Definitions used in Procedures
- Task – The smallest identifiable and essential piece of a job that serves as a unit of work, and as a means of differentiating between the various components of a project.
Writing a Procedure
If done right, procedures can be very valuable, they can help systems and people function better. If your people know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and how not to get it wrong, you can reduce frustration and save a tremendous amount of time and effort.
Procedures are action oriented. They outline steps to take, and the order in which they need to be taken. They’re often instructional, and they may be used in training and orientation. Well-written procedures are typically solid, precise, factual, short, and to the point.
Many procedures seem “black and white,” with clear steps and only one way of doing things: “Complete A, then B, then C.” But sometimes you need to be less exact and allow room for personal judgment. When a procedure is too tight, it can cause confusion. Since life isn’t always simple and clear-cut, some procedures need to allow subjectivity and individual choices
Procedures should communicate what readers need to know, not just what they want to know. They might need to know how to do the process correctly, faster, or with less waste
They also might like to know why they have to do something a certain way, where they can go for help, and what happens if something goes wrong. Where necessary, make sure your procedures deal with technical issues as well as subjective elements.
- Do users have enough information to complete the action?
- Is there enough information to guide users in using good professional judgment?
- Is the level of detail appropriate for the subject?
- Is the level of detail appropriate for readers?
- How comfortable are readers with the subject?
Do I need a procedure
Not everything needs a procedure, so don’t create procedures for basic tasks – otherwise they’ll be ignored. The number-one rule of procedure writing is to make sure there’s a reason to create them: Perhaps people forget to take certain actions, perhaps they keep on getting things wrong, or perhaps tasks are so long and complex that people need a checklist if they’re going to get things right.