Craig Reid posed this question: ‘If a Process Isn’t Documented – Does it Exist?’
At one of my clients we have two deliveries of fruit a week. When I started working with them I was told to “help myself to one piece of fruit a day”. However, when chatting about my love of the daily dose of fruit one of the staff members exclaimed “you’re only supposed to take one piece of fruit per delivery!” – to which another staff member popped up and said “No, I was told one piece of fruit per day!”. My response was pretty typical of a process consultant: “Show me the process or it doesn’t exist!“
This may sound like a trivial discussion, but there’s an important point to be made: if it isn’t documented in some manner there is no official record of the process. There are no rules and no-one can be held accountable. Who is to say what the process is? Who is to say what is right or wrong?
If you can’t document the process, there really isn’t one. Even if it were informal, you could say – ‘we do it this way most often.’ Without documentation, who performs tasks within the process? Without documentation, what tasks are being performed? And, ‘who is to say what is right or wrong?’ is an understatement.
This brings up an interesting thought – If a process is not important enough to document, why are we even talking about it?
My conclusion – if a process is not functioning properly, there will be some costs associated with it. If those costs are high enough, the process will get documented. If only to find out why there is a problem.
What has been your experience?