

As a leader, you understand the consequences of these setbacks. Your success lies in your employees' conducting critical tasks efficiently. But, for this, you require a structured yet powerful documentation system that makes creating, sharing and retrieving information- fast

How do you get it done? Let’s find out. 

Benefits of streamlining business processes

Productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction are the by-products of a well-ordered business process. By streamlining day-to-day business processes, your team can maintain the quality of their work, increase team morale and automate repetitive tasks that allow them to focus on their core jobs. 

Besides these, there are a number of benefits of streamlining your business processes:

  • Time-saving: With a well-laid business process, team members can easily carry out daily operations without waiting for their managers approval. Team leaders can list the course of action for every business operation to solve users queries beforehand. 
  • Mitigate the risk of human error: Transparency in business processes removes the risk of human error and ensures compliance with rules and regulations. 
  • Better communication:  With a centralized documentation software, it becomes easier to connect and share information with team members. You can save documents in cloud, catgorize them into topics and manage accessibility so that all members are on the same page. 
  • Improve client relationships: Rather than typing out long emails or hopping on calls when a customer asks your team a question, you can direct them to the specific document to easily solve their queries.

Best practices to improve documentation productivity

Just creating digital records isn't enough. The future of documentation isn't solely dependent on the technology used to manage it. It also includes how people are using it and what purpose it solves.

That's why it's crucial to implement strategies that drive documentation productivity. These are some of the best practices that can help you achieve that:

Determine documentation structure 

Documentation is usually created for every crucial business case. If you fail to do it effectively, your team will suffer from an unexpected workload, your customers will receive wrong information, and your firm can experience financial losses. 

In fact, a knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours a day, or roughly 1/3rd of their workday, searching for information. According to Worlddata, the average wage of a full-time employee in the US is $74,738 in 2021. Therefore, if we calculate, it costs over $ 24,000 per year or $ 2076 per month per employee to merely search for information. 

And that's a lot of money. 

The solution to keeping your documents organized is to set rules within your team or company:

  • The best documentation comes from teamwork. To produce the most accurate documentation, you need to include team members that contribute to the process and are responsible for its success. For instance, product documentation must include knowledge from developers, UX designers, product managers and other technical roles. 
  • You need to determine when new documents to create and store. Also, set guidelines for naming documents (date+ project+objective+short description etc.) and storing information to avoid confusion. 
  • Define topic types to categorize documents for quick and easy access to the most relevant information. Some common topic types are: concept (introducing a topic in depth), task (defining a step-by-step method to complete a task), and troubleshooting (describing an issue and suggesting relevant solutions).

This practice will serve as a guideline for your documentation process, allowing anyone on your team to confidently contribute the correct information in the correct format. 

Don't presume to assume 

Even if you know your targeted user base, your documentation should still be written so anyone can understand it. You can use step-by-step instructions to make things simpler, but consider placing them in a separate chapter or via a hyperlink to avoid clutter. 

When documenting, keep yourself in the shoes of the users who will read it. Special terms can be used within a particular audience, which might be the clearest way to communicate with the group. However, going beyond necessary technical terms can cause misunderstandings, even if your readers are specialists. 

Also, make sure you remove unnecessary fluff and only add terms that are simple, brief, and clear. The plainer version conveys information more accurately and clearly than the jargon-laden version.  Let’s see some of the examples:

Don’t say Say
A considerable amount of Much
A majority of Most
Adjacent to Near
Along the lines of Like
Accounted for by the fact that Because

When you don't have a way to express an idea without a technical term, make sure to add definitions in your notes. However, try to keep definitions to a minimum. Remember, you are writing to communicate, not to impress. 

Visualize your documentation 

Visual content is one of the best ways to make your documents engaging and easier to read. Studies show that people remember only 10–20 percent of what they read but 65 percent of what they see. This is because the human brain processes images faster than text. 

Anyway, work-related documents aren't classified as "fun reads,"  so you need to find ways to transfer knowledge effectively without boring your readers. With visual documentation, you can easily produce software how-tos, tutorials, product instruction manuals, or training content. 

Benefits of visual process documentation:

  • Provide a reference guide for the expected results. 
  • Provide context to projects and processes. 
  • Remove any procedural confusion and make it easier for users to mimic the steps. 
  • Facilitate easier training for new participants. 

But how do you create visual process documentation, especially if you are not a designer?

Thankfully, you don't have to look that far to solve this issue. 

Scribe is your your secret documentation weapon that automatically creates beautiful step-by-step guides by capturing your clicks and keystrokes as you work.

Document anything without breaking your back taking and editing screenshots, and jotting text into the world's longest word doc — all to compiling them to share with your team members.

Scribe does all of this for you in seconds. Here's a Scribe on how to Scribe (that only took 15 seconds to make)!

And once you're done, you can share your scribes as links, export them into different formats or embed them anywhere. 

‎Great documentation doesn't have to take hours. Create unlimited Scribes and document as many processes as possible, saving your organization tons of time.

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Discover documentation pitfalls & address them 

When writing documentation, you will find issues. Even the smallest problem left unattended can bring your project down. That's why you must analyze your documentation timely and address pitfalls. 

But, before that, you need to know what problems you are looking to solve. Here are some of the most common project documentation challenges:

  • Unauthorized content changes: Projects with multiple shareholders possess a high risk of unauthorized editing. Here, using a documentation tool with version control is needed to manage different drafts and provide a trail of revisions. 
  • Lack of accessibility:  The top motive of documentation is to provide users with access to instant information whenever needed. Your documentation software should have cloud-based repositories to centralize project documents and act as a single source of truth.
  • Regulatory compliance: Compliance requirements for sensitive information are extremely important. You must ensure your documentation system complies with applicable regulations and protects user information. 
  • Incorrect documentation structure: Every organization follows a documentation structure to remove user confusion. Not following the guidelines can lead to duplication and overwork. As a project leader, you must ensure that your project documentation guidelines are followed, and that information is structured correctly. 

Using the right tool, you can combat most of your documentation challenges. Your documentation system should allow you to create documents, share them with members, comply with security policies and ensure that only accurate information is passed on. 

Create a process documentation strategy 

Many organizations make the mistake of instantly jumping into documenting processes without a strategy. Information can only be useful when users gain knowledge and drive actions. Without any strategy, you tend to produce inaccurate, low-quality documents that cost you time and money for your business. 

A good documentation strategy focuses on creating high-quality documentation that helps achieve business goals. For instance, if you are a SaaS company, your major focus should be product documentation. Capturing product features and troubleshooting user problems will help maximize the utility of your product and solve customer queries seamlessly. 

To create a good documentation strategy, you should have:

  • Clear business goals.
  • List of documentation projects based on business priority.
  • Senior leaders define KPIs to measure the success of your documentation system.
  • Governance structure to oversee the documentation. 
  • Communication plan to share your documents.

Your documentation strategy should define your business documentation's current and future states. It is a combined effort of all team members, whether you are creating documents or accessing them.You can easily measure whether the organization has achieved its current state through Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) evaluated in quarterly meetings. 

Wrapping up

While process documentation might look difficult to achieve because of the overwhelming amount of information that needs to be recorded. However, effective documentation is the key to increasing team productivity, improving the organization's level of customer service and helping monitor progress. 

You can easily improve your documentation productivity by following the above best practices. While it's possible to perform documentation manually, documentation software can make that process faster and easier. 

That's where you can use Scribe to keep all your information organized and accessible.

In addition to creating step-by-step guides, you can use Scribe Pages to combine multiple Scribes with videos, images and more. You can centralize similar project-related information into a single document. Once done, you can share it with your team members as a URL link of a PDF document or embed it in your wikis.