As some friends on LinkedIn are also moving into business analysis and SOP writing, I thought I’d add a few tips here. While there is some overlap with technical writing, it does require a different mindset, for example, to understand the process flows and narratives that hold the procedure together.
This purpose of this article is to reminds us that our sales, marketing, business, and proposal development do not stand alone. It is all part of a larger process that involves planning, research, writing, editing, proofing, submission and acceptance.
This list gives 37 ways to improve your next set of procedures.
Scroll through it and tell me what I missed.
- Show that your procedure is logical and organized
- Make the information easy to find.
- Include a table of contents for procedures over 10 pages in length
- Ensure that your procedure is in compliance with the Security guidelines.
- Arrange material in order of priority to the reader
- Arrange everything in the order that’s most important to the client
- Arrange the procedure in accordance with the user’s requirements
- Number pages and sections consecutively; do not re-number each section
- Use headings that make sense to your readers. See Audience Analysis template.
- Each section title should stress the main benefits
- Each section title should help readers orient themselves
- If possible, express the key point of the section in the headline, or immediately after it.
- Highlight important points
- You can emphasize the most positive points by using bold, underlining, different fonts, spacing, titles, bullets and summaries
- Write all action steps. Don’t skip anything.
- Avoid banal headings and titles
- Rather than say “Development Section,” say “Ten Ways to Improve Your Processes”
- Use action verbs in heads, especially verbs that stress a benefit for the client
- Avoid boilerplate text.
- Avoid hype, padding and other self-congratulatory drivel. Remember that the proposal is a legal document that becomes part of the contract if you win
- By giving specific details and quantifying the benefits whenever possible
- Don’t just say that you will comply with a requirement — say how we’ll do so
- Use a strong closing statement
- Avoid business cliché’s
- Avoid hackneyed openings and closings that clients have read a thousand times. Avoid “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for considering the enclosed . . .” Get to the point: “Here is your proposal.” Avoid “If you have any questions, please feel free to call.” That closing has been done to death, so avoid it and write something more genuine.
- Make your procedure easy to understand
- Use the same terms and jargon that appear in all SOPs. Don’t try to impress the client with your own special brand of buzzwords or TLA (three-letter acronyms)
- Use simple, direct language
- Close your business documents on a high note. Don’t be too humble. A little confidence never hurt!
What did I miss?