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The Streamlined Business Blog

Standardizing operations, compliance, and training.

The Streamlined Business Blog

Standardizing operations, compliance, and training.

 

Category:

Writing tips: SOPs


What Hurts? Addressing Points of Pain with Policies and Procedures

Admittedly, Hemingway probably had something more poetic in mind than SOPs, but the advice still holds. Clients implement Zavanta software for a variety of reasons, chief among them are growing pains. Whether it is the confusion that seems to strike at around 50 employees, fast growth, or operations that are so borderline non-operational-it hurts. read more... about What Hurts? Addressing Points of Pain with Policies and Procedures

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Writing - the Foundation of Good Policies and Procedures

I spent a lot of time thinking about writing. I spend a lot of time reading about writing. And yes, I also write about writing. It is a baseline for most of my client conversations, because without writing you can’t get to the sharing and managing part of SOPs. You need content to share and manage, so you have to write. read more... about Writing - the Foundation of Good Policies and Procedures

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

How smart do you have to be to assemble an IKEA shelf?

So you just bought a shelving set at IKEA and go home to set it up. You crack open the box and the instructions . Can you put together without a degree in Engineering? The IKEA assembly problem is so common it’s gotten to be a joke! Chances are you can muddle through the instructions until about page 10, and then you just give up and try to piece it together. read more... about How smart do you have to be to assemble an IKEA shelf?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

What’s the Right Level of Detail for Procedures and Work Instructions?

Two common mistakes people make when writing policies and procedures involve opposite sides of the same coin—Not enough detail or Too much detail. Some policies and procedures fail because they are so vague and generic that people can’t use them. Other policies and procedures are so long-winded and complex that people can’t follow or understand them. read more... about What’s the Right Level of Detail for Procedures and Work Instructions?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

SOPs -- Why Not Just the Steps?

This question comes up a lot in Zavanta Coaching sessions. To save time and get to the point, why not just list the steps for how to do a task? Clearly, the action steps are one of the biggest parts of SOPs. But, step by steps are not the only information that makes for good SOPs. If you adopt a “just the steps” approach you will be missing a lot of important information. read more... about SOPs -- Why Not Just the Steps?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

If Your Procedures Sound Like Shakespeare, You Might Want to Reconsider

If, your answer be “Yes” then goeth to step 17a, but if no goeth to the next step wherefore you can prepare to move to step 17b. If “maybe” then henceforth see HR Procedure 127.5 line 7 …. While this might be slightly exaggerated, it is not all that far off from the kind of content I see on a regular basis: Documents that are hard to follow, hard to read, and pages and pages long. read more... about If Your Procedures Sound Like Shakespeare, You Might Want to Reconsider

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Recipe for Good SOPs

Cookbooks and recipes actually provide a pretty good jumping off point for understanding how to set up SOPs. They tell you what you need. They give you the steps in the order you need them. They use pictures. They are easy to read. As anyone who has ever made cookies can attest, the closer your follow the instructions, the better the cookies. read more... about The Recipe for Good SOPs

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Thanks, Entrepreneur Magazine for these lists of writing tips

Here are two great references for those of us trying to get our minds around writing. Laura Hale Brockway shares tips for the professional writing, but many of them are applicable to those of us writing policies and procedures as well. The big take away- write clearly! Get to the point. Read read more... about Thanks, Entrepreneur Magazine for these lists of writing tips

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Top Tip for Writing Easy-to-Follow Step Instructions

If you want one simple, easy to remember rule for writing policies and procedures, work instructions, and employee manuals that get good results, this is it! Start each step with an Action Verb. It takes a little discipline to apply this but you’ll be amazed at how effective it is at keeping your instructions clear, concise, and easy to understand. read more... about Top Tip for Writing Easy-to-Follow Step Instructions

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Use S-V-O Pattern for Reader-friendly Procedures

If your goal is writing reader-friendly procedures and policies that get read and used consider how you write your sentences. In addition to using simple, direct terms avoid unnecessarily complex syntax. Subject verb object is the easiest sentence pattern in English to read and understand. It follows the pattern: who is kicking whom. read more... about Tip -- Use S-V-O Pattern for Reader-friendly Procedures

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Cut to the Chase! Avoid Pompous Words in Procedures

When writing policies and procedures for your organization keep this mantra in mind: Time is money and people are busy! Cut to the chase! When they read your organization’s policies and procedures, your colleagues and employees don’t want to be impressed with unnecessary big words and an inflated vocabulary. read more... about Cut to the Chase! Avoid Pompous Words in Procedures

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

One Big Reason Your Procedures Don’t Get Used -- Forgetting Usability Testing

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing policies and procedures, really doesn’t involve writing at all. The mistake is failing to test. If you want a recipe for policies and procedures that no one will use, just do what far too many organizations do: assign someone who is familiar with the task but doesn’t actually DO the task (tech writer / programmer / engineer / manager), and have them sit at their desk and write an “official” procedure. read more... about One Big Reason Your Procedures Don’t Get Used -- Forgetting Usability Testing

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Banish Worn Out Cliches from Your Manuals

Clichés are those tired overused phrases you hear a lot but don’t communicate much anymore. Cliches are often just verbal clutter and can make your writing boring or annoying which won’t help the readability or credibility of your company procedures manuals and training guides. It’s good advice any time, but especially when writing policies and procedures, try to prune out the time-worn phrases and confusing jargon that creeps into everyday speech in business. read more... about Tip -- Banish Worn Out Cliches from Your Manuals

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Be SPECIFIC when Writing Step by Step Instructions

If your goal is writing policies and procedures that get read and used, pay special attention when writing step by step instructions. Tell the reader exactly what to do when you give instructions. Do not assume that your readers will know what you mean. Chances are they won’t. Vague instructions only confuse and frustrate people. read more... about Tip -- Be SPECIFIC when Writing Step by Step Instructions

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Beware Acronym Overload

Acronyms are short hand abbreviations for longer terms and phrases. e.g. IRS is the acronym for the Internal Revenue Service. Although there’s nothing wrong with using acronyms—they can save time and ink—beware acronym overload and use acronyms with caution. Too many acronyms can become confusing alphabet soup. read more... about Tip -- Beware Acronym Overload

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Provide both the ACTION and the RESULT of Steps

Here’s another tip for writing policies and procedures and employee manuals that get good results. Provide the RESULT as well as the Action in your steps. This is an simple but powerful way to keep people from taking a wrong turn and getting confused, or worse still making a costly error! Unless you tell your readers what to look for, they will not know if the result they get is correct or not. read more... about Tip -- Provide both the ACTION and the RESULT of Steps

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tip -- Use Specific Rather Than Abstract Words

If your goal is to have your organization’s employee manuals and training guides read and used, keep this tip in mind when writing policies and procedures. Don’t be vague! Abstract terms are harder to understand and frequently boring and lifeless. When you use vague generalized words, you’ll either bore or frustrate your reader. read more... about Tip -- Use Specific Rather Than Abstract Words

Wednesday, March 3, 2021