Adam Deane raised some excellent points in a recent blog BPM : Process Documentation. He lamented that most process documentation is rarely read. And he is right. Call it process documentation and no one will read it. Not even the most enthusiastic process geek.

But it is clear that you need people to follow processes, particularly in highly regulated industries. In pharmaceutical companies people need to followed detailed processes and procedures in certain areas, such as clinical trials.

But in every industry, there is a need when staff are new to the company, new to the role or performing a task which they haven’t done for a while they need guidance. But if that guidance is buried in textual document hidden in a document management database, then Adam’s point is a far one. No-one will read it. And mistakes will be made, some with dire consequences. Just look at the oil and gas industry and Deepwater Horizon where clearly process failures played a part in the the disaster.

So a couple of things need to change:

1. call it something emotive; brand it: How2, PACE, MyToyota, HitchHikersGuide)
2. make it intuitive, easy, relevant and useful; i.e. not process diagrams or flowcharts but guidance that is built on / re-purposes process documentation
3. make it easy to find, first time; personalised and delivered onto the device the user wants; web, iPad, iPhone
4. make sure it is up to date; process ownership delegated down the organisation and friction-free governance

Can that change behaviour?  Absolutely.  One client we have gets 6.2m hits per year on the ‘process documentation’.  That is 4 hits per day PER PERSON in the entire organisation. Many of our clients are rolling out their process content, using our software, to every employee, which is a significant cost. How do they justify that? Because the departmental or division-wide projects have proven that there is a positive ROI.

So Adam’s conclusion is “Process documentation needs a revamp. Surely it can be done better than it is done today…” is correct.

It is and it has been, but don’t look at the Business Analysis tools for inspiration. They are targeting different audience – process analysts and professionals. Forget Visio, brown paper and stickies. Yes, these are still be used!!!

There is a new breed of process vendors who care about end user engagement. The future is already here, and it is called Nimbus Control.  You call it what works for you.


3 thoughts on ““No one reads process documentation” – 6.2 million reasons why that is wrong #bpm

  1. People will read process documentation if the following are true:
    – it is dead easy to find (and only if dead easy)
    – it is always relevant…no shuffling
    – it is trustworthy (current, accurate)
    To make this happen, it needs to be part of a system, or it will collapse under its own weight!

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