Six Best Practices For Procedure Documentation – Part One

Written by on February 2, 2016 in Procedure Documentation with 0 Comments

January brought resolutions for changes to your business for the coming year.  Now it’s time to start implementing some of those resolutions and to change employee behavior.  A common business resolution is to be more effective and efficient in conducting your business.

Documenting your procedures is often the first step in becoming more effective.  It helps to see on paper how the process flows and the steps your employees are taking to get the work done.

Here are the first three best practices for procedure documentation to keep in mind.

 

Who will be reading the documentation?

One:  Consider WHO will be reading the documentation.

Is the documentation written for a production person, a clerical or professional audience?  The language you use, the level of detail and historical background required will be different depending upon your audience.

For example, it’s common for the IT Department to create documentation for end users.  Oftentimes the language is very technical and contains jargon that most end users don’t understand.  The documentation may be accurate but not very user-friendly.

Make sure the documents you create can reach your target audience and provide information that they can use in their daily activities.

Two:  Consider WHAT needs to be documented.

It’s not possible, nor is it desirable, to document everything that employees do each day.  This is where having a list of critical business functions for each employee comes in handy.  Create a list of the most critical business activities and determine the priority order to revise or write the procedure documentation.

When to document?Three:  Consider WHEN to document.

There is never a great time to document procedures.  It takes time and adds to the daily activities of your employees.  It’s easy to put off the documentation and justify with a lot of excuses.  “We are too busy.”  “We don’t know how to do it.”  “My people don’t like doing it.”  “The procedures are going to change soon.”

Don’t implement a documentation project at a time when your employees are already stressed.  For example don’t initiate a new project when you have end-of-year reports due or during your busy season.

But do expect your employees to document their processes.  Make it a part of your performance reviews and track their progress.  Incorporate procedure documentation into your business culture at every level of the organization.

What’s Next?

Look for the final three best practices in the next article.  In the meantime, don’t let your resolution to improve your effectiveness in the coming year get side-tracked.  Take action to develop your business procedure documentation keeping in mind these best practices.

As always, if you need staff coaching or assistance in developing great documentation for your organization, let me know.  I am here to help!

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