If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that creating processes for your business is important. They make the business scalable, more consistent and more marketable. You also know that you need to manage your team, your clients and your projects efficiently to generate great results. Ideally, you would like to be able to integrate these two concepts. Unfortunately, none of the tools available today are designed to handle both. In fact, if you do a Google search for “process development tool” or “business process tool,” you’re not going to find anything useful. On the other hand, if you search for “project management tool,” you’ll find an endless supply of options. Fortunately, we’ve developed a #cwHack to apply to popular project management systems to solve the problem. This article will walk you through this simple hack for Basecamp.com.
Basecamp is one of the most popular project management systems in the world, and for those that use it, the service provides a great platform to help companies and their clients share knowledge and work together more efficiently. Basecamp allows users to create and organize projects using five elements- Discussions, To-dos, Files, Text documents and Events. The Text documents element will be our primary tool for this process management hack.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to either designate an existing project where you will store processes or create a new one called “Processes” (or something similar). Unless you have a project for HR or something similar that you will never close or archive, I highly recommend the latter option. You’ll want to keep all your processes in one place, so they will be easy to search and organize. Furthermore, you won’t want ANY text documents that are NOT processes in this project.
Once inside your designated project, you’ll see along the top row an option to “Add the first: Text document.” Select this option, and you’ll be taken to a blank, untitled text page. This is the blank canvas on which you will create each of your processes.
In order to be effective, every process document must contain three components: Title, Goal, and Step-By-Step Process.
Title: The purpose of the title is to make it easy for anyone in your company to search for and recognize the process for which they are looking. Basecamp only allows users to search for words in the titles of text documents, so it is important to include the key words that people looking for this process might include in a search. Furthermore, the title should be clearly understandable to anyone in your company, so do your best to avoid departmental jargon. Something you may also want to consider is the concept of using titles to categorize your processes. For example, you may want to put “HR” at the beginning of all your human resource processes. That way, you can run a search for HR and find all the relevant department processes.
Goal: At the beginning of any process, you should include it’s goal. The goal description expands upon the title by including the reason a person might need to use this process and what they should expect if they complete it.
Step-By-Step Process: The steps of the process are the meat of the document and should include each action that a person must take in order to complete the process. When done correctly, this is tedious work, but it is important work. The detail in these steps are the only way to ensure that your work flows are documented. Even more importantly, when an employee discovers a better way to complete a process, they can simply update this document which will then be available to everyone else in the company.
Having written processes will give you a great tool to ensure that your business can sustain rapid growth while maintaining quality. But, these processes are only useful if they are used by your team and updated regularly. The biggest advantage to managing your processes in your Basecamp (or other project management system) is that the processes themselves become extremely accessible to your employees. Furthermore, each process will have a unique URL that you can link to from within To-do lists, discussions or even standard emails. By encouraging your leadership and employees to incorporate these processes into their daily workflow, you can minimize mistakes, rapidly increase shared knowledge, and build a stronger, more dependable business.