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How to Create Easy and Effective Procedures

Every business needs to know how to create easy and effective procedures.

Businesses spring up everywhere in all parts of the world, but each one tries to write their procedures effectively. You might think that some businesses simply find a way to go about their daily business routines, but this does not help them grow. Having a solid guideline for how to do things and what to expect for each task is important for a business’ growth and longevity.

Let’s start with the basics…even if it is just a refresher.

What is a Procedure?

A procedure is a particular way of doing or accomplishing a task. It provides a series of steps in a definite order. It guides and helps you attain a goal for a specific task, whether it is a common or a complicated one. Most of the time, when the task is lengthy, a carefully laid out procedure is provided. Directions, recipes, standard operating procedures, projects, and manuals for different devices are just some examples of procedures. 

What are the advantages of writing a procedure?

We may not always use procedures, especially when the task at hand is simple. But when it comes to complicated processes, they will always come in handy. 

Writing a procedure may:

  • Provide the steps and instructions for completing the task at hand.
  • Provide more accuracy and consistency in the process and result.
  • Avoid errors that may be committed during the process.
  • Answer the frequently asked questions about the process, especially when the person tasked is not familiar with the process.
  • Help the reader validate or check the process and result of what they are doing.  

How to Write Your Procedure Effectively

There are a few factors you need to consider when writing your procedures. Here are the most important points for how to create easy and effective procedures for your business.

Know Your Goal

All businesses have goals, and if you don’t have clear ones then you are sure to have jumbled procedures. Even if you believe you understand your goal, having it written in a form that everyone on your team understands is more important. A specific goal will keep you on track. You must also know which of your goals are short-term or long-term.

Know Your Audience

There are people who can understand procedures easily and then there are some who need more detailed instructions. You must know the group of people to whom you will need to present the written procedure. This is not to discriminate but to make sure that you are using a style of communication that your audience can understand.

Know the Scope of Your Procedures

Do you tend to jump from one topic to another? Then you must stop and get to know the scope of your process. Avoid mixing up separate procedures. Should you have any procedures that are interwoven, make sure you point out the distinctions clearly.

Have On Point Process Descriptions

A description is an important part of each procedure document. It should be short but concise and should not confuse one procedure with another. Writing a single-word description may seem easier, but it can be confusing. Use as many words as you need to get the point across clearly.

Consider Your Format

Much like your description and your scope, you must also give importance to the format you will use. An effective way of writing your procedures is having bullets on items that need to be highlighted. You must also limit your sentences or phrases so that everyone concerned can easily read your process document.

Imagine a home without a proper foundation and an owner who ignores the warning signs of wear and tear. Before long, this house will crumble with a simple blow of the wind. The same may happen with businesses that do not have structured procedures for different tasks. When you create easy and effective procedures, this contributes to the business’ profitability as organization improves. Without these guidelines, there will be no specific way to handle issues inside the business should any arise –  whether it be in terms of the people, finances, or any other area.

Remember that although dealing with procedural write-ups and instructions can be draining, it is vital to business success. The way you have written the procedures that people must follow can have a great impact on the results you get. Like a teacher giving instructions to students on a specific activity, it’s your responsibility to give a well-detailed and well-constructed procedure for each task you are assigning.

Tips to Create Easy and Effective Procedures

Here are some additional ideas that may be helpful in writing procedure documents:

Consult the Experts

Before writing a procedure, make sure that you know the details of the process. It pays to have complete information on the topic so that the procedure you are going to write is clear and achievable. You may collect the details you need from the people who are most familiar with what you are writing about. 

For example, if you are writing a procedure on preparing a special dish, you may ask the chef who created the recipe. After coming up with your initial draft, provide him a copy of your procedure to check for any errors that you might have committed. They may also see some other details that should be included. 

Know the Procedure First-Hand

What is a better way to write a procedure than knowing the task by heart? Writing a procedure can become a piece of cake when you know how something should be done. 

For example, you can create easy and effective procedures for baking cakes when you can make each one yourself. Writing a procedure is also like guiding the reader through your personal experiences. You get to infuse the document with your passion, which can inspire those who will take on the task that it describes. 

Use Concise Statements

Be straightforward and on point when writing a procedure. The easiest way to write a procedure is to make your statements and instructions short and simple. Do not include a statement that is not necessary. 

Remember that procedures deal with actions and with what a person should do in the process. Allow your reader to follow and work. You can achieve this by using the active voice instead of the passive voice in your sentences. 

Use Technical Terms Carefully

Some procedures may need to include some technical terms. Make sure that you describe these terms so that you don’t confuse the reader and negatively affect the outcome of the process. The best way to start each step is to use the verbs and terms that are appropriate and accurate for the specific step.  

The Components of a Procedure

The Title

It is important to give a title to the procedure you are writing because it provides a bird’s eye view of what the procedure is all about. For example, there are different procedures when publishing content. The titles should specify the process and result that you expect, like publishing blog posts or publishing user-generated content. 

The Purpose

All tasks have goals. This is what the reader should be able to attain once they are done reading the procedure. For example, say the procedure aims to enable the reader to properly respond to social media comments, or to reprogram a computer with a Celeron processor to a Core i3 processor. Make sure that your instructions enable the task to be completed according to your expectations.

The Resources

In the procedure you are writing, you should always include the needed resources such as materials, tools, and equipment. This can be written in a list and may link to related documents such as operation manuals. This will help the reader prepare the things that they should have ready before actually performing the task. 

The Steps

This is the set of actions the reader should undertake. In writing the steps, make sure that the words you use focus on the actions. Use appropriate verbs and terms when giving instructions. For example, in cooking, use the words stir, fold, grate, and chop in steps where they should be accomplished. Transition words are also helpful in arranging the steps in chronological order. Time allotment for accomplishing each step can also be helpful. A good example is the duration of a step, like the time that you need to bake a cake or roast a chicken.

By Brandon Kristopher Turner

Brandon Krsitopher Turner used to write operating procedures for businesses and help manage their workflow. He quickly turned that into a business called GetSOPs.com where he created systems and hired a remote team to run the operation in his place. He now runs Recipes for Business™, an email newsletter about delegating, automating, outsourcing, and scaling what you do in your business.

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