Write It Down!

Many small and medium-sized organizations don’t have written procedures for their most common practices.  After all, it’s difficult to take time out from growing your organization to document procedures and, on top of that, it’s painstaking work that most people don’t like to do.  So, why is it important to do so?  Here are 5 reasons it’s worth the investment of time and money to document your procedures:

  1. You can learn a lot about your business

In the process of documenting your procedures, you will ask your team how they do things.  This can solicit all kinds of useful information that can help you improve your product, service, or sales.  For example, a non-profit that produces lots of funding proposals may discover that one proposal writer is including fixed administration costs in her proposals while another is not.  Standardizing this in a written procedure could lead to better cost-recovery on projects and increased credibility for the organization.

  1. You avoid making the same mistakes over again

The process of talking about best practices within your team will draw out the most efficient way to do things.  One staff person may point out a solution he/she has found to a common problem.  This may eliminate costly rework or poor quality products.  Documenting procedures also allows you to efficiently spread learnings throughout the organization.  Why waste time revisiting problems that others have solved?

  1. You can improve the training you provide

How can new employees be trained on a procedure if there’s no documented way of completing it?  Without procedures, your trainers are using their memory to inform the training they provide – a precarious proposition at best.  In addition, they may have different ways of doing the tasks, which can lead to inconsistent results.

  1. You can hold people accountable

It’s difficult to hold team members accountable if there’s no documented method for completing a task.  Written procedures clarify expectations and highlight critical steps in a process.  They make it clear who is responsible for what steps.  They reduce ambiguity and enhance accountability.

  1. You enhance the well-being of your clients or customers, your employees, and others who interact with your organization.

Written procedures are critical to health and safety.  Think of all the people we rely on every day to prepare food, build bridges, administer medications, clean hospitals, counsel family members, look after children, drive trucks, install appliances, etc.  Would you expect each of these people to come up with their own way of completing the task? Or are you relying on them following a written procedure which lists the critical steps?

A well-written procedure is based on the wealth of experience gathered from your team and your industry.  It provides the necessary detail to complete complex tasks safely, to the expected degree of quality, in the most efficient manner.  It’s a worthwhile investment that will serve your organization for years.

Read more on this topic at:  http://www.ibc.ca/on/business/risk-management/policies-and-procedures

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