Home – New Forums Get productive Creating an Operations Manual – Stress free method

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  • #973964
    Keeta Nova
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    Reading the new Flying Solo book, reminded me about creating operations manuals.

    Personally I love them, but even though I’m a writer I still struggle to allocate time for writing my own – and the worst part, keeping it updated!

    My solution is to keep a word document on my desk top, and every time I think of something to put in there, I type it in. I don’t worry about the formatting or the perfect wording. I simply type it in the same way I would scribble on a notepad.

    I then have data to refer back to, that is kept in one file. I can edit and format later if I need to.

    Just a suggestion. You’ll find more info on these in other areas of the site.

    #1065243
    HammockFG
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    I read something recently about an easy way to ‘teach’ someone how to do a procedure..fairly useful for a computer based job.

    Just record yourself doing it. There’s lots of software that allows you to capture that kind of thing, and if you do need to include notes, they won’t need to be as in depth and complicated…

    I’m hoping to include some demo’s in our manual (which I swear I have to rewrite every week!!)

    #1065244
    Keeta Nova
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    Yeeessss…. someone who also knows how fun procedure writing can be! :D

    I completely agree with your comment also.

    Keeta

    #1065245
    fiona@vas
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    Another thing to think about is how the information will be used and how many people you’ll be sharing it with.

    Because we have hundreds of processes for our own business and for the work we do for clients, we store all our operations manual items in a database. Everyone can access it, everyone (well perhaps those to whom you’re happy to give access) can update it and it’s easily searchable.

    I tried for years unsuccessfully to keep an ops manual current and useful in a word processing document and wouldn’t dream of returning to that now.

    #1065246
    Keeta Nova
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    Very true Fiona.

    Another problem is keeping staff updated/trained with procedures.

    Involving staff in the decision making / documentation process helps reinforce the procedures. Policies are nothing on paper – the culture of a workplace and real ‘actions’ are more important.

    Keeta

    #1065247
    PerfectNotes-Kathy
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    Hi,

    The other thing to remember is that writing a manual of your own processes is only the first step. You have to remember to get someone else to follow your process – that way you’ll find the holes before it becomes vital. :)

    Kathy

    #1065248
    HammockFG
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    fiona@vas, post: 81717 wrote:
    Another thing to think about is how the information will be used and how many people you’ll be sharing it with.

    Because we have hundreds of processes for our own business and for the work we do for clients, we store all our operations manual items in a database. Everyone can access it, everyone (well perhaps those to whom you’re happy to give access) can update it and it’s easily searchable.

    I tried for years unsuccessfully to keep an ops manual current and useful in a word processing document and wouldn’t dream of returning to that now.

    I agree with you but sadly am still using the paperbased version because I don’t know any different! How did you go about setting up the database? Is it a big & costly undertaking? (Though I can understand it is probably worth it in the long run!)

    #1065249
    fiona@vas
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    I use FileMaker Pro because it can be accessed by both Macs and PCs, I find it easy to create, customise and update databases. Because we use it extensively, it’s worth the approx $500 per licence (although they have frequent specials, so if you think it’s for you keep an eye open for those). It also comes with templates such as a “document library” and “issue tracking” that can easily be modified to adapt to use for an ops manual.

    Microsoft Access is probably the equivalent on PC, and many swear it (but it’s not for me). I’m know that there are dozens of other relational databases out there that would also do the trick – I just haven’t ever looked too far past FileMaker Pro (and no, I’m not on their payroll or earning commissions! :)).

    There’s some thinking/planning you need to do to work out how you want to organise your data, but the good thing is that if you change your mind radically on how you want to set it up you can always export the data from one database and into your newer improved model!

    #1065250
    HammockFG
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    Thanks for the reply Fiona. I think the $500 licence fee is a little much for our needs tho. I will definitely think through this databased idea and see what I can do. My husband is also great at designing databases so I might have a think through what I want and ask him nicely for a favour :D

    #1065251
    GailH
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    Another option would be to set up your policies in a wiki. That makes them easy for multiple people to access and update, makes sure everyone is looking at the latest version, plus your set up costs will be minimal.

    I haven’t set one up for several years, so can’t make a recommendation on which one is best/easiest to use. If you’re interested though, I’m sure someone else on this forum can help you out. :)

    #1065252
    HammockFG
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    Oh that’s a great idea Gail! Thanks

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