Building Superuser Programs That Succeed

Internal Documentation

Having clearly documented processes and guidelines is important regardless of the size of your program, but it’s ok to start small and build on things as you scale.

Having a clear program objective and structure with basic documentation should be your baseline. If you only have 10 or 15 members then that documentation and structure can be casual. It’s easy to keep tabs on and communicate with a small number of members, and they can help you to define your program as you test and iterate. Your relationship with each individual will likely be strong and heavily trust based.

Download our handy documentation checklist

As your program scales, it will become more important to formally document your whole program so that you can keep control of your members, your processes and your brand messaging. As well as protecting yourself and your members, your documentation will support easy staff handovers and future scalability. You may have multiple staff members or even teams working on the program, so clear guidelines and processes will become fundamental to success.

Here are the things that you should consider documenting for internal use:

  • Program objective
  • Member roles and responsibilities
  • Benefits
  • Code of Conduct
  • Training material
  • Term and reapplication process if applicable


As well as these baseline documents, here are some other things to consider:

  • If members will have access to product knowledge or other proprietary information before it is made public, ensure that they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
  • If people outside of the organization will be writing content for you, it’s important to have a style or tone guide. Continuity of voice and appropriate representation of your brand standards need to be closely maintained. How casual is your language? Do you speak in the first or third person? Do you use gender-neutral pronouns?
  • Will members be administering or moderating your forums or social media accounts? Make sure they have clearly documented guidelines and escalation processes.
  • If product advocacy or support is part of your program, members will need product documentation available so that they are equipped to answer technical or product specific questions which fall outside of their general knowledge.
  • Consider documenting your disciplinary or removal processes so that you have them to fall back on if someone isn’t following guidelines or pulling their weight. If a member is behaving publicly in a way that could damage your brand it will be much less awkward to deal with if you have formal procedures put in place.
  • If you have access to legal resources, run your documentation by them for approval before posting them publicly. Make sure your back is covered in case things go wrong down the line.
  • If you plan to scale your community by entering other countries, consider writing a playbook. Think about the types of things that would be useful for someone that is trying to replicate what you have done.
    • What were the key success factors in the early days?
    • What are the definitive traits in highly successful members?
    • What red flags should you look out for?
    • Which invitation email templates had the highest open rates?
    • How do you ensure consistency and maintain quality when you grow?

Summary

  1. If your program is small, it’s ok to have casual documentation that you refine as you scale.
  2. Documentation ensures that you have control, and protects both the organization and the program members.
  3. For large programs, write a playbook that you build on as you grow and learn.

Chapters

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