When we started a large documentation project a few years ago, the tool I reached for was a spreadsheet. We needed a master list of our documents and a way to track them through development. Some documents were completed in a straight-forward manner, passing from writer to editor to final editor to client rather quickly. Other documents got passed back and forth between writer and editor multiple times, only to get bounced back to the writer by the final editor.

Each document, and the steps it went through, were recorded on the spreadsheet. By the end of the project, that spreadsheet was huge and – as much as I love spreadsheets – I had come to realize that it was not the best tool for such an undertaking. With another large documentation project on the horizon, it was time to look at our own processes to see what could be done to improve efficiency.

I dove into the spreadsheet and started extracting data about our completion times: not good news. Documents were often getting overlooked – stuck at some point in the process due to overlooked emails or missed instant messages. Not only that, our manual process – that gigantic spreadsheet – also prevented me from quickly gathering metrics. #tedious.

We began a search for a product we could use to build a custom workflow. What we found was KiSSFLOW, a Google App created by OrangeScape Technologies. KiSSFLOW allowed us to build the workflow we needed, integrating seamlessly with our new documentation platform, Google Drive.

We jumped into KiSSFLOW and began testing different workflow constructions. What we discovered blew us away. We were able to track all of our steps, not just some of them, and we were able to be much more accurate in our data collection. So we launched the KiSSFLOW-based process with our new documentation project.

After using the new process for a few months, it was time to look at the metrics and see how we were doing. Remember that clunky spreadsheet from which I had to manually cull information? That was a thing of the past. Now, I could run a report and have the data delivered to my Google Drive with just a few clicks. And what did the data show? A remarkable increase in our efficiency! Documents were no longer getting overlooked. Thanks to our new automated process, our excellent documentation was being delivered in a timely manner, and we had the metrics to prove it.

Our experience using KiSSFLOW was so positive, we teamed up with OrangeScape to present a webinar about automating business processes, which is available online: http://kissflow.com/kissu_kissu/webinar-video-why-automate-workflows/. In the webinar, I discussed the benefits to workflow process analysis and automation. I also delved into our own experiences automating our documentation process – colorful graphs included! Because of time constraints for the webinar, I had to leave out a whole bunch of material. I’ll be sharing that here over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

I still love a good spreadsheet but when it comes to our documentation, there’s a better way now. It’s the KiSSFLOW way – Keeping it Simple and Smart.