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SOP Communication Is Going Mobile -- Are You Ready?

 
 
Almost every new client we talk to these days wants their employees to be able to view standard operating procedures and policies on any device. Unfortunately, most organizations already have pages and pages of documentation using a format that is suitable for 8.5 x 11 printed page, but not for online. For these organizations, moving to mobile is going to require a considerable amount of conversion work.

Can we use a wordprocessor to create SOPs and Policies?

The answer to that question is basically the same as the answer for: “is it possible to use MS Excel do our Accounting?”  You can, but it’s not really the best tool for the job.
 
Just as a specialized accounting program can help you manage and automate your financial functions, a specialized tool can make the creation and delivery of your standard operating procedures and policies easier and more user-friendly than a wordprocessor such as MS Word.
 
Mobile-ready content (the techie term is responsive design) automatically adjusts itself to fit on the screen. The same content looks good on large monitors, tablets, and phones – without the user having to do anything.  Links are easy to see – and press – with fingers on touch-screens.
 
Responsive design makes:
  • Images fit to screen
  • Eliminates the need for users to pinch and scroll to read text
  • Makes Buttons clickable on smaller devices and touch screens
  • Allows for navigation, drop-down menus
  • Eliminates the need for fixed headers, footers, and page numbers
Non-responsive online delivery requires users of mobile devices to scroll back and forth to read sentences, find links and access content. Words flow off the screen, links are difficult to find, and images take up valuable space on small screens.
 
If your goal is to go online or mobile, it’s a big mistake to simply upload documents designed for print “as is.”
 
The following illustrates this point. We took an actual SOP we found on the internet that was saved as a PDF.  (This is common practice in most organizations). Then, we tried viewing it on a smartphone. Displaying page numbers and the fixed footer block on every page doesn’t make sense for an online presentation and just take up space.  
Blog-TwoPhones.png
 
 
The next illustration shows an SOP that was created in Zavanta as it looks on a phone and tablet.
 
CreatedOnTablet.png
The following shows a printed SOP that was created in Zavanta. Notice that the format used is optimized for print.


 
What you lose when you use a wordprocessor to create/maintain standard operating procedures
 
In addition to usability problems, there are things that you might want to incorporate that are just not possible or are very difficult to do if you are using a wordprocessor such as Microsoft Word.
 
You lose the ability to insert navigation menus, buttons, and links that allow users to quickly jump to sections within documents or to other places in the website.
 
Conventional documents created for print don’t work play well with search engines.
 
The format options are limited as well. Online/web technology lets you make SOPs more engaging such as displaying videos onscreen and adding audio.
 
Single-source publishing gives you the best of both worlds
 
This is the modern way to deliver content. From a single source, you can print documents, create PDFs (formatted for print), generate manuals and an online employee portal (website). This is the publishing method we’ve followed in our Zavanta Online application. Unlike DIY wordprocessing, there is ZERO formatting needed to create the various deliverables!