How to Organize the Procedure Writing Team
The Procedure Writing Team may include some or all of the
- Full-time Procedure writers, possible yourself, whose primary
role is to gather data and write up the procedures.
- Part-time writers, such as Technical Writers in other
department, who will assist you when/where needed.
- Subject Matter Experts who will provide the knowledge you need
to write the procedures. For example, in a bank you may have
specialists with in-depth knowledge of how the credit card process
works. These will be the people to interview when gathering data
on how the current process works and also how to improve the
- Contractors who will be hired for specific pieces of work.
This includes Technical Writers, Editors, Graphic Designers,
Process Designers, Information Mappers, and others in the
- Consultants who will also be brought in for special projects,
for example those with Compliance or Sarbanes Oxley knowledge.
Those are some of the roles that will be involved in the overall
Procedure Writing lifecycle. In some cases, the same person may wear
two ˇ®hats' or more.
For example, I often wear the hat of the Project Manager, Writer
and Business Analyst. Remember, the management don't care what job
title you give yourself as long as the procedures get written on
How To Define Roles in the Procedure Writing Team
As with any team, you need to allocate responsibilities to each
task. This means thinking about who is best placed to:
- Gather information
- Interview specialists
- Write the procedures
- Design the
process flow maps (if necessary)
- Review the procedures
- Update the revised documents
- Test that the procedure is correct
- Sign-off the final document and
- Revise the procedures when there are changes to the business
How to Assign Writing Tasks
Depending on the resources at your disposal, you may be able to
allocate different people to these tasks or if you're circumstances
are more modest, you can allocate multiple tasks to the same person.
In some projects, I handled most all of these tasks except the
sign-off. While this is not ideal, the reality for many companies is
that there are not enough hands to manage the workload and you have
Warning: don't give writing and testing tasks to the same person.
I know this sounds obvious but writers can't (or shouldn't!) be
asked to test their own material. After writing hundreds of words
explaining how the procedure works, you tend to get ˇ®snow blindˇ® and
can't tell the woods from the trees, so to speak.
Key Roles in the Procedure Writing Team
Most projects will require the following roles:
This person is responsible for:
- Gathering source material, such as the existing procedures,
processes, and work instructions
- Interviewing those with knowledge of how the procedure works
- Arranging workshops and sessions to explore the material with
Subject Matter Experts
- Writing the
procedures in line with the company's standards and templates
- Circulating the procedure for review and
- Ensuring that it gets signed-off.
Oddly enough, getting sign-off from the project stakeholders can
be the hardest task.
Because getting people to approve a document means that they are
now partly responsible for its quality. In projects where the SOPs
are customer-facing, such as Health and Food related guidelines, it
can be very hard to get the final sign-off.
This person is responsible for reviewing the procedure, which is
usually sent to them by the Procedure writer.
You (as team lead or Procedure Writer) need to outline:
- What is expected of them
- How they should test the procedure
- How to record errors in the document
- How to flag contradictions and ambiguities
- How to circulate the reviews to the writing team
- How to escalate critical errors, for example, if the procedure
is currently is use
- How to close the testing cycle
Not all projects will require a Compliance Officer, for example,
procedures to do with food handling or food safety would require the
approval by a Health expert instead.
However, for procedures that involve banking, IT, government,
security and data protection, this person must ensure that the
material complies with the company's
- Compliance and
- Audit requirements
This is critical in pharmaceutical companies where procedures
need to align to industry guidelines and official health standards.
In the IT and Financial Services, business processes may need to
comply with Sarbanes Oxley guidelines.
This person takes the MS Word documents (i.e. the narratives) and
visual representation of how the process works. This is usually
done is MS Visio or another diagramming package.
The Process Mapper will create:
- Use Cases
which show different business scenarios
- Flowcharts that illustrate how transactions occur across
different departments or different actors
These diagrams are very helpful during sessions and workshop when
you want to improve an existing process. Seeing the process as
opposed to reading how it works brings the process to life and lets
us see how the process works.
This person is typically the Line Manager or the Department Head
who sponsored this activity. While this person may not read the
procedures line by line, they will typically interview the writers,
testers and compliance staff at the end of the project and quiz them
on how they gathered the material, wrote the text and ensured that
the procedures covers the most important areas.
For example, while minor errors, such as typos, may be overlooked
by the auditors, if a procedure contravenes guidelines, such as
Sarbanes Oxley controls, the company may fail the audit, which
undermines the company's credibility and is likely to lead to more
intensive audits from here on. This person may also be responsible
for allocating budgets to the project and ensuring that adequate
funding is in place for the project (and/or writers) to succeed.
These are some of the roles you need to prepare your SOPs.
Remember that there may be some overlap between different roles and
the same person may have to perform multiple tasks.
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
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
- Process Improvement
- writing SOPs
provides opportunities to refine current processes. Feedback received during this activity
helps identify limitation of the current processes and potential problems that may arise.
- Regulatory requirements - SOPs help
address legislative and regulatory requirements. Developing and maintaining SOPs is an
effective way to address safe work practice regulations.
- Staff Performance - SOPs clearly describe
what staff are expected to perform in the workplace. SOPs remove ambiguity and provide an
objective mechanism for evaluating their performance.
- Standardization - SOPs identify roles and
responsibilities. SOPs clarify decision-making requirements and chain of commands.
- Training material - SOPs can be used in
training programs, workshops and exercises. SOPs improve the understanding of work
requirements and identify potential problems.
Download the SOP Template Pack
The templates included in this pack are in
and Microsoft Excel format. You can download all templates online for only $9.99.
More details about the
SOP template pack are here.
The template pack includes the following documents:
- RFP Pre-Issuance Procedure
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual
- this is used for writing and maintaining multiple SOPs, for example, all SOPs for the HR
- Standard Operating Procedures template -
this is used for writing and maintaining standalone SOPs.
- Standard Operating Procedures Guidebook -
this describes how to write SOPs. The guidebook includes the following
- Writing Standard Operating Procedures
- Level of Detail
- Writing Style and Language
- Writing Conventions
- Numerical Information
- Component Information
- Procedure Titles
- Step Numbering
- Procedure Organization
- Revision Status
- Precautions and Limitations
- Terms, Definitions, Acronyms, and Abbreviations
- Writing Action Steps
- Writing Conditional Action Steps
- Standard Operating Procedures Log Book -
this is used for controlling new SOPs, numbering SOPs, and ensuring that all SOPs are
authorized before creation.
- Excel spreadsheets - these 3 Excel files
will help you manage document control, clarifications that arise during the analysis phase
and monitoring roles and responsibilities.
- Sample template - this sample template
documents the pre-issuance procedure when developing Request for
for $9.99 - Buy