Don't Document Your Processes because an ISO Standard Tells You to
I thought I'd talk about something exciting this time around and it's document control or documenting information! Isn't that exciting? Well, traditionally how we think of it in the sense of ISO standard requirements it could be boring.
I recently had a light bulb moment. I was actually on my way to an audit and I was listening to a podcast about documenting your processes – now, no laughing at me! That's right this is what I listen to in my downtime.
As this presenter was talking, I was going, ‘Oh my God, this is so right!’ This is far more exciting than just how you read it in ISO Standards. Have I been living under a rock?! The trouble is that we read these ISO standards and it's written in this dry context. They are great bedtime reading essentially. 😊
But on this podcast, they were talking about all the reasons WHY to document your processes. So, as he was talking and explaining these reasons it made sound so exciting!
It was about freeing yourself up from the day to day in your business, being able to pass on knowledge to other workers, and being able to grow yourself.
As I was listening, I thought, “Oh, he's talking about clause 7.5 Documented information.” There’s my auditor side coming out in me – again. I knew all of this stuff that he was talking about, but I’d never ever related it back to this clause requirement.
All we ever know is that we have to document our system - and I used the words there ‘we have to’ because that’s just what the standard tells us to do.
We follow these ISO standards, you read it clause by clause and we get to clause 7.5 and it's just documented information and it tells us about how to control it, create it, and what documented information we need - all of that practical stuff.
There's no WHY or WHAT are the benefits of doing this? When we understand what and why we're doing these things it gives us some sort of emotion behind it and a better understanding of why on earth we're documenting this stuff.
Have I been living under a rock?!
We're not doing it just to tick a box and make an auditor happy or doing it just to get certified. We are doing it so it's beneficial to us and our business.
These are the reasons WHY we document our processes:
- We document so that our customers receive a consistent product or service
- We document so that our worker's risk of injury or illness is reduced
- We document so that we minimize our impact on the environment
- We document so that as business owners, we can pass on tasks that we have learned along the way so we can focus ON the business, not IN the business
- We document so that we can move away from our current roles and grow into bigger and better things
- And we document so that we have the tools to train others so there's always a backup.
When I was writing that list, I could feel the excitement and the freedom it was created for me. This was because I could see that this is what we want to do, rather than pigeonhole ourselves into a corner.
I've actually worked in a business many years ago were, there was a software developer who had done just this. He developed the software for this particular terminal that we delivered to our clients. He’d developed it so that every day he had to conduct a manual process to get this thing working, which sounds absolutely ridiculous.
I might be oversimplifying it but that’s basically what had to be done. He was the only person who knew how to do this manual process. It wasn’t anything he shared or automated – why? I’m not sure? Maybe he thought he was the cleverest person in the building or that he was keeping his job safe and secure.
But honestly how ridiculous is that? So, he cornered himself into that job. He couldn't grow, he couldn't develop any other programs for any other hardware that we delivered to our customers because he was stuck there. He pegged himself into that corner.
Work to make yourself redundant
He thought he was being smart. I thought he was being ridiculous because honestly, who wants to stay doing the same job or task? Who doesn't want to grow and learn new things?
We have a saying here at Auditor Training Online – “work to make yourself redundant”. We always want to be growing. We always want to be learning new things.
This is where documenting your processes comes into play. This is a huge light bulb moment for me just to understand that by looking at these requirements in the standards, it's not just because we HAVE to, we need to look at the benefits to our personal growth and the benefits to the business.
I encourage you to do this for all areas and rather than looking at it as a HAVE to, look at it, and understand the benefits of doing it. It’s life-changing!
Jackie is a Founding Director of Auditor Training Online. She loves to help others and share her excitement about auditing, consulting and management systems bringing to you her own experience and stories as a certification auditor.