design guidelines for procedure manuals

File Name:design guidelines for procedure manuals.pdf
Size:2808 KB
Type:PDF, ePub, eBook, fb2, mobi, txt, doc, rtf, djvu
Uploaded9 May 2019, 18:48 PM
Rating4.6/5 from 838 votes
Last checked12 Minutes ago!

design guidelines for procedure manuals

Whether employees need to know how to operate the copy machine or how to complete required health and safety training, a procedure manual can offer an overview of the steps. Many employers design combined “policy and procedure” manuals, but it is important to recognize the distinction: policies reflect rules, while procedures reflect processes and how to complete them. In putting together an effective procedure manual, it is essential to focus on the procedure itself and provide the information that will be more useful to employees for accomplishing it. Qualities A procedure manual should be simple to read and use. A procedure manual that requires its own procedure manual just to read it is not much use to any employee. Additionally, the procedure manual should be consistent in all elements, including style, design and information. A procedure manual is designed to assist others in completing a certain task, so it should be written with the readers in mind. The processes that are described should be clear and logical, so that all readers can follow the procedure without difficulty. Features Procedure manuals will vary in specific features, based on the type of information that is detailed. For the most part, however, effective procedure manuals are those that have clear and consistent formatting so that readers know how to follow the material. Paragraphs should begin and end without confusion, and readers should not have to wonder where one step ends and another begins. In describing steps, writers should use strong action verbs to ensure that readers know exactly what to do, and they should offer explanations and options where appropriate. Writing Style The writing style for a procedure manual should rely on clear and concise language. Technical language and jargon that will be unfamiliar to most should be avoided.

Design The design of the procedure manual will depend largely on the type of procedure that is being outlined, but some design recommendations apply for all procedure manuals. A good procedure manual uses a great deal of white space. That is to say, the manual is not overloaded with print but rather offers plenty of indentation and paragraph breaks to avoid scaring off the reader. Effective procedure manuals also have clear headings and sub-headings, as well as any other appropriate labels and outlining for many points. Responsibilities Those responsible for writing procedure manuals are also responsible for reviewing them periodically. If material becomes irrelevant, it should be removed or updated. If the information is not effective in helping employees, the manual should be revised and improved. A procedure manual is only as useful as the work it enables readers to accomplish, and if the manual fails to do that, the writer has the responsibility to change it. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and multinational business from Florida State University and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Her work has appeared online at Bill Savings, Money Smart Life and Mortgage Loan. In general, the opinion prevails that developing training manuals is a rather boring and time-consuming process.In fact, it is an ongoing process that can be fast, simple, and hassle-free. This article will teach you how to make the documenting process super easy. Before we go any further, let’s clear up what accounts for a successful guide. This phrase should be a rule of thumb for any writer because telling informs and showing engages. So, instead of writing long passages of text, provide your staff with screenshots or video tutorials and place them wherever needed to prevent potential issues. That’s why it’s better to see something once than read it several times.

Another valuable tip is not to be confused by a number of different fonts modern programs can support. Settle on a few readable fonts to be usually used in your manuals. Besides, it is crucial to give all your documents the same layout. The best advice here is to design a custom template that will be aligned with your brand and business needs so that all training manuals have the same look and feel. For this purpose, you can use StepShot Guides customizable templates in PDF, Word, HTML, and PowerPoint formats. To produce top-notch manuals, procedures should be written in a simple structure. It is important to preserve hierarchy in writing SOP guidelines so that readers can conceive them with the naked eye. The use of the bulleted or numbered lists is welcomed as well as enough space between images and paragraphs.You should consider not only the actual employees who’re working on it now but think of each role responsible for the procedure. Thus, do not use any names in your procedure manual but accurately define the role of each responsible individual. Moreover, try to look at the procedure manual as if you were one of those responsible persons and make sure they understand everything, each minor step is documented, and your manual is easy to follow. You can also ask for a feedback from your colleagues, preferably those who will use this procedure manual in the future. With StepShot Guides for Windows or MacOS, you can bid farewell to the usual burdensome way of writing SOP guidelines with the help of screen capturing tools, image editors, and word processors. StepShot Guides brings together several different tools under a single interface avoiding in such a way switching between multiple contexts. Despite its multifunctionality, the tool is quite easy in use. It operates in the background automatically capturing screenshots on every mouse click.

Afterward, you can make use of StepShot’s toolkit to edit or add text descriptions, edit visuals, and so on to receive a final guide in a few minutes. Further, you can export it in numerous formats (Word, PDF, HTML, WordPress, PowerPoint, video, and images), save to StepShot Cloud, and share and publish your guides wherever needed. With ScreenToGif, GIFs creation isn’t a problem and doesn’t require specific skills or much time. It comes in handy as a free screen recorder tool, which makes it super easy to create quick and catchy GIFs. This tool lets you record a selected area of your screen, live feed from your webcam or live drawings from a sketchboard. It takes only a few minutes to edit and save your recording as a GIF or video. It gives you all the tools you need to create your own designs from scratch or choose from a number of professionally designed layouts. You can turn your own designs into layouts and share them with your team. Custom templates will help your team save time and align with your branding. If you don’t, you will definitely experience a downturn in your guides production. Well, what if I tell you that creating a procedure manual 15 pages long can take you only 15 minutes instead of one hour. Tally up how much money, time, and labor you can expect to save by following our guidelines and using StepShot Guides. So, give it a shot! The results won’t be long in coming. Next Next post: StepShot Guides Wins High Praise from FinancesOnline Related Posts What is RPA.We’ll get back to you within 1 business day. The Guidelines on Writing Procedure Manuals by Kevin Johnston Related Articles The Advantages of Flowcharts How to Write Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Document Control Conference Presentation Objectives Scanners That Convert Documents to Excel How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure Title Purpose What Is Z-Pattern Advertising.

Share on Facebook Writing a procedure manual becomes more difficult the better you understand the procedure. This might seem like a paradox, but the more you know about a procedure, the more automatic it is and the more you forget what it was like to learn it. To write a procedure manual, you must consider every step so a newcomer -- such as a new employee -- can follow it like a map. Gathering Best Practices Most procedures can be completed in more than one way. Each person may develop shortcuts or simply do things in a different order out of habit. Before you write a procedure, interview people who have done it and find the best practices they use. You can structure your manual around those best practices and ignore alternate procedures. This helps ensure quality when the procedure is followed and eliminates any sloppy practices that could lead to errors. Numbering Procedures have a sequence to them. If you use numbers, your reader can understand the order the steps should go in. Even for procedures that do not progress in a straight line, you can refer back to previous steps by number if they need to be repeated. If you prefer, you can use letters instead of numbers. Headings Headings for each topic or section can break up heavy text. If you use boldface for the headings, you create an obvious break in the visual presentation. Modern readers understand that headings separate sections and summarize them. Using these visual cues can make technical and complex procedures much more understandable and less intimidating. Defining Terms One of the biggest pitfalls to writing a procedural manual is jargon. Words you readily understand may need definitions for someone who is new to the task. Think about these insider words as you write and ask yourself if someone outside your company or industry would understand them. Provide a definition in the text the first time you use the term. This also applies to acronyms and other abbreviations.

Scaffolding Each of your steps should cover a specific function or task. Avoid asking a reader to perform two actions in one step. Furthermore, make sure the steps lead logically and naturally to the completion of the procedure. This is like building a scaffold. Each level must be complete before you can build the next one. Make sure each section of your manual provides a foundation for the one that follows it. Visual Enhancements If you provide pictures, graphs and charts, don't expect these elements to do all the work for you. Make sure the text also explains what is in the illustration. What may seem like an obvious picture to you can be confusing to someone who is not skilled in reading visual presentations. References Help Scribe Technical Writing: Policy and Procedures Manual Template -- Writing Guide BizManualz: 7 Things to Consider When Writing Your Procedures Manual University of California, Santa Cruz: Guide to Writing Policy and Procedure Documents Writer Bio Kevin Johnston writes for Ameriprise Financial, the Rutgers University MBA Program and Evan Carmichael. Having a written outline of how things should be done at your workplace ensures that every employee has the knowledge and vision to contribute to the growth of the business. Create a procedure manual to empower your employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read) A procedures manual contains the policies, guidelines and processes for the whole organization. It exists to help employees do their jobs in an approved and consistent manner. Include Policies and Procedures for Your Business Your procedure guide includes the policies and procedures for your overall workplace, as well as for each individual role. This reduces miscommunication between the business and its employees. It also ensures there are processes in place for how to complete each action, and what to do in case disciplinary action is required.

Outline Specific Instructions for Each Role Each department in your organization should have a procedure manual where the tasks of each role within that department are outlined. For example, there should be an IT department manual, a customer service department manual and a sales department manual. Within each manual, be sure to list out each kind of role, such as IT manager, customer service representative and sales associate. For example, if one of the customer service representative’s tasks is to close up the cash register each night, how should they do it. How should they count the cash and credit card transactions, where should they list them and what should they do with the cash at the end of the night. They have a reference they can check when they forget a process or are completing a new task. Use a Direct Writing Style for Your Procedure Manual Writing a clear, coherent and useful process manual takes time. Start with drafting an outline of all of the information you need to include. Next, highlight the areas of priority, so you know which sections to start with. Complete the procedure manual section by section, instead of working on multiple sections at a time. This helps to reduce confusion and repetition. Include plenty of numbered step-by-step lists for processes that need to happen in a certain order. Use bulleted lists for procedures that can be completed out of order. Where possible, include images or graphics to aid in understanding. When necessary, revise the procedures that are out of date. Share the updated latest version of the procedure manual with your employees. Instead of having a printed version, consider having an online version of the manual, which makes it easier to ensure that your employees always have the latest content. Share the manual with all new employees and stress the importance of reading through each section to become familiar with the rules of your workplace and department.

Reference the manual in meetings where questions about topics that are in the procedures come up. For example, if an employee wants to know what the policy is on taking sick days, answer their question and also remind them to review the information in the procedure manual. References BizManualz: What Is the Purpose of a Procedure Manual. UniversalClass: How to Start Creating Your Policy and Procedure Manual Resources Nonprofit Operations Manual Template About the Author Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Sounds great, right. But how should you begin? You also can look online for templates you can download, such as Microsoft Office Policy Manual.Other businesses, especially small businesses, may only have a handful of policies. Chances are good that your business is somewhere in the middle. Do you have one? Do your customers and employees know what it is. The truth is that they may not. Those values are good ones, but when it comes down to making decisions for your company, those words are not enough. It is a term for the basic beliefs by which a company runs. It is the often unwritten guidelines that employees are expected to follow. Company philosophies are often established over time and often over the course of trial and error. Are your employees guessing at what your company philosophy is. If so, creating a policy and procedure manual can be the opportunity to make those unwritten guidelines written for all to see.

Anybody can sell a product or offer a service, but it is the way you do A strong company philosophy will guide you and your team in all aspects of business. As a result, it is a strong building block for your policy and procedure manual. An effective mission statement answers these four questions: Take time to think about what your firms stands for. What philosophy do you want your employees to keep in mind? You may have already drafted this information for your company website's About Us page.By sharing your story, you can go a long way in building company loyalty. Many of them decide to stay. Let your background, your service, and your products speak for themselves. To help you get started, here are a few suggestions: The description should include duties, decision-making authority, and supervisory responsibilities. This section addresses issues of honesty (theft), of appearance, and of job performance. It also details what constitutes misconduct and how misconduct is handled. These policies may regard substance abuse, smoking, sexual harassment, and workplace violence. This section gives your staff direction on what to do in the event of a natural or man-made emergency. An important aspect of a modern effective policy and procedure manual includes the use of the Internet. Employees chatting with each other came in second at 27 percent. It also can include forms and templates on proper e-mail etiquette. You will see that there are many more areas your manual can cover. As technology continues to remap the business landscape, be aware that you may have to make frequent updates to keep your manual up to date. Are you revising an old outdated manual, or are you starting from scratch? Here are a few key steps: Is that need already addressed elsewhere. For example, do you need an e-mail or texting policy, or can it be part of your communication policy. Perhaps a brief addition to an existing policy will be enough to address a new concern.

Use a template's table of contents as a place to begin, adding and subtracting sections according to your company's needs. This letter should be an encouraging show of support for the policies and procedures that follow and should reveal the importance of the manual as a whole. You can change the wording of the headings or section titles as you go along. You also may want to add new headings or sections that pertain to your industry. You'll find that Microsoft Word has advanced functions for creating both indexes and tables of contents, for example. You will use these goals to guide your wording for each section of the manual. Since most companies focus on customer service, let's look at that category as an example. In other words, what do you want your employees to focus on when it comes to customer service. Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking: How much autonomy do you want your employees to have in dealing with your customers. Your policy and procedure manual can spell things out. The woman was returning boots she had ordered for her husband just before he died in a car accident. At her husband's funeral, the widow related the kindness of Zappos to her friends and family. Would your employees feel they could do the same thing. Remember, policies do not just provide restrictions; they can offer freedom. Take the time to review these forms to see if any of them need to be revised, updated, or even abandoned. Ask what is the intent of the form and does it require a need for a written policy. You may find that some of your forms are not linked with any existing policy and are, in fact, not needed at all. Research is a big part of the process of creating a policy and procedure manual. The policies you make define your firm's standards for decisions on personnel and organizational issues. This evenhandedness can contribute to a better workplace environment and promote staff loyalty.

Your policy and procedure manual defines the rights and obligations of the employee and the employer.However, when not done properly, a policy and procedure manual could do more harm than good. Policies that are too general may make it difficult to hold employees accountable for their actions. Most changes will not require you to publish a new manual, but you will need to make updates and amendments when appropriate. Keep your policies and procedures up to date. To be honest, most employees will not read the information unless you require them to do so. This page would include a brief statement and a place for the employee's signature and date to verify that the employee has read the manual, agrees to abide by the policies and understands the procedures. However, your company should be careful in defining the behavior that violates the policy. Avoid focusing on an overly legal definition of what constitutes harassment. Harassment complaints may also be based on race, religion, age, and other areas. Focus on allowing employees several avenues for reporting inappropriate behavior and on training supervisors how to respond to harassment complaints. Consult your attorney for suggested wordings of your policy statement. Some states consider vacation and paid time off as a vested wage that cannot be taken away. Instead, consider a vacation policy that allows accrual up to a reasonable certain point, with no additional accrual allowed once that point has been reached. A policy that allows a maximum of 1.25 times the annual accrual is sufficient. However, not many employers are aware that a policy imposing a maximum amount of time on this leave (such as three months) can cause legal problems. That policy violates some states' labor codes, however. An employer may also specify in its policy that employees need authorization for overtime.

When policies are worded, such that it is the employee's responsibility to take meal and rest periods, as described, and to notify supervisors if they do not take them, it reduces the employer's potential legal exposure. They may work against you. For example, an incident of violent behavior on the job may be too egregious to get just an initial verbal warning. It also is important to include in the document that it is not the final word on all company policies. State that the manual is subject to change and revision. From time to time, employees may receive notice of new or modified policies, procedures, benefits, or programs. Also the provisions of the union contract will apply when they are different from those described in your policy and procedure manual. Even small businesses must comply with tax laws, and with both state and local zoning and licensing regulations. You can have printed copies available in designated areas at your place of business, and you can have updated copies available online. Some offices may charge a consultation fee, while others offer them free of charge. During the session, ask about fees for work, such as reviewing your policy and procedure manual, who will do the work, and how long the review might take. Look for the best balance of experience and cost that meets your needs. Categories Writing Procedure Manuals Tags manual policies procedures steps What are the 7 steps to a Policies and Procedures Manual. A lot of work goes into developing every Bizmanualz Policies and Procedures manual. We start by conducting policies and procedures research. 1. Policy Procedure Subject Research In the past, we primarily searched the Internet for clues as to what people wanted. We would find what topics people were interested in by doing the same thing you do: searching by keywords. We have matured since those days. We are still conducting online research, but we are also talking to visitors to our site readers to learn what is important.

In those cases, we identify common practices, look for “best practices” in each instance, distill them, and have subject matter experts review the results. 2. A Design and Development Plan Early on, we devised a realization plan for our manuals, basing it primarily on clause eight of ISO 9001 “Product Realization”. (Download our ISO 9001 2015 Procedures.) We begin with a checklist of all the items we put into every manual (e.g., table of contents, index, introduction). We then add the particular topics to cover in procedure form, estimate the time and other resources needed to complete each task, and set a target date for each item. Procedures in our older products tended to describe mostly ballistic processes. Our more recent products have been improved considerably by the introduction of the ISO process model, the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle. While it’s not possible in every case, most of our procedures are modeled on the PDCA cycle. Procedure Planning New Release of “How to Write a Policies and Procedures Manual” is now available. The first step in such a procedure is planning an activity or series of activities, followed by doing the activity and gathering data as the activity progresses. The third step is the act of checking, or reviewing, the data to see if the process is in control and yielding the expected results. Procedure Usage Gathering data and analyzing them are the most crucial aspects of the PDCA cycle, so we provide guidance for data collection — sample forms (logs, checklists, etc.) — with most of our procedures. You may adapt the provided forms to your unique circumstances, or you may substitute forms you already use (e.g., ledgers, order forms) for those provided. Remember — you cannot improve a process that you don’t monitor and measure. Procedure Changes The fourth, but not final, step is acting on the data. If you’re doing it right, it’s really a “Plan-Do-Check-Do-Check-Do-Check”, etc., cycle.

The data tells you how to act — bring the process back into control or, if the process is in control, either allow the process to continue and keep monitoring or make adjustments to reduce process variation even further. So, we’ve written this procedure. It just makes good business sense, doesn’t it. You wouldn’t release the first draft of a web page, a prototype, your first take in the recording studio, or a brand-new web app without reviewing it, would you. In our case, we’ve come up with a straightforward plan for product realization. It’s a task list (Figure 1) that starts with defining product requirements and “ends” with gathering feedback from customers. We identify the resources required at each step and set a target date for completing each task. Quickly implement Business Policies Procedures with easy Word templates We then prepare the first draft of a document, conduct a review, use the review notes to revise the document, and review the revision(s). Eventually, the procedure is approved and we go on to other project tasks. A NOTE OF CAUTION: When you develop your own procedures — whether you use our product, someone else’s, or decide to go at it alone — avoid the classic analysis paralysis, or delayed perfection, trap. Try too hard to get a document perfect and you’ll never release it. It will never be good enough. Go for “good enough” and improve the document as you go. ISO 9001 acknowledges the fact that perfection is impossible — that’s why there’s a continual improvement clause (8.5.1) in the quality standard. 5. Putting on the Finishing Touches Of course, procedures aren’t the whole story when it comes to building policy and procedure manuals. Every manual has a table of contents, an introduction, a “manual preparation” section, and an index. Each of those also goes through a review-and-approval process.

We take the Microsoft Word files comprising the manual and bundle them into a single PDF file for our printer-servers — that file has to be reviewed and proofread, too. “ Install ” copies of the manual (one for CD, the other for download) must be made and tested. If the manual in question is part of a bundle — let’s say we’re including it in our CFO Accounting Policies and Procedures set — there’s another set of “install” copies. Two control copies of the manual are printed and kept in the main office. Web pages (e.g., shopping cart, information page) are updated, keywords are purchased, a “press release” is prepared, and a brief announcement is prepared for the weekly e-newsletter. The product release is formally announced, the new product is given a prominent spot on our website’s homepage, and the product is released for purchase. 6. Releasing the Product Chris Anderson, our Managing Director, reviews the Realization Plan and, when he’s satisfied all pre-release tasks are completed and documented, indicates his approval for release by signing the Plan form. In advance of the release, we prepare a number of promotional pieces (e.g., announcements, introductory offers) and release them just days in advance of the product release to get some buzz going. 7. Your Feedback After the product has been on the market for about three months (give or take a day or two), we begin to solicit feedback from purchasers of the product. Actually, if you order a printed manual, we ask for your feedback from the moment you open the box. The CD-ROM is affixed to a letter of introduction, in which we ask for your input. We need your feedback — good, bad, or indifferent. Feedback is the key to continual improvement. If your customers don’t tell you anything, you keep on going as if there is no problem — at least, until the product isn’t selling (and wouldn’t you prefer knowing well before that?).