Have you ever had to create a step-by-step guide to teach someone how to do something?
Maybe you have a Google Sheets dashboard that needs to be updated every week and you've had to write out how to do it for someone else. Or perhaps you were onboarding a new customer and had to create a walkthrough doc on how to use your software.
If you're in ops, you can probably come up with dozens of examples of your own on when you've had to do this. And you would have first-hand experience of how painful the experience is. You have to first map out all the steps (doing a flow chart helps with this btw), then get all the screenshots right, and write out detailed descriptions for each of the steps narrating what you're doing and why. You do a couple edits and reviews to make sure the writing flows, then it's time to share it. How do you do decide where and who to share it with? Do you save it to Google Docs? Notion? How do you make sure relevant people have access to it?
Like I said, it's painful.
But writing step-by-step guides is a rite of passage for anyone in startup ops. You build a process, optimize it, automate it to the extent that you can, and then eventually you delegate running that process to someone else. In order to delegate, you need to train. And in order to train, you need good documentation.
This is where Scribe comes in.
How does Scribe Work?
Scribe enables you to "share how-to in seconds" by "automatically generating step-by-step guides for any task".
You're thinking "That sounds too good to be true." That's what I thought, too. But hey, apparently teams at Facebook (now Meta), Tesla, and Amazon are using Scribe already.
So I had to try out Scribe for myself.
There's really just four simple steps to using Scribe:
- Download the Chrome extension that lets you record your screen
- Record yourself going through the process you want to document
- Edit the guide that's automatically generated from your recording
- Share the finished guide (called a "Scribe") with others
Let's dive into a step-by-step guide on how to create a step-by-step guide using Scribe :)
1. Download the Chrome extension
Sign up first at scribehow.com. As part of onboarding, Scribe walks you through the first few steps of setting up your workspace, downloading the extension, etc.
But if you wanted to download the extension first, go to the Chrome web store and download Scribe. If you don't have an account already, you'll be prompted to sign up after downloading.
2. Record yourself going through the process
To start recording yourself, you click on the Chrome extension, and then the "Start Recording" button.
Once you're being recorded, go through the process as you would do it, going to a URL, clicking some buttons, and typing things out. Scribe automatically captures your actions while recording.
For example, I've recorded a Scribe of myself searching for Scribehow on Google. I went to google.com, clicked on the search bar, typed in "Scribehow", then pressed the enter key. As you can see below, Scribe captured all those steps automatically.
3. Edit the automatically captured guide
With 80% of the work already done for you, you just need to put the final touches on the guide. Perhaps you want to delete a step because it's unnecessarily detailed. You can simply delete or edit that step. If you want to rearrange steps, you can drag and drop each of the steps in the order you'd like.
If you decide to splurge on the Pro plan ($29 / mo currently), then you can edit screenshots as well - cropping, pixelation, etc. I'm on the Free plan ;) (Pricing plans and features can be found here)
Taking the Google search example, I've decided to delete the screenshot of clicking on the search bar as it's simple enough to not require a screenshot. Instead, I've added a text-based step. See below:
4. Share your "Scribe" with others
All Scribes are initially set to Private (only you can view it), but sharing it is as easy as clicking on the Share button.
And like Google Docs, you can assign access levels for each person you're sharing it with:
I think the easiest way to see how useful this tool could be in your daily workflow is seeing examples of useful Scribes.
Here's my favourite: Find out who targets you with ads on Facebook
Scribe <> Ops
When I discovered Scribe, I fell in love with the tool immediately. It's such an elegant solution for a pain point that all of us feel all the time.
Ops at startups are always building processes. Scaling processes across the org, effective transfer of process ownership, onboarding new hires / customers - these are all pain points that can effectively be solved by Scribe.
I'm also a big fan of their Free plan which allows you to create an unlimited number of Scribes. But if you're using it for work, upgrading to the Pro version would be worthwhile especially if you want to create Scribes involving desktop apps (available only on Pro) and/or adding some polish (editing screenshots available only on Pro).
If you haven't yet, check out Scribe. I promise, it will make your operational work so much easier.