How To Start a Process

Brian and Heather from Gozynta joined by Allen & co. discuss how to start a process. Do you suffer from “blank-page syndrome” (working on the trademark for that one). Allen, Heather, and Brian share their recent experience collaborating on a process together. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, just start!

Video Transcript

Allen Edwards 

Alright, so let’s get started everybody. Welcome to your monthly webinar from the it documentation users group. We’ve been fighting hard looking for content for everybody. So please do feel free to participate in the conversation. Today’s presentation is how to start a process, which is a seemingly simple concept, but perhaps not so easy from what our research has shown us. So we have some special guests, and I’ll introduce them in just a moment. Real quick about it, Doug. This is a Facebook group for those who might have registered from somewhere else. We were founded in May 2018, originally, as it doc by Tracy harden, whose pictures on the screen, she runs an MSP called next century technologies. And she’s been doing that for a while. Come August 2018, she opened it up to just a more than just it glue because it was originally her way of CO learning it glue together. So we’ve had more documentation platforms, and then invited myself on board to help admin the group. It’s been growing by membership, pretty darn well, hitting 1000 3003 1000 members, and we’re certainly on target to break 4000 this year as well. The beautiful thing about more members is when you ask questions about documentation, you have more people to answer those questions. And likewise, you have more people you can converse with and create a community with. So please feel free to keep inviting. Today, we’re also going to do a giveaway for a book, The E myth revisited. Heather Max, Brian and our whole team are talking about what really goes best with a giveaway for how to start a process. And we determined that the answer was oh, we all got kind of got our inspiration for this from the E myth early in our days. And so we just had to give away that book to register to window, you need to register for the zoom. What is it called the zoom link, the zoom invite. I think Veronica is gonna post this on Facebook Live for those who are watching there. So if you’d like to, perhaps win a free book, or if you just register real quick, you can still watch on Facebook Live. Well, that will enter you into the giveaway. So we’re going to download a registration list in about 10 minutes, I’m guessing. So whoever’s registered by then Veronica can start drawing so we’re ready at the end. All right. So I’m Alan, I own a business called Eureka process. We have I have been in it since 1994. I’ve owned an MSP. I’ve sold an MSP I’ve led to others with some success. That’s why I have this passion for process and documentation because it’s it’s served me well. And I love to share. Eureka process. What my team and I are doing day in and day out is we’re consulting IT services businesses only, and their strategy and how their processes work, helping them find candidates. And we run a community site where we store a lot of our pre templated documentation and processes. Just to give you a feel I always like to know like, why should I listen to this guy? So that’s what I do on the call. We have Brian Johnson. I’m going to jump straight to his tagline all software sucks. We’re just trying to make it suck less. How do you get away with that? Brian?

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

What do you mean? How do I get away with it? It’s It’s the truth seems vulgar, but it’s true. And

 

Allen Edwards 

we all resonate. It’s the first thing I see is like Yeah, that’s true. I like these guys. So I met Brian and Heather. I believe at it nation a few years ago. Yes. Um, I’m sure Heather drove that we’ll have her bio up in a second. But I met Brian. I was like, Oh, he’s one of those coder dudes. And then I start learning more about him. We start talking to Oh, well, he’s a coder who’s also run an MSP before. No wonder his software actually addresses my needs and outlook. We’ll have a little conversation about YouTube, and our how we met in a moment. But before Heather fills me in on how I forget how we met, sometimes we had age before beauty. So now Heather Johnson is the CEO of goes into. She’s been instrumental, I think, in a lot of the knowledge bases and documentation you guys have going on as well. And you can see her history in here. So Heather, how did we meet?

 

 

Yeah, well, that’s kind of a funny story. Um, we were both in a kind of a market research group that connectwise was having for their marketplace. And it was kind of funny, because we were both in it. You had really wonderful questions, Alan, I was very impressed. So, you know, that was cool. We ended up actually walking just the same direction by chance. And I was looking at my map to kind of in my, my agenda to see where I was going next and see where Brian was. And I think you thought I was following you. So you turned around, and you said, Are you following me? And I didn’t know what to say, kind of caught me off guard. But I said, should I be following you? And then you told me who you were. And, you know, we kind of figured out that we you know, had some synergy there as far as what our companies were doing, and we’re up to. And so then we started and we’ve been, we’ve been pretty closely working together since then.

 

Allen Edwards 

Yeah. I know that though. We’re on this magic Slack channel with a bunch of vendors in the MSP space. And it’s, it’s been really great learning from each other. Then the three of us started getting together on a specific project I had, I was personally migrating from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online. And one of the things to do it right, that you really have to have as a third party integration tool to make connectwise manage sync. And I was like, Okay, I’ve got to go do this. But I’m like messing with my financials on. I’m a closet accountant. So I was comfortable with with it. But there was a lot of steps to get in the right order. And then it turns out, I had a client at the same time, who says, Yeah, you do this first, and you tell me how it’s done. So I wrote a process. And then Brian says, Hey, we need a better process. And we started working together collaborating on that process, because I can get things done, I can make it work. But Brian and Heather knew some shortcuts for their software and some requirements, their software had that if you think about it ahead of time, this makes sense. And next thing, you know, we’re working together also on making their clients more successful with QuickBooks and connect wise managing those into Mobius products. So what we wanted to share today is, so many people have difficulty starting a process, either when I work with our clients. Okay, great idea. Let’s document this decision. Go write it down. And it’s it seems to me like the simplest of tasks, but it doesn’t get done. How do we even start? And yet we have this, I don’t know, eight page document that Brian Heather and I wrote in people like, wow, you spent so much time doing that, and I conjecture that it wasn’t that much time getting it done. And so you have this blank page, how do you start? And that’s what we’re gonna have an open discussion about today. And that’s literally our entire slide deck minus the outro. Did we have a poll, Veronica, we wanted to do to kind of gauge for their audiences that

 

Veronica Dunn 

yes, we do on in the zoom, we have a poll.

 

Allen Edwards 

How does that work? Now? Oh, cool. So there is a zoom poll there for those on Facebook who can’t see it? How to start a process. The question is, which part of documenting a process Do you find the most challenging? And our options are identifying the issue? Like what do I even document, developing a solution? planning the document, starting the document, structuring the document or refining the process? A couple of results are coming in. I’ll give me just a moment more to see what else populates here. Feel free to sound off on Facebook as well. We’ll try to add them to our numbers. And since our slide deck is so boring today, we’ll get full faces in here. Alright, so the leader is starting to document perhaps our data is skewed because that’s the title of our presentation. That’s why people showed up Or perhaps it’s the other way around. That’s why it’s our presentation.

 

Veronica Dunn 

Hello, Facebook, we also had two votes for starting the document and one vote for developing a solution.

 

Allen Edwards 

So that puts it even further into the lead. Very good. Very good. So how do we start? I’m going to do this in an odd way, anybody can certainly answer in the chat or via Facebook. I’m Adam, what are your methods for starting a process, let’s go around the room real quick.

 

Adam Edwards 

My first step is crappy first draft, I just start writing a process that I know. And then I’ll get some initial steps or maybe how I want to lay out the document. And then I might actually start doing the process live, and documenting it from there, because you can plan but then when you’re doing it live, there’s a bunch of little things that pop up here and there. And I try not to add too much detail to the point where it’s like, super, super granular. Because I’ve made that mistake in the past, and you make really long documents, but only have a you know, it’s just a short process, you don’t need so many screenshots of the Save button and stuff. So I just like to start writing, and then kind of improve over time as I do the process, especially if it’s a process that I’m going to repeat again, which are the ones that are worth writing down.

 

Allen Edwards 

Let’s say, let’s say you Heather.

 

well, did anybody have an emotional reaction to seeing that blank page up there, because that blank page screen actually made me feel uncomfortable I was I was really happy to see Alan space pop back up, because I’m like that blank page, my goodness. And think that’s what we mostly go through when we’re starting anything writing a process is you have that blank page, and it does something to you, it’s like, well, you have all of this kind of negative self talk that happens, you know, just putting number one makes it no longer a blank page. So that’s what I very often do is just start with something, it can be a title, it can be just some random words. And also, I am very forgiving of my own process. I walk around a lot when I write poor Brian gets visits through that door behind him. And he always knows when I’m writing because it’s just like I’m cycling around. And I’m forgiving of that because that is my process to figure out what’s happening and what steps and how I want to want to approach it. And then, as Adam said, it’s just going through and you know what, it usually sucks the first time around, you know, just like our our motto usually sucks. But I try something and then I give it to one of our teenagers. We’re blessed with four teenagers that are our guinea pigs, and I can give something to them and see, you know, how can they follow it? Because if they can follow it, maybe maybe I maybe I have something there. And then I watch when they make that face that like, you know, looks like they’re lost. And I asked what’s happening right now what are you feeling right now and, and figure out how I can make that clear.

 

Allen Edwards 

Very cool. I definitely sense a theme starting with Let me start by backing up one more step. We have a blank page. But why don’t we open the notebook? Right? So there has to be a need, when do we need to start a process might be a great place to start. And as Adam said, am I ever going to do this again, is about my only litmus test. At least for me, like I wrote a process for my own invoicing and we have most of our stuff is just agreement, invoicing, flat fee, all you can eat. It’s not rocket science. It’s not hard. But I’ll be darned if I didn’t forget exactly which screen to go to first each time. And I’m like, Oh, no, don’t do that first, and then I got to do this. It was just four or five steps, four or five screens, click some buttons to do it. But I’d forget and I don’t like being inefficient. So I did what Adam and you suggested number one, and title invoicing. Keep it simple. If you don’t know any better, you know, bullet point one, you know, go to this screen. And Adam, you mentioned not being too detailed. Yeah, I would just remind myself I have to go to the screen then I have to close the invoices or create the invoices. I wouldn’t say click here, click there, click here. But this this is the module and this is the result and hopefully I’m trained enough for my product already. Or my PSA or my tool to be able to begin so you guys have other anybody. Other litmus test for when do you start writing?

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I’m right there with you. I mean, I’ve I’ve done the same thing I’ve read processes for myself, my processes for myself, I compete a lot less details in my processes for other people, but it’s just, you know, get down some bullets because if I don’t, I forget steps. And it’s and when it’s something for myself, I always end up doing it later than I should like, Oh, you know, I do this process once a month. And I sometimes forget to do step number two, and I jumped to step number three. And you know what I better I better make myself a wish to go through just to make sure I get it right.

 

Allen Edwards 

Allah Millan and Chet says something similar is knowing your audience, like it’s okay to write less. If you’re your own audience, you just need to remind you what’s next. It’s okay to assume that when you’re writing for your technicians, that they know how to be technicians, or they know how to use their PSA. And then you need even more detail if you’re writing for a customer who doesn’t know how much well they called you. So definitely keep your audience in mind, a great idea. And

 

 

there also is a whole whole nother use case for this I was in the I was a director of HR and my past and had the unfortunate experience where one of our employees had a stroke and immediately couldn’t come back and do her job that she’d been doing for 40 years. And trying to figure out what processes what system she used things that were just in her own head. Now we Oh, we don’t ever want to think about you know, those kind of situations, with even those processes that are just for us. Say that you’re sick for a week, and you just can’t get there. It’s nice to be able to have everything so someone can just pick up and take over for you. Or on the positive side. Sometimes companies grow really fast and all of a sudden you’re hiring and and do you want to sit down and think now what is it that I do on a daily basis? Or do you want to say here are this is what I do financial wise, take this and go. So you know, a positive and a negative of reasons why you should be documenting everything so somebody can can help you out that creating invoice process that do for myself. It’s part of our client onboarding now as well to create the invoice and I just linked the process and says, Hey, I’m too busy this week. Veronica, can you do the client onboarding for me? And I mean, everybody who’s ever done it for me had questions and we’ve improved the SAP, but they roughly knew what to do. They could chat me during a meeting, I give a quick answer for direction. And they’re often up and running.

 

Allen Edwards 

So yeah, great ideas to fill in for growth. That’s a big part of the book are giving away to is the E myth revisited is what you’re supposed to do is document what you do. And then when you grow past it and delegate it to a new hire. you hand them the process book and you can go work on the next thing and process that so you can hand it off. Very cool. Any other comments on from anybody on when to start before we move into how to start? Not yet. Allen’s being funny in the chat now Alan Miller, my wife calls that the the blonde book as as the only blonde she’s dealing with regularly. I resemble that remark. So it’s, here’s how you do the basically don’t forget. I have all sorts of blogs one day and want to go over those maybe at a next conference. Starting so I guess I was working with Brian at first when we started this QuickBooks Online migration document. Did you guys I mean, you guys hadn’t attempted that yourself first? Or was it was that I start that one.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

We, I don’t think we had put it in writing. We went through it ourselves. I did it for us some years ago when? Because we had already had Mobius for some time before we migrated from desktop on line ourselves. But we hadn’t put it in writing for anybody else.

 

 

It was on our to do list for sure. So it was very exciting when you wanted to take that on because otherwise that would have been for me.

 

Allen Edwards 

So this is perfect. Oh, why did you Why didn’t you do it sooner? It

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

is that blank? blank page.

 

Allen Edwards 

Alright, so getting started.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Yeah. I have the same problem with writing business processes as I have with programming. We had a pre discussion about this a little bit last week. And I came out of that. And I ended up writing a blog post that hasn’t quite gotten published the goes into blog yet, but it’s on its way. And it’s it’s about writing, writing business processes, how to write your business This process is like a software developer. Because it’s really this, it really can be the same process. And in both cases, when I look at that blank page or that blank screen, and in that Getting Started part is really the hardest, and I just have to get something down, I have to, I have to one, I have to know what my goal is. So that’s the, that’s the design phase. So knowing what my goal is, and then I have to just start doing some piece of any piece of it, the tiniest little piece of that, and write something. And then going back to our company motto, it’s making it subclass. keep iterating on it, you know, it’s, it’s okay, you know, I have three bullets of, you know, log into QuickBooks log into Connect wise, run sync, and see what happens. Okay, maybe that’s for. But then it’s okay. So now I do those steps and and see how it works? And what else did I need to know and what else is missing? And then start filling in details and then go through it again, and fill in some more details, and then have somebody else do it and tell me what they missed? And, and that’s, I mean, that’s what what we’re doing with code all the time we do, we do unit testing, which is very small, fine grained testing of that little piece of code that we’re writing. And then we do integration testing, where we’re testing that piece of code with other pieces of code. And then we do we have a nother person, review our code and test it and make sure that that works. And so we can then eventually, we get it out to customers as a beta test, and as a cut out customers out as a release. And we find errors at every step of that process. And hopefully fewer and fewer make it to release. But no software companies perfect. Every software company releases software with some bugs in it and you have customers report those bugs, and then you have to cycle that into your process and make new releases to fix them.

 

Allen Edwards 

So everything you just said change the word code to document the process. Right? Yeah, that makes sense. What’s funny, this could have been a slide of the bullet points, except we’re actually discovering these bullet points during the conversation. So as I started hearing bullet points, here’s what I heard. Step one, know your audience. Step two, know your goal. It’s definitely much harder to look at that blank page, if you don’t know what you’re writing. If I was trying to write a fiction book, that blank pages they blank for a while. But what I know that, hey, I’m doing a QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online migration. So my goal is to have my QuickBooks Online, look the way I want it to with all of my data from QuickBooks desktop. Alright. And then I or maybe goals first, then audience. And goals.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Yeah, I would, I would actually push audience down a little waves. Because, again, everybody said, overwhelmingly, people have said, the blank page is the worst part. Right? Get over that blank page, don’t worry about your audience yet. Just Just start to document the process, then, okay, who’s my audience for this and incorporate that into your process in in one of your iterations as you go, but get past that blank page? You know, even even if you don’t have the design, right, that’s okay. We’ll get something down. And then you can iterate on it and get through it.

 

Allen Edwards 

I have this. I don’t participate on social media as much as I used to. Because there’s, I mean, remember, I posted a personal picture on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and I think Veronica was on the phone with me. And she heard me cursing said, What are you waiting for is like, people are liking my posts. And it’s thinking at me and like, is no is supposed to happen. Is that okay? Well, that’s why I don’t do it. But so I occasionally we’ll will offer advice when I when I feel like I have something to add to the conversation and the various Facebook forums. And somebody asked the question, like, I just can’t get my processes going. I know I need to do it. I see the value. Um, I just, I can’t begin. It’s me. Any advice? And I made in this much size where you have to give advice that affects people’s lives and little tiny box, and I hate typing. The advice to do it, even if it’s wrong? Yeah. And the first comment I got back is You idiot. What do you mean, even if it’s wrong, that’s the dumbest thing ever. You know, and I’m pretty good at not getting riled up, which rally people up, by the way. And my comment back is like, hey, you’re right. There is a certain assumption of self preservation here. But wrong is absolutely better than the page being blank still. And at that point, you’re ready. Little poster, and three or four other people said came back like, Oh, my gosh, this is revolutionary. Because one more thing I do when I facilitate meetings, there’s always ideas coming from the room or from the zoom chat, right? And they’re roughly aligned, but they’re different. And there’s all these opinions and people’s feelings. I then write down what I heard. And what happens is I get it just wrong enough that somebody says, No, that’s wrong. This is what it should be, like, ah, problem solved. But when the page is blank, no one’s ready to start writing to make a decision on what it should be making it wrong, gives you something to fix, and we love fixing stuff.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Yeah.

 

 

And the process is, is going to be wrong at times, you could get the process refined and something happens. And it’s wrong. Again, it’s a living document, you have to keep checking in and nurturing it. Because it’s, it’s going to change, the process is going to change. And so you just have to keep going with that.

 

Allen Edwards 

So we’ve also mentioned ways to start several times here, and I kind of hear the same thing, which is, yeah, it totally sucks to stop and write documentation. In fact, I wouldn’t do it. However, when you’re doing the task, I would make notes in my blank page about what I’m doing. So when we wanted to do the migration, I was like, Okay, I need to do the migration. What do I do? Like, you know, step one, you know, why QuickBooks Online? Let me write that down into why QuickBooks Online? You know, step two, you know, by goes into Mobius. Alright, get that done.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

That’s the, that’s the most important step. Yes, the star next to that one.

 

Allen Edwards 

Yeah, and I just whatever it is, I had to go figure out, I look around, I’ll do some research, like, Oh, I need to do that. Now. Maybe it was print out a report to make sure my data didn’t change. Okay, print out report. So and then there’s stuff that I forgot. But when I did it the second time for one of my clients, I added those steps. So I guess the lesson there is you’re right, don’t stop and just document as you should be documenting as you go.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Oh, and since you wrote that procedure, we’ve we’ve edited it, at least a couple of times. And it hasn’t been that long. Because either there was a step somebody got stuck on and they they needed some help on it. Or we realized, Oh, you know what this part could be, it’s actually a little easier if you do it this way. Or what I don’t remember the exact that’s we made, but I know we’ve made a couple of edits to it since then, because it this, this always needs to be refined, you know, again, going back to programming, you know, if we and and anybody who deals with software knows this, if you have a piece of software, and it’s really old, it doesn’t work well anymore, because you know, it doesn’t run on the current version of Windows, or it doesn’t work with some online service that it connects to, or whatever it is, it’s very rare to have that piece of software that stays working well for decades, right? processes are the same, you’ve got to go back and you have to do updates to them, you have to get your updates to your software, you have to get your updates to your processes.

 

Allen Edwards 

That’s actually a process that I have a really horrible acronym for, we just came up with it because it had the right number of consonant vowels, called RF, IP, RF IP read, follow, improve the process. So anything you’re doing in a business that’s repeatable, you should be reading a process first, following it, and then improving it as you go. If you’re using a documentation platform, as soon as I opened it, I usually thought straight to edit mode, allow me to make edits as I go, because they almost always happen. So what some feedback I get on that as I still have clients who are afraid to allow their people to edit processes. Maybe it’s a tier one tech following a tier three process, you know, something that they can do if they follow the script. But they might not know what to do if it goes wrong. So they don’t want them editing the process. What are your guys’s thoughts about that?

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

My preferred process would go again, and follow our coding process. Any change that somebody makes, to our code goes through code review. So it always gets a second set of eyes that looks at it and approves it. And now that would be my my preferred process with with processes as well. I mean, code is a process. It’s a process that a computer follows. So yeah, you’re getting a second set of eyes on things and and then being able to comment on it work together on it. two heads is better than one, and then approve it before it goes live.

 

Allen Edwards 

Yeah, I’m a little more laissez faire about it. And I think it might have to do with just the demographic demographic of clients I tend to work with, if there’s a very high maturity level, a huge separation and the knowledge of tax, that might can make sense to do it that way. But so many of my clients are struggling just to get their initial book of documentation or to use it like medicine, I rather them edit it. And trust that there is some self preservation in there. When they’re following things like, you know, the old trick is, when you read a advice online, it says format, C Drive, which nobody ever runs that anymore, but will they follow it blindly? So hopefully, you have the right knowledge to follow that and properly?

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Well, and it’s it’s just like what we’ve said about getting started, right? Don’t let having a good review procedure, get in the way of having documentation, you know, don’t let it if your system doesn’t allow that, okay, don’t do that part. I mean, we don’t, for all of our internal processes. We’re not at that point yet, where we’re doing code review on our business processes. We’re doing it for our code, but we’re not doing it for our business processes. However, you know, we’re using Confluence internally, and people see the changes. So it’s after the fact you see when somebody made a change, and you can say, Oh, you know, what, I think that changed was wrong. And maybe nobody sees that change until the next time they go and do the process. But we’re also a team of, you know, pretty skilled people, we don’t have any real low level one people. So so there’s a, there’s a lesser risk there. It’s also going to depend on, you know, how critical the process is how critical it is to get right. You know, if you’re running a nuclear power plant versus doing your QuickBooks Online conversion. It’s, there’s, there’s a difference there.

 

Allen Edwards 

But what’s funny is our latest client does do stuff for nuclear power plants, and we’re like, Okay, we got to make sure our i’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed, and maybe even the Jays are not into

 

 

Elon, you know, going back to the blank page syndrome. I, maybe we can go around and talk about ways we can also get over that. Because I mean, essentially, we just said get started. But sometimes that’s a lot as well, my and and now this is the big secret that that people are going to know but but my office is very loud when I do a process because I actually kind of talk to myself. Okay, I’m going to click this button over here. And that brings me to this screen and I talk through all of it. That works for me, does anybody have other things that work for them instead of you know, and maybe it is that you just type out what you’re doing? But are there are there things that that people do that might help with the just starting?

 

Allen Edwards 

I think for me, all of my process seem I don’t want to say technical, but I will say tactical. I’m also writing a book, it’s and nonfiction about what we do and how to improve business. And that’s a lot harder to write. Because I’m trying to do this other little nuances and invent some some verbiage and from from scratch. But when it comes to how to get something done a process to follow in our business. I literally just do it, I have my two screens opens maybe two screens is one of those techniques or tips. I do it, I write it, I do it, I write it, I do it, I write it. And it, it only bloats my time entry about 10%. I mean for all those people complaining about putting in your ticket notes. That’s the type of documentation. Right? Right, what you’re doing. In fact, sometimes let’s say, like, oh, in the QuickBooks Online migration, I’m using this tool called SAS and to massage data and it takes 15 minutes. But while that’s happening, I’m actually writing my next intended steps into the process. And then when it’s done, I go follow the steps and see if I have to make tweaks. So a little like, give and take, but it’s because it’s so tactical, and it’s it’s pretty well defined, I think. Do other Veronica Adam, when you guys are writing processes for us Did you have How do you overcome that blank page.

 

Adam Edwards 

I’m probably from like ticket no standpoint, whether I was coaching my missions on how to write to notes, or I was doing it myself, there would always be whatever was wrong, you know what I did to fix it and what the next steps were. And then if there’s any action items for the client in turnover time entry. But if it was a process that I’m writing I’m thinking about that is, what am I trying to fix? So there’s my goal. And I have some type of issue that that I, I’m motivated to fix. And then in terms of time entries, I’m writing it down. Because the next person that goes and looks at that time entry to figure out how I fix that issue might be me. I might go look back at it in six months and be like, what did I do? What am I people think of it as like, oh, help the person behind you. But I’m, I’m I like to write it as if it was going to be me looking back on it and wanting that information. But that’s always like helped me make sure that I was including everything that I absolutely needed.

 

Allen Edwards 

I mean, heck, for technical SNPs, I will copy and paste my work dumps into the sap. Alright, let’s start. Right? Could you have one I know you write different types of processes.

 

Veronica Dunn 

Um, I typically start with an outline. I just I know the general bullet points that I want to have down. And then I will work through through the process filling that in. I work best with putting a structure there to get started.

 

Allen Edwards 

And do you ever have a process where the outlines all you need? Yeah, yeah. So it doesn’t have to be complicated doesn’t have to be long. And Heck, we’ve already said doesn’t have to be right. Make it easier and easier? Yeah.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

A lot of this comes down to it’s the old, you know, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

 

Allen Edwards 

Perfection. of progress. Yeah. And

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I think that’s my biggest blocker, when I’m looking at a blank page or trying, you know,

 

 

just

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

Alright, put something down. I’m getting better. I’m getting better at it. I did two blog posts this week. And I usually takes me a month of procrastinating to get down to get a blog post out. So it’s, it’s working?

 

 

Well, it’s good. That, you know, an Alan Miller had mentioned on there about knowing your audience, and when you’re kind of trying to speak to the audience and actually imagining them there. And then, you know, making a blog post or making a procedure when you’re actually thinking about, okay, who is that person? Not just you know, like, imagine who that person is? And how would you explain something to them? How would you present something to them? And that’s kind of always been the way I’ve, I’ve done it is, is? Okay, so this is the person that’s going to be reading it somebody that’s for our knowledge base articles, and I think we have about 400 of them. You know, what, what does this person know already? And I try to imagine our customers because we talk to our customers all the time. And I’m friends with many, many of them. And I think, Okay, how would I? How would I explain it to Patti? What what would work with her? How would she really get this? And am I saying, am I saying the right things? Am I saying too much so, and kind of keeping that as an imaginary conversation that seems to keep that that blank page syndrome away? Because when you’re assisting a customer, you can’t just be like, well, I don’t know. You have to have answers. You have to say, Okay, this is how I do it. If you’re training an employee, you can’t just say, Well, I don’t know what I do. Imagine that employee and say, Okay, so first step is I click this button over here, because it does this and then go through it that way, when you’re actually imagining that person next to you.

 

Allen Edwards 

You know, that made me think of the next logical step from that advice, which is actually teach someone how to do this, right. I mean, obviously, that’s not as efficient on time if you have two people involved, but if it helps you get the juices flowing, and it’s what’s needed. So be it. I know, like, even though we’re recording blog post sometimes and some people get clammed up on the camera. I hate talking to a camera, I’d rather talk to you guys. So I’ve done before, okay, we’re gonna step in, and I’m gonna interview somebody. And then their answers become the blog post, the video blog post or the written posts, because it becomes more conversational reuse. Some of us are better at communicating that way. Versus in writing. So yeah, change the communication style as well.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I kind of take that from the the opposite approach. If I want to make sure that we’re doing a good job on on processes about something. I try to communicate through the process. So we’re onboarding a new employee. I need them to know these things. They asked me a question rather Then answering their question, I update the process and send them the update. So that way I know I’m getting the things that I need to get into the process. And and I talked to the process instead of talking to them

 

Allen Edwards 

if the process exists, absolutely. As part of RFM, refile improve the process, any question that’s answered, your process should answer.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

If the process doesn’t exist there, there have been cases where it’s like, rather than answering your question, I’m going to do a very rough draft of the process in our Confluence and send send you that page. And then let me know what questions you have. And let’s let’s work through

 

Allen Edwards 

it, which improves the process. Great. I was even gonna add if you’re teaching someone, depending on who has availability and time, I’ve done stuff where it’s just you. I remember onboarding Veronica, I had some some marketing processes, and she’s kind of like, what is this crap? You can follow this, but at least reminded me of what it is to teach. And I’ll say, okay, Veronica, take notes on what we’re doing, as she was creating the process for the whole company. So that that’s been helpful as well. So you can delegate the writing, while you’re teaching as well, depending on availability. I’m kind of building a small outline of this conversation to see if we can build this into a single deliverable at the end. I didn’t even have this in the plan. This is how it’s going.

 

 

You know, and that, Brian, that what you just brought up? Because I didn’t think about that before. Very often, I will say to Brian, how do you do this? And then he makes it into a process. I mean, why say to the person directly, and still not have a process, take those opportunities, when somebody asks you have to do it instead of telling them and then the next time telling them again, make it into a process? And then just direct them to it? Because there there certainly have been times I said, Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know there was a process for that. And he said, I just created the process. So no, there wasn’t when you asked, so that’s a great way of trying to, you know, keep on top of it, and and not having to answer those questions multiple times.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I guess, I guess, you know, from from where we’re at. It, I guess it kind of helps that we’re a remote company. So most of our communication is happening in writing anyway, most of our communications happening in slack. So if I’m going to type out an answer to somebody in Slack, it’s really not any more work to type it out in Confluence and send them the link, and then we have it.

 

Allen Edwards 

Right. Going back to blank paysinger, don’t forget, we talked about step one, know your goal. however you define your goal, that give me your title, and a title is a little better than a blank page still. Or you can even ask the question, How do I send invoices? Alright, step one. Now you have an answer. Because you just got to be a smart guy and answered or smart gal and answer answer that question. Very cool. I’m gonna, we can keep chatting, I want to share my screen. I have a notepad up of what I’ve got so far. So guess what, guys? We did it live. I wrote down what we’re doing. I started a process today of how to start a process. That’s something I totally do. Now we’re going to read it, then we’re going to improve the process while we’re following it. So step one, bigger goal. Step two, start. Even if it’s wrong, we talked about imagine teaching someone as a one way to get there actually teach someone or teach someone and delegate the writing task to them. Were there other specific goals? I guess it was do it document why you’re doing it, right? Yeah, yeah. I have 1000 words per minute, but it’s all backspace keys.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

If I just Keith asked on Facebook about culture review with documentation, instead of code review. When we do a code review, we have several things we’re looking at in the code review, you know, we’re looking at is the code style is the layout of it. The way we want it to be, are we looking for, you know, readability we’re looking for, does it execute properly? Is there techniques that we can do differently? I think all of those things kind of apply to, to process review as well, you know, is is the process in the structure that we like to use if we if we like to use a template or something like that. And what else did I say? Um, you know, are there techniques that we could use to make this process more efficient, so Again now that can be that can be the same with with code or with with a process a, is there a way that we can do this in less steps? And let’s apply that. And then I think, you know, your culture does does the process fit with your workflow and culture is what Keith asked. And I think that can be one of those checkboxes, you know, does it fit with everything else we’re doing. And and that’s part of your review process, it’s, I don’t know that it’s a different review. It’s it just, it’s one of the steps in your review.

 

 

One of the things that we do on our side, as far as far as our knowledgebase articles and making our processes there is is that goes into, we really focus everything around empathy, empathy for our customers, empathy for each other. So all of our workflow we do, when we look at our process use, we look and we say, have we in encompass and incorporated empathy and every step of what we’re doing? So, so that that is I think, how we bring the culture and the workflow and make sure that that’s working, and then listening to what what people are seeing when we see a customer that’s struggling with a process that we have for one of our products, and it’s time to look back, talk to them and see, you know, what is working? What isn’t? How can we be empathetic to what their needs are?

 

Allen Edwards 

culture is a big scary word, because culture to me means everything else. Yeah, every behavior, every thought, every emotion, every process that’s happening, it’s not in writing, his culture, and everything that isn’t writing is contributing toward culture. So that’s a great question, Keith, I do feel like it’s a very advanced topic. And those things match. One minor tip that that’s kind of related based on what you guys said and keeps question, I do review our documentation with our team. And the reason is partly because of that whole culture fit as a fit or attitude or methodologies. So for example, many documentation systems either have a reporting log, what’s been updated, or can communicate to a slack or team’s channel, um, and during our meetings every week, I will pull that channel up, it’s okay. Here’s the documents that change, please raise your hand if you if you were the one who updated it and would like to tell us about it? Or if you have a question about it. So we don’t always have time to review every process every week has changed, which is why we don’t do them all. But somebody can say, Whoa, whoa, whoa, I see somebody changed the Active Directory user creation script. Oh, what is that about? Because I wrote that. And they stop and they review it real quick together and get on the same page. For things like that, it puts what’s changed up to the front, keeping that in front of culture. So if you do have questions, why don’t we get them next, we’re short on time. I wanted to add two things. And this is kind of a strong statement. In my mind, especially in the IT services, business, probably all businesses, there are only two types of failures. Failure to two types of employee failures, Failure to follow my process, or failure to live up to your core values. And if your core values aren’t in writing, it’s hard for them to fail. The certainly morality causes a guess. And if you don’t have a written process, it’s really difficult to hold them accountable to that as well. So whenever I see, you know, a ticket went wrong, a sale went wrong, whatever the case is, I look back and say, Hey, if you follow the process, yes, what’s wrong with the process? And they go fix that. And what’s cool about the culture piece of that, is we’re no longer talking about how Mary Jane did a bad job. say, Oh, hey, Mary Jane, we had a problem with this ticket. Let’s go over the process together and see what we can make better. So now it’s teamwork versus adversarial. And that’s an also, both of those things together, along with the communicating through the process that Brian mentioned, creates a culture of documentation and process as well. Because every answer we have is, hey, let’s look at our documentation. Oh, something’s going wrong. Let’s look at our process in our documentation system, and people begin to naturally want to read follow improve the process on iterating because that’s how the team works best together.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I just throw in I mean, there’s there’s no one right way to do any of this. You know? Yeah, I wouldn’t. I have said some things that are that are a little bit opposite each other. But they both were. It’s It’s It’s finding it’s it goes back to what we’ve been saying. All along, though. It’s getting started with something, do something, see what works and what doesn’t work, test it and improve.

 

Allen Edwards 

So if you’re, if you’re still having trouble starting your process, since that’s the title of the presentation, we have to wrap up now. Then you’re either aiming for perfection, and you shouldn’t be, or you don’t know your goal. That’s kind of how I see it. Do you have Final Thoughts? Heather?

 

 

Yeah, I just think tackling it, you know, put some time aside, you know, make yourself just make yourself do it. block out some time in your calendar. You know, that’s always our brain always comes up with excuses, when it doesn’t want to do something, you know, we can come up with a whole bunch of, I eat a big lunch. I can’t write a process. You know, like, I mean, I can’t think of how many things you said about why you can’t start a process. set time aside in your calendar, you know, put two hours, I’m gonna write three processes today. And do it, you know, do it. Don’t Don’t leave until you get that done. And imagine how great you’re going to feel to have three done, you know, it’s it has to happen, you know, set a little goal at the end, maybe it’s a bowl of ice cream at the end. That’s how I get my kids to do things, you know. So, you know, reward yourself with something at the end, but it doesn’t end the to the time doesn’t end till you get that done. So that’s what I would say, you know, be strict with yourself, because you can certainly do it.

 

Allen Edwards 

Yeah, Allen’s picking up on Alan Miller’s picking on how wrong my stuff is to see I got it in writing. I got it wrong. And now people want to correct me which is perfect. Mission accomplished. Um, I will expand this before I publish it. Or if it means read following through in the process. Good catch, though. Who knows? I’m gonna get lazy. Brian, any final thoughts before we do our door prize drawing?

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I don’t know. I think we’ve covered it. I had some thoughts of a moment ago. And then I started listening to you again, it forgot what I was what my previous office.

 

Allen Edwards 

I make people go numb when I tell I get it all the time.

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

I could repeat myself some more. But I

 

Allen Edwards 

Alright, Veronica, do we have a winner on our door prize?

 

Veronica Dunn 

I yes. spinning the wheel. Paul, copy us. All right,

 

Allen Edwards 

Paul. Congratulations. Veronica will reach out to you via your email address that we have registration. In

 

Brian (Gozynta) 

here in the chat. He didn’t obviously.

 

Allen Edwards 

Yay. Paul is here. I don’t know if we have time. Yeah, we have time. Paul, have you read this book yet? See if he responds fast enough in the chat. Because we can always send an alternate because the email is pretty well read book. But if you haven’t, definitely worth the read. I’ll have to want to get re on air for a phrase a big process, like I just gave away t wave as well. So Brian, Heather, thank you very much for joining me, I should probably pull up the rest of this presentation, which there’s not a whole lot to it. Um, so I know we weren’t here to pitch go zensah. But I do appreciate you guys joining us. their contact information is on the screen. They have a wonderful product for connecting your finances and connect wise managed to just magically appear in QuickBooks Online for you. I personally use it and I recommend it. They also have a ticketing via text message. If you’re if you’re having trouble getting ahold of your clients, and they just respond better to text messages or a few of them do, you can still keep that conversation inside of connectwise manage using their tics product. So do check it out. It goes into comm both products are listed there. And their other contact information is up there. We’re at Eureka process calm, I’m sure we’re pretty easy to find. And we’re gonna do some more fun new content. Next month in July. For our next it dog. Brooke who is actually busy on site at a client right now. She couldn’t make today, she is going to be presenting on on site work versus work from home versus a combination what’s actually happening, we are working with a couple dozen clients, their policies are all across the board. She’s also doing all of our vScreeninng and recruiting for IT services. So she’s seeing what the preferences are, what’s working, what’s not working, what personality types work with which she’s looking forward to sharing that information with all of you guys. So this is not something we ever presented on before that we don’t have precompiled and she’s bringing all of that experience into a place to deliver it to you next. I’m looking forward to it. So guys, thank you for joining Brian. Heather. Thank you so much, Adam. Thanks for contributing Veronica, thanks for making all of this stuff happen so that I can just fly from one appointment this into my next appointment. I appreciate that very much. And thank all of you who are watching live or watching recorded and who joined the events and participated. Thanks, guys.

IT-what??

ITDUG is a Facebook group for sharing tips and tricks for documenting IT systems using any documentation platform. Recommended for IT Service providers, including internal IT departments.

The group originated by Tracy Hardin, IT/MSP owner in 2018 to co-learn ITGlue​ and later adapted it into a forum for all IT documentation platforms. Shortly thereafter, Eureka Process joined as co-admins. ITDUG now has over 3000 members and growing!

Team Eureka contributes a documentation-related webinar on the last Wednesday of every month. You can watch previous ITDUG webinars here.

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