Have you ever wondered why processes don't get documented? Why new joiners struggle to get up to speed? Why the same mistakes keep happening?
We have, and we found a solution. We're working hard to share this with you. Read on to see our motivations and our manifesto for supporting you.
When you document a process or training, you create a starting point.
Where before there was nothing, now a new team member can use this resource and see the key steps involved.
If anything is unclear, then they can ask questions, and the process can be improved so the same questions don't come up next time.
Slowly but surely, your processes start to improve:
Over time, the whole company begins to work just... like... clockwork!
This is how we've been running our own companies for the last decade.
It's also not a secret — it's covered extensively in best–selling business books like Traction, Clockwork, The Checklist Manifesto and many more.
But sadly, it's not yet the norm.
Some processes need a lot of guidance. Some need data collection. Some need automation. And some just need a few bullet points to remind people of the key steps.
There's no obvious tool that can support all of these needs, so you end up using a document for one process, and a spreadsheet for the next.
While automation sounds nice, it's likely to involve another tool and workflow diagrams that will be difficult to maintain, so you scrap that aspiration. And anything that just needs a few bullets doesn't get documented at all as your colleagues probably won't know where to find it.
Having decided to use a document, you capture the key points in a list of bullet points.
It feels silly sending over a document with just a few bullet points, so you pad it out with additional guidance which will probably be helpful, but eats up an hour of your time instead of a few minutes.
You add in a table to make it easier to review, but the column widths aren't playing nicely. So you now spend another 30 minutes trying to make it look pretty — or at least professional 😬
Eventually you can share it with a colleague, and after just a few months of iteration, the process goes live!
At this point, it feels like the job is done.
But the first version of your process should really just be the starting point. There will be opportunities to make the documented process both more effective and more efficient.
Ideally, you want the people using the process on a regular basis to suggest changes immediately.
But in practice, other team members won't feel comfortable making updates which they worry will cause unforeseen issues. And they also won't feel comfortable suggesting changes that could distract you from your other tasks.
We believe there's a better way, and it needs to start with a better tool.
This is our manifesto for delivering it to you. We welcome all questions and feedback — please do get in touch!
The pareto principle tells us we can get 80% of the benefit with 20% of the effort. That proves to be true with documenting processes — sharing the first version is always the most important step. It may already be good enough, and if not it's a starting point to iterate on in future.
Creating professional and engaging resources shouldn't require any special design skills. Users should never lose time fixing the look and feel, or lose sleep worrying about it.
Every process can feel simple if it's broken down into small steps, with each step providing guidance, useful tips and warnings when needed. Yes — even your tax return.
Every team member should feel comfortable drafting a new process and getting it published. Every team member should feel comfortable suggesting changes to existing processes. Teams should never rely on specific individuals to own resources and make updates.
Adding automation can feel scary, introducing new systems and workflow diagrams. We want to make it simple — adding a step that sends an email or triggers other processes should be as simple as adding a step with guidance. Everyone on the team should see how it works, and feel comfortable making updates.
It should be obvious which tool to use for a documenting a new process, and that tool should be the best solution both for the first draft and the scalable solution.
It should be trivial to get the right people involved at every stage. Some may help you to design the process, others may give feedback, and yet another may be asked to review and approve the result.
It should be trivial for people to find processes. Within AirManual, search needs to be the first thing users see, and it needs to work every time. It should be possible to add existing resources and make these searchable too. And if you're team has a home for collaboration like Microsoft Teams, then it should all be available directly from that within that tool.
Many tools can look great in a small scale demo, but won't scale well when you've got hundreds of processes and thousands of users. AirManual needs to be easy to manage across teams and organizations, secure, and should support compliance with industry standards such as ISO9000.