What is operational documentation?

Operational documentation is the written details necessary to run your business but not your projects. Examples include onboarding processes, company policies, and documentation of internal tools. Operational documentation is relevant for the vast majority of people in the company. You can think of it as the employee handbook.

Is your company concerned?

Ideally, documentation is made right when your company begins. Early-stage founders often hide behind other challenges they face, but documentation is crucial for the company's long-term survival.

Founders (and other senior profiles) typically lose valuable time answering repetitive questions and executing trivial tasks that — if documented — can be delegated which reduces the workload.

Operational document tremendously improves overall alignment. It avoids information loss because it makes volatile knowledge permanently available inside the company. There is now a source of truth when someone hears conflicting information.

Companies with insufficient documentation have no paper trail of decisions that have been made. This can lead to conflicting or recurring discussions and growing frustrations. By using multiple communication channels, information is scattered across different tools and platforms.

In the short term, this will lead to frustration and lower overall performance of employees. In the long term, these annoyances might cause the employee to make errors or, even worse, result in them leaving the company. When people decide to leave, there is also a risk of critical knowledge leaving the company.

When expanding the team, operational documentation expedites onboarding. Instead of using meetings to communicate information, a reference can be sent. The person joining will have all the information at their fingertips without interrupting people who are focused on their work.

So carve out some time to write things down, especially the non-technical stuff. This will allow your team to grow and to become more independent. When you are a busy founder, an employee handbook is more important than you think.