Embed the Document Lifecycle Approach into Your Organisation
No matter how clean and accessible your business documentation is, it is dead weight if it’s out of date. And this is the sad reality in many organisations today. Your business is growing, optimising, and doing things differently every day. Document maintenance becomes a nightmare.
The solution is to embed a Document Lifecycle (DLC) approach into your organisation. Similarly to software and hardware lifecycles, the document lifecycle is aimed to bring consistency and quality to the final product. The scope of DLC should be new business processes, as well as changes to existing processes. Integrated with other organisational processes (e.g. change management, software development, project management), DLC must become an integral part of organisational discipline and culture.
But how do you develop a DLC that works? Below we propose some not-so-secret ingredients for your success.
Firstly, define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved. Each process needs to be assigned a dedicated Process Owner, Process Librarian, and Process Practitioner. Other roles involved would be the QA Function and Testing.
Along with roles and responsibilities, you’ll need to define the stages that documents undergo from draft to sign-off. Make sure that documents get categorised based on their status – a set of concrete stages that trigger certain stakeholder actions, such as review or testing.
It is also important to use consistent versioning practices to differentiate between current and future states. This practice will eliminate the need to wait until the implementation to document upcoming changes, freeing up people’s time and resources.
Finally, take advantage of master-data repositories to provide a layer of abstraction and a single version of the truth for multiple processes that reference or leverage the same data. The master-data is an invaluable tool for storing items, such as screenshots, hyperlinks, folders, and templates.
At the end of the day, all these best practices require understanding of the why and the how. Ensure that your Business Analysts get adequate training on business process modelling, as well as the documentation software solution capabilities.