At the moment you embrace business growth, you tax the structure of your current business to support both current and future states. Generally speaking, if you cannot document the processes or procedures you rely on for current capacity, how will you know what changes you need in operations to achieve your vision of growth?

Additionally, where you employ workers, you must have predefined instructions for them to follow to achieve an appropriate level of positive interaction and business success. You can promote that interaction through process and procedural documentation.

Processes—what we do—are related tasks that produce a particular output when completed.

Organizational processes in a business's normal workflow generally include:

  • Material processes.
  • Information processes.
  • Human capital processes.

Material processes tend to be focused on the production of tangible products. These are more prevalent in a manufacturing environment, although many professional service companies that produce tangible products may want to consider documenting their material processes as well.

Information processes encompass all of the general work that flows through the organization on a daily basis. This area of process development will no doubt be the most robust and most common to any type of business. It will often include the development and maintenance of forms, job aids, and other tools used to drive customer requests through the company. Often, information processes can also be used to document the material processes.

Human capital processes include those tools used to assist in setting up the structure of teams and individual performance systems. Job descriptions, standards of performance tools, performance review tools, and career assessment and development documentation can be found in this arm of the process loop.


Procedures—how we do what we do—are what occur in the process. Procedures are the steps involved in a particular process.


Policies—why or when we do what we do—are the values and principles of the business that relate to specific procedures. Think of them as a foundation supporting the workflow documentation.

© 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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