Procedure Manual Creation – Without Feeling Overwhelmed

Procedure Manual

Procedure Manual Creation – Without Feeling Overwhelmed

Question of the Week: “I would like to have a procedure manual created for every department in the company, but the task seems overwhelming. Do you have any suggestions on getting started?”

Attempting to quantify and describe every event or task that occurs during the course of a normal business day and putting it into a procedure manual may seem like an overwhelming initiative. But the exercise is essential to your company’s growth and success. Ideally, standard business procedures should be firmly in place long before a mishap or disaster strikes. Here’s how to get started.

Begin with an organization chart

An organization chart should include all the key roles and functions currently in place for your organization, including sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, and administrative. Once all key roles have been defined, list the names of the individuals responsible for each role identified. They will play a huge role in the procedure manual project. Keep in mind, if you are in your start-up years, your own name may appear many times!

Identify the reader and write with them in mind

Before you get started on the procedure manual, picture who will be reading the manual. It is important to write the manual with them in mind. It helps if you write in the third person – and explain your processes in terms that others will understand, without any shortcuts! Ensure that the instructions to the point and as clear as possible.

Make an initial list

Each process that you wish to systematize should be listed, and then prioritized by area of importance. Ensure that employees performing each job are engaged in the writing process. Even if you have an outside resource (another company or a 1099) fulfilling a specific role, you should involve them in recording the process for the job they are responsible for.

Go step by step

Break each process in the procedure manual down into manageable steps. Try to number each step, writing down who is responsible and clearly articulating what is required. Write it ALL down, even items you may feel should be implicitly understood – just assume that they are not.

Date it and log it

Keep an electronic record of your procedure manual and any revisions. Ensure that your procedure manual has a revision date clearly marked on each page. If each page is dated, there will be no question down the road as to the most recent draft available. A good procedure manual should be used often and updated as necessary – and that may be quite frequently.

Use video in your Procedure Manual

If possible, include videos as part of your procedure manual. You don’t need to have the videos professionally done, cell phone videos will work just fine and will become a great training tool in addition to other materials in the procedure manual. The bigger and more sophisticated you become, you may want to consider using a CRM of ERP system to automate many of the processes – automation is the way to go.

Now that you have the basic tools to begin a solid procedure manual for your company, it’s time to get started. Systematizing each of your company’s processes is not only good business – it is SMART business!

Michelle Landis, Founder and Principal, Master Business Coach

Michelle Landis, Master Business Coach

As a business coach, I use a unique blend of coaching and consulting to help business owners achieve a higher level of performance for both themselves and their business. It’s a very direct approach that provides my clients with insights into what is coming next, laser-sharp focus and the opportunity to practice, make mistakes and learn in a safe and supportive environment.


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