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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Best Tools for Documenting Systems Amongst Your Team

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Best Tools for Documenting Systems Amongst Your Team

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What is your favorite software or tool for documenting systems for your team and why?

1. Asana

Blake Miller

    Asana is great because it’s so versatile. Not only is it great for project management, but also you can use it to create checklist-oriented task lists. For instance, at Think Big Accelerator, we use an Asana organization with multiple projects that we share with new startups. It’s called the Playbook and meant to serve as a guide for entrepreneurs from idea to the first customer.
    Blake Miller, Think Big Partners

    2. Courseroute and Camtasia

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    allie siarto

      We’re a small team (five people), so we wanted to build out a really simple platform to record and share screencasts and documents around our company processes. We’ve recorded all of our major day-to-day processes using Camtasia screen recording, and we host the videos and documents on Courseroute, a simple training platform that we built. The beta version will be open to the public soon.
      Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

      3. Basecamp

      Fabian Kaempfer

        We like to keep everything in one place. We use Basecamp as our project management tool for almost everything we do. By using this, we are able to document systems in the appropriate project and refer to it by link if it’s associated with a certain task somewhere else. Having to switch and log into several platforms is a time-waster for us. We like to be efficient, and Basecamp is how we get it done.
        Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

        4. GitHub

        phil-chen

          Being a technology company with a small team, GitHub allows us both documentation of our systems as well as documentation of our code base in a way we are familiar with. The revision control aspect is very useful to see what has changed and when.
          Phil Chen, Givit

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          5. DocSTAR

          Andrew Schrage

            Use the software offered by DocSTAR. It offers cloud-based document management services and data capture, and it can improve overall business workflow.
            Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

             

            6. Evernote

            Thursday-Bram 2

              With the advent of Evernote for business, I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool for documenting systems and sharing the information with my team. Even better, I can clip an article and turn it into a process to follow very quickly if we want to try something new.
              Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

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              7. Streak

              doreen-bloch

                Streak has been a great tool for our team to document a variety of workflows. The tool lives right within our email accounts (where we spend a great amount of time), which is very useful. Streak has many pipelines that can be built and then shared with select team members. Whether it’s sales, bug tracking or customer service processes, Streak maintains the workflows and encourages collaboration.
                Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

                8. Flow

                Phil Dumontet

                  Flow is my favorite task management tool. It holds everyone on my team accountable to what they say they’re going to do and allows your task lists to be private or public. The private lists are key for information control; these let me collaborate on high-level, sensitive projects with the people I choose.
                  Phil Dumontet, DASHED

                  9. Lucidchart

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                  Robby Hill

                    Lucidchart is an HTML5 app accessible from all major platforms and has some team collaboration features as you’re documenting processes and building out very complex diagrams. We use it because some people are on Mac, iPad and Windows, and the service/app works across all of those devices, helping us convey a message with a nice looking graphical chart.
                    Robby Hill, HillSouth

                    10. Google Docs

                    Erin Blaskie

                      We use many project management tools including Basecamp, Evernote and Asana, but what we find works best for documenting systems is Google Docs. The reason? It’s simply the best at keeping one version of a document, and you can organize all the documents into helpful folders. Combine that with the commenting functionality, and you have a streamlined way to document processes and systems.
                      Erin Blaskie, Erin Blaskie Digital Strategist

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                      Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                      How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

                      How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

                      Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

                      But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

                      The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

                      Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

                      But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

                      As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

                      Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

                      There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

                      The four most popular types of learning styles are:

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                      • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
                      • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
                      • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
                      • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

                      But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

                      How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

                      When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

                      I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

                      Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

                      However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

                      Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

                      While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

                      Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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                      By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

                      How to Use Visual Learning for Success

                      Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

                      1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

                      We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

                      While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

                      I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

                      2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

                      Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

                      Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

                      As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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                      And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

                      3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

                      Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

                      With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

                      Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

                      It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

                      Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

                      Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

                      4. Add video streaming to meetings.

                      What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

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                      When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

                      For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

                      Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

                      No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

                      You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

                      The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

                      More About Learning Styles

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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