Documentation is crucial. Without it, your team may be working using competing systems, or toward completely different goals. Which tool or system do you prefer for making sure internal business processes are clear and accessible? Why do you prefer that program or method? Answering the questions, these fourteen young entrepreneurs share their insights.
It’s true that organization is a prerequisite for efficiency. You have two goals for your documentation system: visibility and simplicity. Basecamp and Asana are great for smaller businesses, though as you scale, platforms like Workfront or LiquidPlanner will help track administrative tasks and projects across multiple phases. My team uses Asana right now, and we couldn’t be happier.
2. Dropbox, Slack
We use Dropbox to organize and store everything and share links to download with clients. Internally, we use Slack to avoid running up the email quotas. Dropbox is so widely used that it is impossible to function without it for file transfer, externally. For internal communication, Slack is an excellent way to communicate across multiple platforms. We use both and closely monitor them.
We use Fuse.js for the documentation of our SaaS businesses. It allows users to search and find documents that will hopefully solve their problem. The best part is that it lets us know if users get stuck and what they were searching for so we can continue to update the documentation with the information that they want.
Multiple parts of my team, from sales to marketing to content writing is put through deals and tasks on HubSpot. There are opportunities to collaborate or just assign and track tasks for one employee, but it has multiple ways to track and record contact, notes, deadlines and more. It has proven indispensable for tracking sales, following leads and even publishing content!
– Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
5. G Suite
G Suite, specifically Google Docs and Sheets, is key in our company in making sure everyone on the team has the most current version of content we are working on. If someone has a question, it is easy to communicate within the document itself so everyone is on the same page. Anything with collaborative editing capabilities can be useful when dealing with large amounts of data.
6. JIRA, Google Drive
As a server hosting and managed services provider, documentation is of vital importance to our technical teams. It’s essential that they have a comprehensive grasp of the processes and technology underlying our platforms. We publish customer-focused documentation on our website, and internally we use Google Drive and JIRA for project management.
– Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.
7. Office 365
We use Office 365 for all our documentation related to project. We do software development and all of our projects require doc sharing within our team in terms of requirements, goals and milestone achievements. Office 365 works really great. They also provide free cloud space to share and store other files. I can also share it with my accounting for balance sheet preparation.
Paligo is a great tool to manage your documentation. It has a built-in editor, workflow management and the ability to create different formats for your documentation. For example, you can make it into an e-book that users can download as well as integrate into part of your website where users can easily search for their questions.
9. Slack, Sharepoint
Our team uses Slack (for collaboration) and Sharepoint for long-term knowledge sharing. You can create shared online documents that can be viewed or updated by the entire team. Business processes should be written in clear steps so anyone can read and understand them. If anything is too complicated to be written down or put into a diagram, it’s not a true process yet.
– Arry Yu, Stealth Mode, WTIA
The Teamwork program keeps our team in touch with the specific tasks and projects that individual staff members are working on. Teamwork Projects allows us to electronically assign tasks, chat about them, track progress, and attach documents. It’s a straightforward and well-structured platform that helps us stay organized.
– Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
We rely heavily on Trello for most of our day-to-day business organization. Everyone has their own board which they can organize as they see fit, but all of them are connected in a way that individual projects or tasks can be easily swapped between members. It’s incredible just how versatile this tool is and how much of a positive impact it’s had on my business’ organization.
– Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute for Success
12. Task-Specific Checklists
First, you need a manual, a script or a process book. This doesn’t have to be wordy or lengthy — a checklist will do fine in most situations. The checklist needs to be specific to each task: month end financial close, hiring process, new business process, sales and marketing leads process. Behind the check list have a detailed SOP on each task.
– Jennifer A Barnes, Pro Back Office, LLC
13. Dedicated Cloud Service
Cloud services are robust. Better yet, if you do not eclipse a certain amount of data, these services are free. Our team uses a cloud-based document management service, in our case Dropbox Paper, exclusively for processes and procedure documents. By adopting this approach, there is no clutter and the entire team knows where to find and add to internal documentation.
– Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP / White River Consulting, LLC
14. Many People and Many Goals in Sync
Before we implemented a CRM tool, things were nowhere near as organized as they are now. By having a CRM tool that all employees can access, everybody is privy to the same information at the same time, on the cloud. This maximizes efficiency by enabling all of the people who are working on the same file to be in sync with each other and know what is going on with the file every step of the way.
– Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.