How To Write a Procedure Manual

Notebook and pencil

Before beginning work on a procedure manual, make up a list of the procedures that need to be described and documented. One method that will help with this decision is to observe a few manual users, in combination with a follow-up interview, to find out their opinion on a similar task list and then ask them which procedures they think need more clarification. Or, make a list of operational problems that you could potentially solve, using procedure information that is clear and concise.

In addition, it helps with the writing of your procedure manual to understand the subject you’re writing about and if possible, interview or conduct a survey on a few who actually perform the work. It will also help to read and understand their job descriptions. And, be sure to always get approval for writing a procedure manual.

Next, continue to gather the information that you will need. This can be done by observing someone who is performing the specific task. If you are however, creating procedures from scratch, then you will need to do some research. When you’re observing someone performing the task, take notes and write down all of the steps involved in the task and later ask them for tips or warnings concerning their work.  This will help your procedure manual to be clear and concise.

Your next step will be to create your manual’s layout. An example would be a two-column forum because it makes the procedure instructions clear and easy to read. Be sure to title each page and place within each list a small paragraph of facts, such as how frequently the procedure is performed, how many times it’s performed and why.

Be sure to write clearly and concisely and write your steps in individual fashion; a process that will make the process instructions easily understandable. Once the steps have been documented and recorded, have someone go through the procedure, following the steps that you have written and if he or she goes through the process smoothly, you will know that you’ve done a good job. If however, inconsistencies appear, corrections need to be made. You want the process to go smoothly from start to finish.

Once the process has been completed, you will need to repeat the process for all SOPs.

Your next step will be to look over all the written work carefully. Once all of the SOPs have been created, it is  important to compare related job areas and see how they flow from one position to the next.

After all the SOPs have been reviewed and created, the next step will be to put them in manuals and make them available. Be sure to place the date your manual was written, when it was approved and who was responsible for approving it.


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