How to Write a Procedures Manual

Want to know how to write a procedures manual? Each procedure manual from Bizmanualz is intended to be a simple, top-to-bottom guide, addressing the minimum set of statements for the administration and creation of a Procedure Management System.

Let’s say you’ve just been given the task to write a procedure manual that documents an existing business processes. You make sure you understand, and you close with, “I’ll get on this process right away.”

Break the Procedure Manual into Processes

New Release of “How to Write a Policies and Procedures Manual” is now available.

Start by mapping out the business process you need to document. The process map acts as an outline for your procedure writing: you have to know the steps in the process that need documenting before you start writing. With process maps in hand — one for each business process — you’re ready to start writing procedures. Here’s where using pre-written procedures can save you time.

Write A Procedure Manual with Pre-Written Procedures

If you’re looking for sample pre-written accounting procedures for your accounting processes, the Bizmanualz CFO Accounting Policies-Procedures Manuals set contains many sample accounting procedures you can use as starting points. The CFO bundle contains 262 prewritten accounting procedure templates and 369 accounting forms, organized into five functional areas, or business manuals. The CFO set covers the ten core accounting cycles.

Once the manuals arrive, the next step is “find an example procedure – a model for the one you need to write”. All Bizmanualz pre-written procedures are in Microsoft Word format and can be easily tailored to fit your specific business process. Let’s say you’re writing a procedure for vendor acquisition, or the “new vendor” process. Where would you start?

The vendor process map shows eight steps:

  1. Evaluate business requirements;
  2. Identify qualified vendors;
  3. Interview, Inspect and test vendor;
  4. Review results and approve vendor;
  5. Order from vendors;
  6. Log orders and delivery performance;
  7. Review performance against specifications; and
  8. Vendor-related corrective and preventive actions.

The Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual contains a Vendor Selection procedure that you can customize. How do you find it? In the back of the manual, you’ll find the “Index”. Search the index for your keyword, “vendor”. (You could also look through the table of contents in the front of the manual.) You find the Vendor Selection procedure, containing three steps, or activities (Vendor Selection, Vendor Inspection, and Vendor Files), in the “Purchasing” section.

Your process consists of eight activities, so you expand the pre-written procedure, adding the other five steps, or otherwise modify the Bizmanualz procedure to reflect your actual situation. Add your process map (a handy visual aid) to the front of the procedure, and you’re done!

Pre-Written Procedures Save Time

When you write a new procedure it can take between 4 and 40 hours, depending on the complexity of the process you’re documenting and whether forms are required. The complexity of a process, as well as your level of expertise in that subject, determines the amount of research — into standards, laws or regulations, references, and the like — you need to do. Forms also require time and effort to research and produce, assuming you don’t already have them. The Bizmanualz Vendor Selection procedure contains six pages of forms, including a detailed vendor inspection checklist. Many Bizmanualz procedures also include a “References” section, which can help you as you research certain topics.

Let’s say this is a 40-hour procedure to create, with forms. If you use the Bizmanualz pre-written procedure, with minor modifications you could have the same procedure ready in less than a day, saving yourself a great deal of time (and your eyes, a lot of wear). Using a single procedure, saving 38 hours of time off the 40 you planned on, practically pays for the entire five-manual CFO series.

And you’re going to find more than one procedure you can adapt to your business requirements. Most companies find dozens of useful procedures, which translates to hundreds of hours of time saved, before you factor in the opportunity cost of waiting for the procedures to be completed.

How to Write a Procedures Manual

9-Manual CEO Policies Procedures Bundle

What should you consider before you write your first policy and procedure manual?

  1. It is now common practice to use pronouns that are applicable to either sex — “their”, “him or her”, “his or hers”, or the most personal and direct pronoun, “you”.
  2. Social changes influence policies on on a variety of topics — for example, behavior and health (manners, smoking, physical fitness, etc.).
  3. To ensure that your system of policies and procedures is in compliance with all applicable standards and legislation, you should have a trusted legal adviser (attorney) review your work.
  4. Define the terms you use in your manual. Don’t assume everyone will know what you mean. For the convenience of your users, you should place definitions in each procedure, rather than — or, perhaps, in addition to — a separate glossary.
  5. Every organization is dynamic. As is often said, “Change is the only constant.” Your policies and procedures cannot be static. The business world is always changing, right? The competition isn’t resting on their laurels, are they? This idea that change is all around us means you have to change your policies from time to time just to keep up. Revisions have to be distributed to all personnel who hold a copy of the policy manual in advance of the “effective date”. One more thing before that policy goes into effect, you have to educate, or train, your personnel.
  6. When making any change to your manual, be aware that the language you use might have an impact — direct or indirect — on other parts of the manual. Choose your words carefully.
  7. Finally, be sure to keep a clear record of revisions made to the manual.

Revision Records

Each policy and procedure manual, as well as each section of the manual (policies, procedures, etc.), must include a record of revisions — what was changed, when it was changed, and so on. It’s important to keep this revision record up-to-date: it is one way of ensuring that distributed copies of your manual are current. That is, if you’re keeping your manuals in hardcopy form — if you’re using OnPolicy Procedure management software, it automatically maintains a revision record on each document in the system.

Depending on their size and specific business application, some companies require expanded information. For this reason, Bizmanualz, Inc., offers business publications that include detailed, topic-specific manuals, as well as those that are more generic in nature. Bizmanualz, Inc., is committed to providing professional publications for those business owners and managers dedicated to the development and success of their company. To this end, we continue to publish useful business guides to assist you in learning how to write a manual of procedures.

Sources of Additional Information

With the help of the prewritten policy and procedure documentation provided in every Bizmanualz publication, you should be able to produce effective procedure manual for most areas of your organization, including HR, Finance, IT, and others.

However, you may be able to draw on other sources of information to develop a comprehensive program that truly meets the needs of your organization.

Other sources include:

  1. Industry or trade association publications (e.g., AICPA’s Journal of Accountancy);
  2. Industry or Sector Guides (e.g., GAAP, IFRS, ITIL, IEEE standards);
  3. The company’s legal, financial, and accounting counsel;
  4. Related company manuals and procedures;
  5. Internal memos and records;
  6. Equipment user manuals;
  7. Customer surveys (formal or informal), proposals, or stated requirements;
  8. Regulatory agencies (e.g., SEC, IRS, European Medicines Agency);
  9. Standards organizations (e.g., IASB, ISO, RABQSA); and
  10. Small business advisory centers (e.g., SBA).

Read Bizmanualz Blog Articles:

Keeping certain concepts in the forefront — like “change”, “appropriate language”, and others we mentioned above — will help you craft the kind of policies and procedures manuals that will meet or exceed everyone’s needs. Most guidelines presented have immediate use and importance. However, by using the MS-Word documents we provide, you can edit the samples and customize them to your company’s individual needs. So, the next time you need to write a procedure manual fast, take a look at the complete collection of Bizmanualz business policies and procedures. Get your procedures project done nowbefore the end-of-month deadline your boss gave you.

Download free policies and procedures examples from any Manual now.

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