Creating Your Operations Manual(s) by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

Mar 17th, 2013

manualOne of the keys to delegation and to an everyday, smooth flow in your office and your business is to create an operations manual for your company.  This may feel like an overwhelming task, but it isn’t.  That is to say, it is not overwhelming if you follow these ten tips:

  1. Recognize that an operations manual is created one process or procedure at a time.  You may put together your operations manual (OM) over the period of six months to a year (or even longer, but I don’t recommend setting that as your goal).

  2. Recognize that each section of your operations manual (OM) will provide a step-by-step set of instructions for how to perform a particular procedure or complete a particular project.  Conceive of manageable chunks of this project throughout its creation

  3. Recognize that you (or someone else) will write each section of your OM one step at a time.  Now, doesn’t that feel manageable?  Just breathe.  You can do this.

    So, what can you do to start writing your OM?

  4. The next time you notice that you are doing something for the 2nd or 22nd time, open a Word document and label it Operations Manual for __________________. Insert the name of whatever the procedure or project is.

  5. As you begin to work through the series of tasks that allow you to complete the procedure or project, document each step – AS YOU DO THE STEP.  This may seem painful, but believe me, it is less painful than continuing to do something that you could easily delegate or assign to someone else (thereby allow yourself to work on – or play with – other projects and parts of life).

  6. Do not leave out any step, regardless of how small it seems.  Don’t assume that someone else will be able to make the mental leaps and connections that you can.  If you want to be able to enlist the help of someone else to take over all or part of this procedure or series of tasks – and to do so in such a way that allows you to have peace of mind that it will happen just as requested – then write down ALL the steps.

  7. Write down the time you expect this particular procedure to take.  Be reasonable in your time expectations and note a range, as appropriate.

  8. Capture any special notations or directions that amplify or further explain the series of steps/tasks.  If you know there are areas that can interfere with the smooth completion of the procedure or process, it is wise to make a note in your Operations Manual (OM).

  9. Give the OM to someone who has never done the procedure for which you are providing directions.  Have him/her actually DO whatever it is you have described in the Operations Manual without additional input from you.  If any of the directions appear to be open to interpretation (which is indicated by the other person not doing EXACTLY what you want), then make note of those areas.

  10. Revise your OM as needed.  Then, either have someone different complete the steps or put this set of directions into your companies master Operations and Procedure Manual.

I know that this potentially sounds tedious.  But here is what I also know:  The longer you keep doing what you very well could be having someone else do for you, the more money you are costing your business and yourself.

(c) Meggin McIntosh, PhD  | Emphasis on Excellence, Inc. |

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