Here at KMP Consultants, we understand the need for predictable and scalable growth. It is what every company strives to achieve, but did you know that documentation is a key part of reaching this goal?

The ability to turn on and off the flow of leads, sales, and client fulfillment will help your company control the entrepreneurial cycle. Too much growth too fast can overwhelm sales and client fulfillment teams quickly if you can’t control the flow.  So how do you find the balance?

No matter the size of your business, a lack of systems, procedures, and documentation will hinder your ability to grow.  

Let’s start with an interesting scenario. You own a popular bakery, and your business is running smoothly, and sales have never been better. One day one of your employees calls in sick. You decide to fill in and help make some of the treats to take up some of the slack. As the orders start to come in you quickly realize that you don’t know how to make the Bundt cakes that are one of the biggest sellers at your store. So, you ask another one of your employees to make the cakes only to find out that they don’t know either.

As you work your way around the bakery you slowly fill with dread as a glaring weakness in your team begins to show its face. The only person who knew how to make the most popular item on your menu is out sick and you have no clue when they will return.  

What do you do? What could have prevented this? 

The good news is this situation can be avoided. You can prevent this type of scenario from happening, but you have to take real, intentional action to get there.  

How Documentation Will Make or Break Your Business
Documentation is a key part of reaching your business goal to scale and grow sustainably.

With the right documentation, you can go global. 

I spent 17 years serving in the United States military. The most important thing I learned about business during my military career, other than how good or bad leadership and culture can make or break your company, is that the documentation of your standard operating procedures (SOP’s), common practices, value engines, and playbooks, is a key factor for scale. The ability for you to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and have repeatable outstanding quality, rides on your systems and processes.  

One of the reasons our military is so successful is because everything we do is in a manual or documented somewhere and is easily accessible. It’s important to not just have everything documented but to be sure it can be found by anyone at any time. It can’t be hidden in a file somewhere on one person’s computer. 

I needed to know not just my job but the job of the service member beside me. I was required to step into roles both laterally and above my pay grade. This  flexibility and cross-training is what allows our service members to be spread out, worldwide, and still accomplish their mission. All successful companies do this. The US Army, Vestas, and Intel, all are examples of companies that I have worked for that document processes and procedures for EVERYTHING. It’s a key component of what makes them successful. 

One of the principal ways successful businesses scale predictably is by documenting the systems and processes that help their company generate revenue, sales, fulfillment of sales, and generate new ideas. Every essential component of your business should be documented so it is repeatable. This allows for predictability as well.  

How do you go about documenting your company’s SOPs, engines, and playbooks?  

How Documentation Will Make or Break Your Business
Real leadership isn’t about taking charge – it’s about listening, empathizing, and connecting with people.

First, it starts with defining your core processes and then identifying who should own the documentation of that process. Take the time to figure out what processes give your company value. Then, figure out who is best suited and most experienced in completing that task so they can document it. After that, the next step is to design the step-by-step checklist and audits and then test them in the “real world” with the “non-experts” on your team. This means after your expert designs the checklists, hand them over to people on your team who don’t necessarily complete these tasks regularly. If they can complete this task with no issues, then the documentation is complete.  

However, if the checklist can’t get them through the task without any hiccups, then add or take away steps until they can. It will most likely take multiple run-throughs to accomplish this part of the process. Once the checklist is complete and a non-expert can accomplish the process with no issues, your documented process is ready to be deployed throughout your organization.  

By completing this process, you’ve completed the three Ds of process documentation: Define, Design, and Deploy. When doing this, you essentially clone your experts and give their knowledge and expertise to the rest of your employees. No longer are you in a situation where you must lean on one person to do one job. What’s more, you no longer have to wonder how things get done in your business. 

Unfortunately, many companies wait until it’s too late to document their SOPs, engines, and playbooks. They find themselves in a situation similar to the one above and suddenly realize they’re stuck. If you want to grow your business, it’s time to start documenting. It may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.  

Together, we can make your business a well-oiled machine that doesn’t have to rely on you or anyone else to make the magic happen.