Why Create An Operating Manual For The Workplace?

Have you been allocated the daunting task of creating your business' operating manual? Does your workplace have a few policies of procedures that are a little bit out dated? How do you even start writing an operating manual? It is hard knowing what is to be included in the operating manual and what does not need to be included. The key to the smooth running of a business can be placed largely on the quality of your operating manual.

What is an Operating Manual and Why is one Suggested?

The main purpose of an operating manual is to provide practical organisational and operational procedures for the daily routine of your business. It might be worth separating the policies manual from a procedure manual - to help stop the confusion between the two. Although a well thought out and well written training manual should be able to incorporate both policy and procedure in one handy training manual; without causing bewilderment to the reader.

What goes in an Operating Manual?

Each and every organisation or business should have a set of policies and procedures that show and explain how decisions are made and how the business operates within that particular organisation. A well written policy or procedure will definitely improve organisational accountability and they are essential for quality assurance. Although some policies and procedures may not be written down - they still may exist - to help guide the choices that are made within the business or to shape how people who network with the business are dealt with.

The main issue with those unwritten policies and procedures is that they are not subject to the normal organisational assessments or accountability reviews. If your business is lacking written policy and procedure, you may begin to notice a few different (and perhaps unacceptable) methods of how decisions are made or how the business is operating; this could lead to an unpredictable and even conflicting organisation. Ultimately leading to inefficiencies developing - which is obviously NOT what you had ever intended to happen.

Policies, Procedures and Instructions

You are probably wondering whether a policy and procedure is one in the same thing. They are not the same thing! It is vital that you know this and can remember the differences between policies and procedures. Policies are the directive ethics by which service is offered. Whereas, a procedure should go into detail, (while taking the policy principles into account), about how the service will (and should) be provided.

Remember; policies are a depiction of the business' guidelines regarding decision making and are not directions. They differ from procedures, because a policy will not tell you exactly how to go about something or how it should be done. Procedures are based on the policies of the organisation or the business and are usually step-by-step directions of how things are to be done within the organisation. Basically, a procedure differs from a policy because it actually specifies what will be done, when and by whom.

So you are probably wondering what instructions are now! Instructions slightly differ from procedures because these instructions give specific orders to tasks within procedures. For example there should be an employment and interview procedure, but there will be specific instructions for how the employment advertisement is to be presented to the general public. Having those instructions separate from the procedure, will stop your operating manual from becoming untidy and perplexing! Are you now wondering how policies, procedures and instructions all link together nicely - in a non-confusing way? To put is simply, the policies are the principles of the business.

The procedures explain how things will and should be done (taking into consideration the business' policies) within the organisation and the instructions then stem from both policy and procedure.

Why Create an Operating Manual for the Workplace?

So when considering a separate policies manual and a separate procedures manual, keep in mind that the less confusion, the better. There is no doubt that creating your business' operating manual is a hard and strenuous process. You should keep in mind that you cannot simply take one entity's operating manual and call it your own. Every one is different, because every entity has different goals and beliefs. Remember, to make an effective operating manual, make it simple to comprehend. This will ensure that a complete stranger could read it and understand how your business works.

Remember to Update your Operating Manual!

You need to ensure that any changes in policies or procedures are updated in your manual as soon as possible. There is really no point in producing an operation manual if you never ever use it, or fail to update and review it regularly.


 

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