How to Save Time and Reduce Stress – create well written Procedures

Make it a habit to save time and reduce stress by creating well written procedures!

If one of your team can’t make it to the office one morning, and the staff payroll is due to be processed today…or something equally important, you will appreciate it if there is a well-written procedure available to explain what needs to be done and how to go about it!

When you and your team are able to access a well written procedure you will all know what to do, when and how to do it, and even more importantly ..how not to make mistakes! This can reduce a lot of frustration and wasted time especially when it comes to having to undo mistakes!.

Well written procedures help your practice and your team function better.

By having well written procedures your stress levels will reduce because you’ll have less to worry about and you and your team won’t be spending lost time trying to work out how to do things they are unfamiliar with.

By writing an effective procedure for events that are repeatable;

  • your business will improve its efficiency
  • you will bring consistency to your practice activities
  • compliance will improve within your practice
  • there will be less stress on you and your staff!

Yes, procedures are a great idea and we should all want to have them available…but how to go about writing a procedure?

Writing a procedure can seem a little intimidating at first! However, like most things once you look more closely at them there is nothing to be concerned about.

Keep things simple!

In any practice, it’s typical for many things to get done without written procedures. There are “unwritten rules” and informal procedures. But sometimes these unwritten rules need to be set in a well written procedure.

Sometimes procedures can be too brief and restrictive, and at other times, they’re vague and lacking in detail.

Procedures step the reader through the “how to’s” for completing a task or process. They detail the steps to take, and the order in which these steps need to be taken. Well-written procedures are typically brief, precise, factual, and to the point. You need a well written procedure when a process is;

  • lengthy (example: a client audit)
  • complex (example: practice income administration)
  • routine, but it’s essential that everyone strictly follows rules (example: payroll)

and where the process;

  • demands consistency (example: implementing adviser instructions relating to a client or on-boarding a new client)
  • requires detailed and accurate documentation (example: recording a client’s investment recommendations and actions)
  • has serious consequences if done wrong (example: almost everything relating to a client’s interests!)

Easy steps to create your procedure

1. Gather information

  • Before you start, gather your information and think about who will use the procedure.
  • The reader needs to know how to implement the process correctly and the order, or steps, needed to do it.
  • They may need to know why something is done a certain way.
  • They will probably appreciate knowing what to do if something goes wrong.

Also think about;

  • Is there enough detail contained in the procedure for the reader to understand the subject?
  • Think about who will be reading the procedure. Is the level of detail appropriate for the reader?
  • How comfortable or familiar will the reader be with the subject?

 2. Break your procedure into steps

When you have gathered the information content for the procedure, identify the key steps in the process and number these steps. These steps will provide will form the headings for each section of your procedure.

There is no set rule of how your procedure should be formatted. It just needs to provide simple, clear, separate, easy to follow steps to arrive at the end outcome.

By breaking your procedure into steps it will be much easier for you to show the reader the process to follow from start to finish.

3. Write the procedure

Rule number 1 – Always assume that the reader has no prior knowledge of the subject. i.e. clearly explain the context, and the purpose of each step in the process.

Cut down the information to what the reader really needs to know about the process.

4. Bear these points in your mind!:

  • Write actions out in the order in which they happen. Start with the first step, and End with the last step.
  • Avoid too many words. Just be specific enough to communicate clearly.
  • Use lists and bullets.
  • Don’t be too brief, but also be careful not to overdo it! Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Be careful not to use jargon.
  • Write at an appropriate reading level for the person who will be reading the procedure.

Once you have written the first draft of your procedure and are happy with the content, then you can refine the words, layout and structure.

Remember, to end with a well written procedure;

  Keep it simple!       Keep it clear! 

If you need further assistance, please contact us.