Process Case Study

Process documentation:
a recipe for success

Remember when I said I was the resident office baking queen? That’s because I know how to follow a recipe. Well, process writing is sort of like writing a recipe; you’ve got to trim the fat, and offer clear and concise directions so that the cookies (or you and your team) don’t get burnt.

Offer clear and concise directions so that the cookies (or you and your team) don’t get burnt.

The Science Behind Efficiency

The reality is, as agencies grow (and grow quickly), a way of doing things that used to work isn’t guaranteed to work in the future—and if it does still work, it’s unlikely it’s the most effective way. While you can freestyle your efforts like a chef, it’ll be harder to gain consistent results. However, if you look at efficiency as if it were a science, like baking, you can produce consistent results and even fine-tune the process over time.

Having spearheaded several process changes, I noticed another aspect that made it so important to tackle the new process documentation when I did; it felt like there was a tipping point where a new process was required in order to thoughtfully solve the issues at hand. Start too early, and you’ll find yourself going back time and again to reconfigure the process itself. Start too late, and you’ll face a ton of backlash from the people set in their ways. After all, you can’t just open up the oven door and add another egg or another teaspoon of sugar. That’s not to say creating processes can’t be collaborative, or they can’t be tweaked, it just underscores the importance of getting it right the first time.

Start too early, and you’ll find yourself going back time and again to reconfigure the process itself. Start too late, and you’ll face a ton of backlash from the people set in their ways.

First, you’ve got to crack a few eggs

As our business grew, and the task load became uneven, it was necessary for someone to take on the role of taskmaster—to make sure everything was balanced. Initially, our department had a pretty inefficient system where one person kept an eye on tasks and managed the workload of many. I was asked to improve this system, and to write documentation that outlined the new processes. 

Can I borrow a cup of sugar?

It was important to collaborate with other departments while making the process—the process of the process if you will. Since so many other departments relied on the Design team, I wanted to ensure that there were good, clear lines of communication built into the process. Thanks to taking this extra step, we were able to avoid any major grievances with the new process.

Too many cooks in the kitchen?

On to the process itself. As we were already using a CRM (Salesforce), I had a few constraints to work within. However, by utilizing the 5-stage method for problem solving within design (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test) I was able to come up with a solution that allowed us to continue using the tools of our CRM while streamlining the whole process. By moving to a queue system, as opposed to individual tasks being sent (essentially randomly) to different designers, we were able to get the work done over the course of the day in a substantially more efficient manner. 

However, by utilizing the 5-stage method for problem solving within design (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test) I was able to come up with a solution

Tweaking the recipe

Since implementing the new process, we’ve regularly gone in and tweaked small aspects to keep up with the changing demands of the workplace. The queue process has also been adopted by other departments, and led to sub-processes for specific tasks. These include globally updating monthly incentive offers from multiple automotive brands and creating ads for our PPC department.