How Ginkgo Residential Leveled up Its Employee Knowledge with Effective Business Process Documentation

Last Updated on December 2, 2020 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

How Ginkgo Residential Leveled up Its Employee Knowledge with Effective Business Process Documentation


The portfolio analytics manager at Ginkgo Residential, Sarah Genay, was tasked with overseeing the documentation of business processes at the company. Their goal was to streamline their workflow and enhance employee efficiency, but there was only so much they could achieve with PDF manuals. Keeping the manuals up to date with the latest processes in their organization was a challenge. Sarah soon realized that they needed a more effective system to get the job done and then she began searching for the right system. She picked SweetProcess after trying out several options on the market, and they were able to synchronize their processes in one fold. Before we proceed, let us find out more about the organization. 

Sarah Genay, Portfolio Analytics Manager at Ginkgo Residential
Sarah Genay, Portfolio Analytics Manager at Ginkgo Residential

About Ginkgo Residential

Ginkgo Residential is a real estate company that offers energy-efficient and environmentally friendly housing at affordable prices. The multifamily company does not only provide housing to its clients but also nurtures the environments in which the houses are located via its community initiative that allows like-minded residents to live a green lifestyle. 

Inspired by the ginkgo tree, Ginkgo Residential prides itself on being strong, deep-rooted, adaptable, and tenacious. The organization practices a customer-centric culture and offers an all-round exceptional customer service. Targeted at the middle market, Ginkgo Residential believes that the greener, the better. Hence, it constantly seeks to create a greener environment in its communities with the provision of smoke-free apartments, paperless systems, solar power, air sealing and insulation, community recycling, etc. 

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ginkgo Residential buys, renovates, and manages apartment communities in North and South Carolina.

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The Pain Point of Knowledge Imbalance 

The knowledge gap among staff members was a problem at Ginkgo Residential. Employees who were privy to tribal knowledge were more competent than others, and it took a toll on the company. Although they had manuals that served as a guide to workers, the manuals were not very helpful because they lacked clarity and precision. 

“It’s just very old-fashioned. If you hand somebody a PDF that includes everything that everyone needs to do in their company, that’s a great resource to have as a company, but that’s a really overwhelming thing to receive as an employee because you don’t know where the information that you need is.” 

The insufficient knowledge on the part of employees meant that they were either not doing anything or doing something wrong and it impacted the entire output negatively.

Choosing SweetProcess as the Best Option 

Sarah and her team knew exactly what they wanted in a system and they were not going to settle for less. Documenting their business processes was not the issue. They already had the processes documented but they wanted something better. 

“Our goal was really to look at ways that we could formalize our existing procedures and use that to hold people accountable, create more structure around expectations, and also have it be flexible enough that we can update as we continue to grow and change.”

The high number of workflow software of the market gave Sarah several options to choose from. She wanted the best, so she tried out about a dozen. By the time she was done, she had no doubts that SweetProcess was the one. 

“I started looking at the different options that were available and I went through about a dozen different platforms, used free trials, got in on the details, evaluated the pros and cons of all of them, and ultimately felt that SweetProcess was the best for everybody.”

How SweetProcess Improved Performance in the Organization

Gingko Residential understood that it was up against the stiff competition as a player in the booming real estate industry. Old-fashioned manual documentation was far from giving it the edge it needed to thrive. 

“This has been a really booming industry for the last decade, and at some point, in order to take it to the next level, you just have to have better procedures and better standards than you can get away with when you’re a smaller company.”

Sarah explains that SweetProcess improved the organization’s operations in the following ways:

1. Enhance business process documentation 

The impact of business process documentation is felt when processes, procedures, and policies are created clearly and concisely. The organization still had a documentation problem despite documenting their processes in PDFs and binders. This was a sign that their documentation was flawed. They needed a system where they could create clear-cut processes and connect them in the workflow. 

“The information that people need is kind of interlocking. You can tell them how to use the credit card but maybe they don’t know how to log in to the system to actually access the credit card. All these things feed into each other, and you need to have an ecosystem of information, and that’s really hard to create in a PDF form, but it’s really easy to create in SweetProcess because you can link to different procedures and structure them in different ways.”

SweetProcess gives authorized persons access to all the information they need in one place without having to move from one location to another. 

2. Fast-track employee onboarding and training 

New employees are eager to make contributions to an organization. But sometimes their excitement is dashed as they struggle to get a hold of their duties. Any means to make their onboarding and training effective is welcome. The team at Ginkgo Residential gives new employees a great start with SweetProcess. 

“What we’ve been seeing is that it has helped us with onboarding for several employees…and I’ve been really happy to hear people who are working near me using it, and I’ve gotten good positive feedback on it,”

Sarah explains.

She gives us a particular instance where SweetProcess fastened the onboarding process of a new employee:

“We had a new employee starting a couple of weeks ago…and his supervisor is explaining to him tasks he needs to do…he just points him toward the SweetProcess procedure and he says, ‘Read this and let me know if you have any questions,’ and he’s able to just seamlessly take over that responsibility.”

3. Decentralize knowledge

An organization has cause to worry when only a fraction of its employees is knowledgeable about certain tasks. It is held to ransom when the “privileged ones” are indisposed—a bad sign for business. 

“We had documents scattered on an internal portal and then we had some things that people thought that other people should know, and they didn’t feel that they had really been taught those things at times.”

SweetProcess offers cloud-based storage to document business processes, procedures, and policies. When employees are not available to perform their duties, anyone can access the documents in the cloud and follow the outlined steps to get things done successfully. Employees who change roles can also easily adapt to their new roles with the how-to documents at their disposal. 

4. The Quest for Continuous Improvement 

The team at Ginkgo Residential is not resting about their business processes yet. Despite successfully streamlining their workflow, they are committed to making it better, and SweetProcess makes it easy.

“What I appreciate about SweetProcess is that it has a kind of Wikipedia ethos where it’s about constant improvement. It’s about everybody feeling like they can have a hand in it. It’s not about just making a bunch of rules that you then push up on people.”

Sarah and her team are committed to maximizing SweetProcess to enhance all aspects of their business including onboarding, training, and retraining. 

Streamlining Your Business is Not a One-off Activity 

Streamlining business processes is not a one-man effort. It is a collective effort of everyone in an organization. Sarah points out that it is important to keep this in mind when you are documenting your processes.

“Every time that I write a procedure, I’m also working with the people who are the subject-matter experts on that and I’m asking them: What do you think works well? And what do you think works poorly about this procedure? I’m taking their feedback on what doesn’t work and incorporating comments in there.”

Getting everyone’s input to create a solid document is great but it does not end there. Your processes need to be improved from time to time. 

“Once we get everything documented, it’s not supposed to be a static thing that we’ve done perfectly that doesn’t change. It’s supposed to be something that does change.”

Evaluate your workflow from time to time to be sure that it is optimized. Close the gaps and tighten loose ends when you notice any.

Your Chance to Improve Your Business Operations

The problem of employee inefficiency at the company was nipped in the bud with SweetProcess. This explains that using the right system to streamline business operations saves organizations a lot of trouble. Take a cue from Ginkgo Residential and streamline your business processes. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of SweetProcess.

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