Did you know that workers typically waste a full day of work weekly searching for information? Imagine how much you could achieve by giving each of your employees a whole additional day per week to focus on key tasks or freeing up that time for creative thinking.
That's what business process standardization can help you with. Writing down mission-critical business processes in easy-to-understand formats and making them accessible to your teams can streamline many repetitive tasks without having to explain them to everyone individually.
Keep reading to find out how you can standardize business processes to effectively reduce confusion and improve engagement and productivity at your company.
What is process standardization?
Process standardization is all about creating consistent procedures and guidelines for different activities. In other words, it's the organization of certain tasks, approaches and administrative steps and their formalization.
With a standardized execution model, your team knows what to do to keep results up to the same quality and always deliver them on time. You can standardize pretty much any process within your organization – from answering client calls to payroll processing.
Benefits of standardization
Here's why you need to start to document processes at your company:
- Efficiency: Standardized processes minimize unnecessary variations, reduce the likelihood of errors, increase efficiency and streamline task execution.
- Consistency: Business process management and standardization ensure consistent quality across teams, departments or locations. They contribute to a more reliable and predictable workflow.
- Scalability: Standards enable process automation and scalability, making it easier for organizations to replicate successful methods and handle increased workloads as they grow or change.
- Better onboarding: Documenting existing processes simplifies onboarding for new employees, accelerating the learning curve. 42% of surveyed employees say that information at work is too scattered throughout different platforms, and 81% feel overwhelmed by the sea of new complex processes they have to learn. Having this in one place and format reduces this confusion.
- Risk management: Standardization reduces errors and compliance violations, which is crucial in regulated industries.
- Continuous improvement: Standardized business processes allow for easier identification of inefficiencies, bottlenecks and areas for improvement, leading to continuous optimization. What's more, the majority of employees value learning as the key to their career success.
- Communication: Process standardization improves communication and collaboration within and between teams by establishing a common language and set of procedures, clarifying roles and facilitating better alignment across departments.
- Customer satisfaction: Reliable processes lead to satisfied customers. Trust and loyalty also increase due to predictable and high-quality products or services.
- Resource optimization: Process mapping eliminates unnecessary steps, optimizing resource use, saving costs and improving efficiency. It's one of the best ways to reduce the time and money spent on training employees – which can currently cost you as much as $1,071 per learner.
Not to mention, process standardization helps to keep your employees thriving. Survey respondents say that being able to locate and direct others to the right resources is the strongest indicator of efficient, satisfying work. Over 70% of workers feel that this makes them more productive, engaged and happy.
Standardization destroys creativity? Nonsense!
Still unsure? Let’s bust some common myths about process standardization that might be preventing you from thriving in an organized workflow:
- Boredom and monotony: Flexible and autonomous standardized business processes give employees a set of clear guidelines to follow. That means they always know what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. They can also spend less time looking for information or figuring out how to approach task organization – which is the boring part, if you ask us. This makes work easier, faster and consistently good.
- Creativity suppression: In the same way ”mindless” work improves creativity by giving the brain a break, having sufficient resources and information increases professional creativity. Guidelines and SOPs prevent employees from feeling lost or overwhelmed while leaving that freedom for satisfying, autonomous work.
- Lack of adaptability: While standardization establishes a baseline, it doesn't mean processes can't evolve. Well-designed systems include feedback and continuous improvement, allowing organizations to build and refine processes in response to changing needs.
- Loss of individuality: Standardization is about consistency in processes, not homogeneity. Employees can still contribute their unique skills, perspectives and strengths to their roles within the framework of standardized processes.
How do you know you need to implement standardized processes?
Here's a list of symptoms of an organization without standardized procedures:
- Your final product always needs some kind of improvement
- You experience frequent delays, and it's hard for you to meet deadlines
- It's difficult for you and your employees to locate the information they're looking for
- Leaders find it hard to delegate tasks, or there aren't clearly defined roles
- Customers often complain about the quality of products or services they receive
- It's difficult to plan goals and measure results
If that sounds like you, you probably need to implement business process automation with thorough documentation. Read on to find out how.
Process standardization with MagicHow: How to create a culture of documentation
MagicHow is a process documentation tool that enables organizations to create, share and update process documentation easily. With its user-friendly interface, you'll make stylish step-by-step guides and training manuals in minutes instead of hours.
You can use this standard operating procedure software to create guides on specific processes and tools used in:
- HR: Recording procedures for recruitment and applicant selection, showing how to organize benefits administration or request sick leave, creating employee training materials
- Customer support: Answering FAQs with actionable visuals, creating troubleshooting guides for using your tools, writing customer service training and user manuals with software screenshots
- Operations: Instructions for using CRM, ERP, SCM, business analytics, marketing automation, project and financial management and other tools you use
- Sales: Maintaining a high operational efficiency and customer satisfaction level with customer and salesman training manuals on specific tools and procedures
MagicHow is diverse and lets you create different guiding documents, such as:
- Knowledge bases
- Step-by-step guides
- Troubleshooting guides
- Software documentation
- Manuals and tutorials
- FAQ sections
Identify the business processes you want to standardize, goals and audience
The first step to standardizing your operational processes is to identify what needs to be standardized, why and for whom. That will help you determine the level of detail required in the documentation. Define the base skills and knowledge your target audience already has and what the standardized process should help them achieve.
Aspects to consider include:
- Time available for learning
We recommend mapping out the activities currently being done – no details are necessary at this stage. You can use AS-IS mapping to help you visualize how your business procedures are being performed, which is a great base for optimizing them.
Install your process documentation software
The next step is to install process documentation software that's easy to use and actually makes this process faster. MagicHow helps create process documentation with ease and enables collaboration among teams. You can use a browser extension (compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari) or the desktop version.
Perform and record the process you want to document
With MagicHow, all you have to do is press record and perform the process as usual. The program automatically captures and documents the individual steps as you go, adding them to the training manual content.
Customize your process documentation
Once you stop recording, the manual is almost done. At this point, MagicHow gives you plenty of customization options, such as:
- Adding steps’ titles and descriptions to make the manual more transparent and attractive.
- Blurring sensitive and confidential data such as personal information, passwords or proprietary content.
- Cropping pictures to remove any irrelevant or distracting elements from your screenshots.
- Adding logos to your screenshots to reinforce your brand identity and create a more professional appearance.
- Changing style (colors, fonts) to ensure your training materials are coherent, professional and readable.
- Replacing or merging the slides to avoid redundancy and give the information a logical flow.
To make standardizing business processes as effective as possible, follow these best practices:
- Start each instruction with an actionable verb: click, type, review or analyze. It makes how-to guides more practical and direct.
- Use formatting that facilitates skimmability (headings, bullet points and numbered lists). Include a table of contents and index for readers to jump straight to what interests them.
- Keep your language straightforward, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical terms that may lead to confusion. If you need to use acronyms, abbreviations or industry-specific words, provide a glossary to prevent misunderstandings.
- Add visuals like diagrams, charts or images. MagicHow makes screenshots that help clarify complex business operations.
- Explain to the audience how the manual relates to their job and why it's significant in the broader context of the company's goals.
Share your process documentation
After you finish customizing, the next step is to share it with your audience. MagicHow enables you to do this in any way that's comfortable for you:
- Using the link configuring access settings
- Exporting the standardized business process in PDF
- Copying the guide as HTML or Markdown to post it on third-party websites
- Embedding the instructions in Notion, Confluence, Zendesk, Webflow or other tools
Ask for feedback and regularly update
When your target audience has had time to use the training manual in practice, ask for their feedback. Based on their comments, you can regularly update the process documentation. That way, the instructions are always accurate and up-to-date and help to maintain consistency and quality across the organization.
Standardizing processes may seem boring or rigid, but it actually gives organizations more freedom by freeing up time they would otherwise spend on searching for information or struggling to use new tools. It improves efficiency, consistency and quality control, which leads to better productivity and customer satisfaction. Plus, employees can focus on creative problem-solving rather than worrying about organizing their work or getting lost in an unclear set of expectations.
In short – standardization is a flexible framework that accommodates necessary variations and promotes continuous improvement. It helps strike a balance between consistency and creativity.