|I can tell you, after ten years of concentrated organization of our company—order-from-chaos doesn’t just happen! Order left unattended returns to chaos—ORDER takes creativity and hard work!
It’s due to the fact that the owner has never taken the time to DOWNLOAD—write down how their business operates—from the time they TURN-THE-KEY in the morning and open their door for business, until they TURN-THE-KEY and lock the door in the afternoon.
There’s a whole lot of stuff going on between those two TURN-KEY events. In most businesses, most of that STUFF—the processes that run the business—are just floating around in the owner’s head. Therefore the owner is constantly interrupted by employees trying to get at that information. If the owner leaves the premise for any reason, all #@&! breaks out! Sound familiar? That STUFF—the process that run the business—is what I call THE SYSTEM.
Webster’s Dictionary Defines Systems as a group or arrangement of parts, facts, phenomena, etc., that relates to or interacts with each other in such a way as to form a whole; an orderly method, plan or procedure.
A network of interacting written PROCEDURES, POLICIES, CONTROL CHECKLISTS, etc. detailing how the business operates, which will form your Operations Manual—THE SYSTEM
This Operations Manual should be made accessible to every member of your organization, to give clear understanding to all—empowering them to do their job without constant supervision.
Things to consider as you download your business processes out of your head into a Written Operations Manual:
The words you use must plainly describe the actions and activity to be performed so any member of your organization can easily understand.
Before a new system is implemented, everyone that this system/document will affect should participate in sharing their ideas or any concerns, as it will impact their job. These same people should also be involved in the testing, revising and updating of the system.
Terminology should be consistent, whenever possible. For example, do not call an item a cell phone in one document, and then refer to it as a mobile phone in another document. When dealing with hundreds of terms it can become very confusing. Also, it’s helpful to standardize your fonts to only one or two. Be consistent.
There must be no gaps/holes in information, logic, or design.
There needs to be a way to follow up on systems to ensure that a system is being used—and used consistently. See our video on the System Buster tool.
You need to reference documents to other frequently-used documents. This will ensure they will not be lost, discarded or forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind is true!
If you are delegating the task of building, implementing and updating the system, YOU—the head of the organization—should give the final approval. And YOU need to know exactly how new systems and updates are designed to work and give your approval. It starts at the top!
Compiling and organizing of documents into an Operations Manual is called document management. We suggest keeping a hard copy of all your documents, in case of power failure or some other disaster.
Using D-ring binders, setup one binder for each department in your organization. Every document should have its own plastic sheet protector for easy removal when copying and updating.
Master Document List—in each department binder, the first plastic sheet protector should contain a printed list of all the documents contained in that binder. Like a table of contents. This document is used for assigning the next consecutive number to a new document and having all your Documents Titles and Numbers contained in one location.
It can be built in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and each department’s list of documents should have its own tab in the spreadsheet. This document is provided for System100™ Clients.
If your company is small, or you are just starting a business or organization, start with one
large D-ring binder and have tabs for each department until it becomes too full, then you can
break out each department with its own binder.
I recommend all of your documents be built in Microsoft Word. However, for very complicated
forms you may consider other design programs.
Give each document a Title and a Number, along with a Revision Date.
In assigning numbers and titles to various documents for your Operations Manual, use
common-sense. At the same time, be creative and think optimization. Just keep it simple.
When titling your document, use the Subject first in the Title, when optimal.
When numbering your document, as part of your document number, we suggest using letter
abbreviations to identify departments followed by a series of numbers with no more than four
digits (e.g. 1000, 2000, 3000, etc.) assigned to that department. For example, for Accounting,
use the initials AD and the 2000 series for numbering documents (e.g. AD-2000, AD-2001,
For Customer Service, you might use the initials CS, followed by four digits in the 7000 series
(e.g. CS-7000, CS-7001, etc.). You decide how to initialize your departments and which series
of numbers to assign. We use three digit numbers in most cases as we don’t have any one
department using anywhere close to a thousand documents. So four digits might be used for a
very large company.
There is not a set requirement in ISO to uniquely identify a document or a part. However, the
practice of giving a document or a component a number, title, revision date, and sometimes
revision level, is used in almost all documentation systems worldwide.
Ebiz Products LLC.