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How to develop a procedure manual

How to develop a procedure manual

Creating and sourcing comprehensive procedure manuals for your business – whether you’re in construction, agriculture or accounting – is an excellent way to streamline processes and deal with problems before they arise.

Procedure manuals are useful business tools that outline the parts, steps, techniques and possible pitfalls associated with a specific project or task. Most commonly found in the building and construction industry, they are increasingly also being used in other sectors to boost productivity, reduce conflicts and improve accountability.

Where they fit in

A bit like a set of instructions for your business, procedure manuals can cover a range of administrative processes, from authorisations through to cash handling, supplier arrangements, debt collection and risk management. Procedure manuals will also afford your business a certain level of protection from legal action, as they help to demonstrate that you have taken measures to ensure safe and correct processes are in place.

Writing it down

The most effective way to go about creating procedure manuals is to document a process as it is being undertaken, then refine it with the help of a professional technical writer. Not only will it help to document procedures you know are occurring within your business, it also helps you to uncover effective and ineffective processes that may have been adopted by staff in different areas.

From process to policy

Once the process is documented, it’s important to add a framework that specifically outlines the materials needed to complete the process, and how it interrelates with other processes in the company. When the basic processes are documented, they should be assessed within the context of the overall strategic goals of the company, and then tested by other employees to ensure they are easy to interpret and follow.

Change and continuity

Like a business plan, procedure manuals needs to be comprehensive enough to be useful, but flexible enough to be changed when new technologies or market conditions emerge. In this way they can not only document but enhance your business.

Although documenting your procedures can seem like a slightly onerous process, it’s well worth doing as it will improve your productivity in the short term, and boost the value of your business overall.

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