Business Process Documentation

Many years ago I was asked by someone to assist them on what they were calling a “Universal Business Model” (UBM). In response, I showed that person what I do, and suggested they do something similar. What I showed them was basically a collaboration tool built from a Wiki, and I even sat with them and set one up for them, and helped them get started using it for their UBM effort.

We’ve used a Wiki for more than a dozen years now to document our business processes. Until very recently, we used the Wiki that came with Mac OS X Server. We would buy a Mac mini from the Apple Store, preconfigured with Mac OS X Server already installed. Then we would just plug it in, turn it on, and start using the built-in Wiki.

It is an excellent collaboration tool, but primitive by today’s standards. The primitiveness of the approach, together with the fact that about two years ago the software was discontinued by Apple meant that I needed to replace it soon. I believe I have found a suitable replacement tool. It is called “Confluence” from Atlassian Corporation.

In the beginning of Bountiful Baby we ran all of our own servers. That included our own website server, our own email server, our own Wiki server, and even our own DNS server. The only thing we depended on anybody else for was an Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) pipe to the internet, and even that was replaceable. We did everything ourselves. But we’ve never wanted to be in the business of operating our own servers, and one-by-one those servers have been targeted for cloud replacement, and have been turned off.

As most of you are aware, in 2018 we discontinued our own website server and replaced it with Shopify. Shopify is a public company that currently has a market capitalization approximately the same as IBM. In other words, Shopify is BIG, and they are not going away any time soon.

Similarly, Atlassian is BIG. It is a public company with yearly revenues of over $1.2 billion, and a market capitalization of over $43 billion. Many thousands of large companies use Confluence (from Atlassian), including Facebook, Netflix, Lyft, LinkedIn, and many others, for at least some of their internal collaboration needs. They are also not going away any time soon.

If you use Shopify, you are tying a mission-critical part of your business to an outside business (Shopify).

If you use Confluence, you are tying a mission-critical part of your business to an outside business (Atlassian).

Any time your business depends on another business for a mission-critical process, you have a potential point of failure where your company can die if another company does not perform. It is a situation where that external company can exercise control over your future, so you need to consider those types of associations very carefully. You need to think of those associations like PARTNERSHIPS, because that is exactly what they are.

You absolutely CANNOT tie your website to some random college kid that came to you and offered to create it and support it. Similarly you cannot depend on some random Google search hit for selecting your tools. You must carefully vet everything, realizing the partnerships you are creating in the process.

I recommend Shopify for your website. And I recommend Confluence for your internal documentation needs.