Sunday, January 15, 2023

Seven C's to avoid procedural writing errors

procedural writing errors

Seven C's to avoid procedural writing errors

You go to great lengths to ensure that your organization runs as efficiently as possible. But if your policies and procedures are incomplete, outdated, or inconsistent, then they're not driving the performance improvement that they should. When employees attempt to use incomplete or undefined procedures, costly errors and waste soon follow.

Case Study: Procedural Errors Add Up Quickly

Unbeknownst to them, employees at a local auto parts company were having a costly problem determining when to accept customer credit. The company actually had a detailed credit application procedure, including a thorough error-correction routine, but the procedure had a fatal flaw: it was not indexed correctly.

Indexing improves the usability of procedures

Without a way to easily locate and reference the applicable procedure in the operations manual, employees couldn't find it and simply didn't use it at all, leading to an inconsistent process and widely mixed results. Some staff members regularly turned away potentially valuable clients, while others took bad credit risks because they weren't sure which ones to turn down.

A small omission like this can add up to thousands of dollars in lost sales and goodwill. Even the most thorough procedures inevitably have loopholes that arise from being "too close" to the process or not following the basic rules of writing effective procedures.

Benefit from process expertise

To be effective, procedures must be action-oriented, grammatically correct, and written in a consistent style and format to ensure ease of use. These guidelines, along with industry "best practices" that are documented in auditable criteria, can be used to improve your procedures:

1. Context. The actions must adequately describe the activity to be carried out.

2. Consistency. All references and terms are used in the same way each time, and the procedure must ensure consistent results.

3. Completeness. There should be no information, logic, or design gaps.

4. Control. The document and its described actions demonstrate feedback and control.

5. Compliance. All actions are sufficient for their intended fulfillment.

6. Correction. The document must be grammatically correct and without spelling errors.

7. Clarity. Documents should be easy to read and understandable.

Quickly improve your policies and procedures without hassle

You can quickly resolve these usability issues and improve performance, as well as update your documentation to "best practice" standards without hassle or compromise. As you begin to improve your documents, you will be able to identify areas for improvement. And you can start today with the 7 C's of “best practices”.