A business system, or standard operating procedure, is a guide that outlines the exact steps that you need to be follow to complete a task. While seasoned team members already know how to complete the tasks, and think that documented business systems are unnecessary, when new employees are hired, having the business systems documented will help them complete their job and achieve proficiency. This is invaluable when you are hiring virtual assistants and interns.
Recording your systems can be daunting but following some basic guidelines can help you find success. Here are five tips for creating effective business systems.
1. Be the Expert: It helps if you are intimately familiar with the task that you are documenting. Your personal experience completing the job can help but don’t be convinced that your way is the best way. Talk with your staff and take notes.
2. Make it Clear and Concise: When writing down the steps of a procedure, you want to be sure to use simple, direct language. Your business systems need to be understandable to anyone who has a basic, working knowledge of the industry.
3. Remember the Details: You want anyone reading these documents to be able to complete the task without having to ask questions. Be sure to include helpful hints to the steps involved. These could consist of specific locations of valves and switches or where needed supplies might be stored. When it comes to the position of valves and switches, consider making labels that you can refer to in the system documentation.
4. Link Related Procedures: Whenever possible, you want to cross-reference related procedures. Most business systems require users to perform multiple associated tasks for them to complete their goals. For example, a process for using the Print Preview function in your software should be linked to procedures for the Print function.
5. Combine Small Steps: Usually, when documenting business systems, it is best to only write one instruction per numbered step. However, you can often combine smaller steps to keep the document from becoming too lengthy. For example, “click the save button” and “close the application,” can be combined into a single step, “click the save button and close the application.” You can combine multiple steps when the concepts are simple.
Well written business systems and standard operating procedures should leave the users feeling comfortable with the experience and confidence in their ability to complete the task without having to ask questions.