How to Write Your First Procedure
Procedures are instructions. So, put yourself in the user's shoes and write from their perspective. In other words, unlike other types of documentation, you don't need to give the reader very much background details.
Do the following:
- Write in the Present tense. The user is performing the task NOW. Don't write in the past, conditional or future tenses unless you have good reason to do so.
- Avoid Ambiguity.
- Be concise.
- Use short words. This isn't a romantic novel you're writing. Keep the words short and get to the point.
- Move from one step to the next in a logical manner. Steps should follow each other in a logical order.
- Highlight Exceptions. Use a symbol to flag that this is an exception and how to handle it.
- Highlight Warnings. Again, warn the user that caution must be used in this scenario. Warnings MUST stand out. Use a larger font or a warning icon.
- Reduce the word count where possible without altering the meaning of the text.
- Introduce acronyms without explaining what it means. What does OLA mean to you? I know but most folks don't.
- Be Vague. Don't use the work ¡®may' if possible as it implies that the user can do something under certain conditions. Instead be positive and tell them what to do.
- Get the sequence wrong. Steps have to be in the correct order.
- List steps that should be numbered. What I mean is that some items can be listed, for example, a list of ingredients when cooking. But, you need to number the steps in the correct order so the cook can prepare the dish.
Finally, the process of writing a SOP requires the writer to consider all steps in the procedure and perform a risk assessment before work begins. The best approach to writing a SOP is to perform the procedure, write it and test it, write it again.
Table of Contents
- Before you Start Writing Your Standard Operating Procedures
- How To Find Procedure Writers
- How to Get a Budget
- How To Cost The SOP Project
- How to Get Management Support For Your SOP Project
- How to Find An Executive Champion
- How To Setup the Procedure Writing Team
- How To Define Roles in the Procedure Writing Team
- How to Create SOP Writing Guidelines
- How to Organize the Information Gathering Phase
- How to Test the Current As Is Business Process
- How to Examine Alternatives To The Current As Is Process
- How to Write Standard Operating Procedures
- How to Write Your First Procedure
- How to Number Each Step in the Procedure
- How To Capture Exceptions in Procedures
- How to Use If Then Tables For Complex Procedures
- How to Test Standard Operating Procedures
- How to Get SMEs to Test Procedures
- How & When to Sign Off the Procedure
- How to Publish the Standard Operating Procedures
- How to Control Documents
- How to Use Track Changes
- How to Use Naming Conventions
- How to Convert SOPs to PDF
- How to Upload SOPs to the Document Management System
- How to Create a SOP Document Archive
- How to Backup SOPs Archives & Store Offsite
- How to Implement Procedures
- How to Schedule Assessments