Procedures are the workhorses of industry, demonstrating and articulating ‘how’ a task is executed for a given scenario.
Procedures are by their very nature action oriented.
Well-written procedures improve the quality of organisational outputs and outcomes. They reduce the number of errors and omissions and assist new team members perform complex tasks quickly and effectively.
Procedures are essential because they ensure consistency and adherence to standards so you and your organisation can:
- avoid legislative and regulatory oversights
- demonstrate due diligence
- mitigate risk
- operate efficiently
- capture and document expertise and know-how
- upskill your workforce
The best procedure documents are:
- highly visual
- include clear and concise annotations
- flexible, living and breathing documents that evolve lock step with your organisation.
There is little debate around the value and importance of up-to-date procedure documentation in business and industry. What there is, though, is a mixed bag approach across industries and sectors in terms of standards and-or foundational practices that underpin the development and implementation of standard operating procedures, how-to-guides, knowledge base articles and so forth.
There are the ‘door-stopping-bricks’ comprised of reams and reams of papers bound in generic lever-arch folders that never see the light of day, because they are too dense or complex to be practical or useful. Flimsy, vague or poorly prepared documents, that are hard to follow can also be found, out there.
Why is there such a myriad of practices in relation to the construction of procedure documents? Why are practices so diverse and inconsistent spanning the full spectrum of ad-hoc, reactive, lack-lustre through to ‘best-practice’?
Following are three observations you might recognise;
When you are charged with pulling together a procedural document a common practice or technique you rely on is the ‘cobble it together’ approach. This is where multiple applications are simultaneously juggled to assemble disparate elements into a new, word processing document, be that Microsoft Word or Google. Screenshots are captured that require ‘mark ups’ with a brush or pencil tool via a separate image editing program, cropped and snipped along the way. These enhanced screenshots are then inserted into the doc, text boxes added, content from other sources cut and pasted in, tables and shapes added, cells and formatting options tinkered with. It’s time consuming, repetitive and finicky; especially for substantial procedures.
Guiding protocols & principles
You are tasked with creating a procedure document for your organisation and set about locating up-to-date information, standards and assets only to discover discrepancies and gaps in your organisation in relation to how internal documentation is managed or, worse still, that there is no system in place. Each department and team are left to their own devices. Duplication, confusion and inconsistent looking documents, that read as though they are from entirely different organisations, are the norm. You wonder to yourself, ‘Where do I even start?
Your organisation is undergoing substantial change or is about to have its processes and practices audited, as part of continual improvements. You are charged with updating a set of Standard Operating Procedure documents and are unable to locate the soft files for your department’s SOPs.
Perhaps an external consultant created the documents and only supplied hard copy versions in a black lever arch file now that is gathering dust in a compactus, down in ‘archives’. Or perhaps the originals were created in a legacy or proprietary piece of software that is no longer accessible or readable. Perhaps the files were inadvertently deleted or not backed up?
So many variables.
Regardless, the documents will need to be painstakingly recreated.
Standards and automation can alleviate procedure documentation pain points, delivering structure and a framework for document authors to lean on.
Sidekick Software is all-in on standards and frameworks, indeed they are the drivers of products like WalkThru, which put into practice the following chain of actions:
knowledge or expertise is captured (input)
annotations take place (transform)
content is automatically formatted and converted into a digital asset such as word, PPT, HTML or PDF (output)
that is easily updated or altered (maintained)
By automating the process of Input, Transform, Output and Maintain (ITOM) the generation of concise and consistent procedure documents are not only streamlined but author pain points are resolved as follows:
- No need to juggle multiple programs to cobble together documents from scratch
- Branding and formatting is automatic
- Choices for outputs
- Consistency is guaranteed over time, across multiple documents
- Updates are easy
User pain points are subsequently enhanced as follows:
- Documents are clear and easy to follow
- Up-to-date versions are easily accessed
Technological advances have influenced and transformed the way we live, work and communicate.
The time has arrived for the procedural documentation field to embrace automation tools to standardise quality and conformance. Sidekick software is dedicated to elevating procedure documents as a field of practice, it’s our sweet spot of choice.
Discover more about how Sidekick and its products, like WalkThru, are utilising automation to transform the procedure documentation landscape.