Regardless of the industry and niche your business is a part of, writing SOP guidelines has always been concern #1. Among common questions typically posed by many line managers who are responsible for documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs), there is usually something like “Which tips to follow and which program to use when creating a procedure manual or guide.” This is discussed in this article and ever more – there is one more new blog post – click below to read the best step-by-step guide on creating an SOP and download an SOP template.
In this article, you’ll find some golden nuggets on creating a procedure manual that rocks: best tips & tricks and a list of helpful tools. Once you are armed with this information, you will be able to churn out help manuals and guides in minutes. In general, the opinion prevails that developing training manuals is a rather boring and time-consuming process. This article is going to debunk this belief and set up a brand new way of writing SOP guidelines – in a breeze.
Creating a Procedure Manual Like a Pro
If you are an entrepreneur, a head of the department, or a person responsible for maintaining and updating company documentation, chances are you need a feasible plan to know how you can create training manuals, how-to docs, software walkthroughs, and employee onboarding guides in no time without allocating too much effort to it.
Top 4 Tips and Tricks on Writing SOP Guidelines
There is a number of reasons to document policies and procedures, yet far too often, businesses disregard it and associate it with boring and passive typing that presupposes zero creativity and imagination. In fact, it is an ongoing process that can be fast, simple, and hassle-free. This article will teach you how to make the documenting process super easy. Before we go any further, let’s clear up what accounts for a successful guide.
Show don’t tell
An image speaks volumes. This phrase should be a rule of thumb for any writer because telling informs and showing engages. Stats have shown that visuals are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. So, instead of writing long passages of text, provide your staff with screenshots or video tutorials and place them wherever needed to prevent potential issues. In such a way, you will kill to birds with one stone – you will avoid unnecessary questions while people will be less likely to encounter any problems while executing the procedure. Moreover, users tend to recall visual information much easier because studies prove that we remember only 10% of what we hear, 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see and do. That’s why it’s better to see something once than read it several times.
If you’re using multiple graphic images in procedures, make sure they have a consistent size and do not cover too much space on a page. Another valuable tip is not to be confused by a number of different fonts modern programs can support. Settle on a few readable fonts to be usually used in your manuals. Besides, it is crucial to give all your documents the same layout. The best advice here is to design a custom template that will be aligned with your brand and business needs so that all training manuals have the same look and feel. For this purpose, you can use StepShot Guides customizable templates in PDF, Word, HTML, and PowerPoint formats.
Present information in chunks
Chunking promotes easier and faster information processing. To produce top-notch manuals, procedures should be written in a simple structure. It is important to preserve hierarchy in writing SOP guidelines so that readers can conceive them with the naked eye. The use of the bulleted or numbered lists is welcomed as well as enough space between images and paragraphs. All this makes scanning easier and sim[lifies the navigation through a manual.
Wear the shoes of your audience
The accomplishment of the procedure you’re going to describe in the manual may involve one or several people. You should consider not only the actual employees who’re working on it now but think of each role responsible for the procedure. Thus, do not use any names in your procedure manual but accurately define the role of each responsible individual. Moreover, try to look at the procedure manual as if you were one of those responsible persons and make sure they understand everything, each minor step is documented, and your manual is easy to follow. You can also ask for a feedback from your colleagues, preferably those who will use this procedure manual in the future.
Which Program to Use When Creating a Procedure Manual
If you’re filled with doubt concerning which program to use when creating a procedure manual, we are happy to provide you with a list of the best tools for creating SOPs.
The traditional way of documenting software is broken. With StepShot Guides for Windows or MacOS, you can bid farewell to the usual burdensome way of writing SOP guidelines with the help of screen capturing tools, image editors, and word processors. StepShot Guides brings together several different tools under a single interface avoiding in such a way switching between multiple contexts. Despite its multifunctionality, the tool is quite easy in use. It operates in the background automatically capturing screenshots on every mouse click. Afterward, you can make use of StepShot’s toolkit to edit or add text descriptions, edit visuals, and so on to receive a final guide in a few minutes. Further, you can export it in numerous formats (Word, PDF, HTML, WordPress, PowerPoint, video, and images), save to StepShot Cloud, and share and publish your guides wherever needed.
For added value, it is recommended to use GIFs along with screenshots in manuals. With ScreenToGif, GIFs creation isn’t a problem and doesn’t require specific skills or much time. It comes in handy as a free screen recorder tool, which makes it super easy to create quick and catchy GIFs. This tool lets you record a selected area of your screen, live feed from your webcam or live drawings from a sketchboard. It takes only a few minutes to edit and save your recording as a GIF or video.
Graphic design becomes amazingly simple with Canva even if you are not a professional designer. It gives you all the tools you need to create your own designs from scratch or choose from a number of professionally designed layouts. You can turn your own designs into layouts and share them with your team. Custom templates will help your team save time and align with your branding.
Once you turn to the aid of the aforementioned tips and tools, you are going to automate the process of writing SOP guidelines in a long run. If you don’t, you will definitely experience a downturn in your guides production. Well, what if I tell you that creating a procedure manual 15 pages long can take you only 15 minutes instead of one hour? Tally up how much money, time, and labor you can expect to save by following our guidelines and using StepShot Guides. So, give it a shot! The results won’t be long in coming.