Steps for Documenting processes for your VA
Everything we do on a repeat basis requires a process. It creates consistency and efficiency. For example, a morning routine for a parent might require the process of making oneself a very large coffee before getting the kids ready for school and ensuring everyone has their packed lunch and the right PE kit!
The importance of a business having documented processes is along much the same lines and this is particularly important to create consistency and efficiency.
By documenting processes, you can be more effective at knowledge preservation, continual improvement, as well as training and onboarding.
To be able to delegate tasks (especially if you are feeling overwhelmed and require a little help) then it is also particularly helpful to document the process. Chances are, although you may feel you are the only one capable (and its sometimes easier just to do it yourself) you will be able to hand these tasks over, freeing up your time to concentrate on growing the business you love.
Why is documenting systems important?
When baking a cake, the same set of instructions is imperative – to follow both the ingredients and the method to the letter. As many people that watch Bake Off have witnessed, a set of instructions without some of the key elements can result in varying interpretations which are directly linked to end results.
Some bakers interpretation is better than others, however, with full instructions, the likely outcome should be much improved and with practice a batch of scones or such like can only get better the more times you do it.
Systems are used as a reference on how to complete a task efficiently. Whether it’s an email template or a tutorial on how to use a specific program or tool, it’s important to have some kind of documentation as a guide. This way, a VA can use the document for training or if they need clarification. To save time on documentation, you can use video capture, create a checklist, or take screenshots. Each of these methods is best used in certain situations.
So as a guide as to where you should start, here’s how you document a system properly:
- Create a system document.
A system document tells you all the information about how a task is done in a pre-set/standardised layout, a bit like a road map!
- What is the task?
- Why does that task need to be completed?
- Who is in charge of completing the task?
- When does it need to be done?
- How does the task need to be done?
For example: If you would like your VA to prepare a document monthly to send out to all your clients, you would give the VA the information needed, highlight the format for presenting the data, inform them the date and time it needs to be sent and by which format.
- Video Capture
A video is so useful to be able to refer to and it is often quicker to show the VA visually what and how they should do something than it is to type out a document.
For this, you simply record yourself doing the work. This way, someone who’s watching you doing a task can just follow the steps you’ve taken.
There a number of free tools that can do this including Free Cam, ShareX and Free Screen Video Recorder.
- Use a checklist!
Some processes need to be done in specific steps. Let’s take the example of baking a cake again. You “think” you have followed the instructions, but by not having a documented process of using a checklist of ingredients meant that you forgot to add the eggs!
A checklist helps ensure that all the steps are done in the correct order and that nothing is missed out. You complete repetitive tasks more quickly and efficiently while making fewer mistakes. It’s also helpful in keeping you motivated to finish tasks. There’s something satisfying in checking off items from a list! At VA Whiz we love it!
- Collect Screenshots
Like video capture, screenshots are a great way to create tutorials for a system. Since we use a number of tools and programs that are industry-specific, screenshots allow you to create a visual guide. It highlights an interface choice with a visual reference and creates step-by-step instructions for a specific task.
- Keep System Documents Centralised
It’s so time consuming and frustrating looking for a file, going through hundreds of folders, only then to find it on the desktop! Organisation and centralisation of system documents and other process references are vital.
Why go through the trouble of documentation if you can’t find the file when you need it?
For easier file sharing, use services like Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, or even the file-sharing features on Asana and Slack.
The biggest problem with the lack of documentation is that it hinders productivity. It can cause a VA to spend more time on a task because processes still need to be explained to them or it takes a long time for them to find references.
So if you are struggling with your time, you are desperate for help, but you don’t know how you can possibly offload or delegate to a VA, here are some quick tips of how to do it effectively.
Step 1 – Identify the talks that you would like to delegate to the VA.
Step 2 – Document the procedure(s) using any of the methods above
Step 3 – Test the validity of the procedure before you hand it over completely to the VA
Step 4 – Hand over the task after the procedure has been tested and is successfully implemented
Step 5 – Measure the effectiveness of the VA based on their ability to successfully complete the task buy using said procedure
A bonus step – and one which we very much enjoy at VA WHIZ is to enhance/improve the procedure. As your VA does the task over and over they will often figure out a way to make the task more efficient.
If you don’t have processes in place, then we can certainly assist with documenting these for future reference. Our job is to work with you step by step and once a process has been carried out once, you can let the VA just work the job going forward.
Good luck, but if you do get stuck – don’t be in a tiz – call the whiz!
If you are interested in finding out more about how we work and what we do , our team is always more than happy to help. Contact us at email@example.com for a no obligation chat.