Procedures Writing Guidelines

Illustration of a scribe writing
Image via Wikipedia

A Standard Operating Procedure is a set of instructions having the force of a directive, covering those features of operations that lend themselves to a definite or standardized procedure without loss of effectiveness.

Standard Operating Policies and Procedures can be effective catalysts to drive performance improvement and improve organizational results. Most quality systems are based on its standard operating procedures (SOPs).

With that in mind, you might want to consider the following points when writing your standard operating procedures (SOPs):

1. Purpose

Explain the objective the procedure is intended to achieve. This should be a brief 1 or 2 liner which makes it very clear to the reader what will be covered in this document. Avoid any ambiguous terms. Strive for accuracy. Use short, concise words. Avoid jargon and ‘industry speak’. Remember that the auditors review and evaluate procedures on a scheduled basis.

Highlight any exceptional occasions when users are allowed to ignore this procedure and the alternative procedures they must follow.

2. Scope
Identify the range of activities the SOP applies to, as well as limitations, exceptions, and pre-conditions.

3. Responsibility
Identify the personnel, departments, and contractors responsible for performing the procedure. Highlight the person responsible for training personnel.

4. Procedure
Explain the procedure with clear unambiguous steps. Identify who performs each step and any technologies or systems that are required to perform these steps.

5. References
List other related SOPs, supporting documentation, and applicable regulations.

6. Definitions
Define any words and acronyms used in the document.

7. Attachments
Attach any documents referred to in the SOP, e.g., flowcharts, work instructions, other procedures.

8. Version Control
Identify any changes that were made to the SOP; include the date, author and type of changes that were made.

9. Content

Write the procedure and then test it to make sure it is 1) correct, 2) concise, 3) complete, and 4) comprehensive.

Use language and a level of detail that is appropriate to the level of the user. Don’t talk above the user or switch writing styles in the middle of the procedure. Aim for consistency. Changes in language, style, formatting may undermine the reader’s confidence in the procedure and make them question its authenticity.

10. Tables
Use tables to display information that is best suited to a tabular format; matrices mat also serve the same benefit as readers can quickly extract the information without having to trawl through the entire document.

11. Voice
Write in the third person, use the present tense, and stick with the active voice. This gives the procedure a sense of directness and authority. Procedures written in the passive voice often come across as weak, vague and lacking conviction. Ensure that your material resonates with the reader and encourages them to follow the necessary steps.

Tip: Avoid references to gender (“they, their” rather than “he, she”) unless this helps to clarify an instruction or part of the text.

12.    Document Maintenance
Ensure that each page displays the procedure number, title, page number, and release date. Many readers will print out the sections that apply to their task only. Placing this document information in the footer helps ensure that the reader can retrieve and locate other similar information when necessary.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Get free and premium MS Word, Excel and Apple templates today


Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan