In recent posts, we’ve been describing different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online.
Here’s an example of a staff handbook that has been converted from Word to a responsive web layout.
The home page provides links to the main sections in the handbook. In this example, we also changed many of the sentences that were in the passive voice to the active voice.
We could have made more improvements:
- Added colour to highlight what staff must do.
- Provided links to related applications and forms.
- Added images and flowcharts.
The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone or a tablet.
In recent posts, we’ve been describing the different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online. Often, organisations want to write their content in Microsoft Word, as staff are familiar with the application. However, they also want a very nice, and usable, online version.
Here’s an example of a direct conversion from Word to HTML.
Before – Example Mobile Phone Policy IT-0022-v2
After – Mobile phone policy – written in Word and converted to HTML
In this example, we have not amended the source content before conversion, nor the default template. We just imported the document and pressed the Build button.
The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone.
The writers would make any changes to the policy by amending the Word document. You’d then run the conversion again, and upload the revised web pages.
No one yet knows what impact Brexit will have on how UK businesses operate. It seems very likely that the way they export will change. There is a good chance there will be forms to fill in, and other steps to complete, in order to get goods, services and people across borders. This will mean policies and procedures will need to be amended, so that staff carry out these steps in the correct way.
While we do not know yet what those changes will be, organisations can take steps today to ensure they’ll be able to change their policies and procedures documents quickly and easily. They can also start work on having information that is easy to understand and find.
This involves making sure it’s clear who is responsible for each step in the process. You may need to provide a description of the whole process as well as the individual steps themselves. You might also need staff to understand changes quickly, so web or video based content might be better than PDFs or printed manuals. As is often the case, a modular approach to writing may be the best solution.
See also: Policies and procedures writing services
Our next policies and procedures writing course will be held on Monday 11th April.
Discover how to create clear and effective policies and procedures. This course teaches your staff how to write clear and effective policies and procedures, in a straightforward and efficient way.
Cherryleaf’s first public policies and procedures writing course will be held on the 24th November 2015, at our training centre in central London (SW7).
Discover how to create clear and effective policies and procedures. Cherryleaf’s policies and procedures course teaches your staff how to write clear and effective policies and procedures, in a straightforward and efficient way. This course is for anyone involved in writing or editing policies and procedures.
Places are limited to a maximum of 10 delegates.
This weekend, we went to the Fabularium on London’s South Bank, where the programme highlighted The Museum of Almost Forgotten Things. It struck me that this concept could also be applied to technical communication. The impetus to write things down, to document policies and procedures and to write user documentation for software written in a Sprint, is often due to organisations worrying that important information might be soon forgotten. Technical Authors often capture and record almost forgotten things. They might, however, object to the word “museum”, because they are working with how things are today much more than how things were in the past. So perhaps “palace” could be an alternative word to use.
Ben Haggerty, the storyteller whom we saw perform, started by trying to discover who we, the audience, were. He quoted a west African saying that there are four types of people in the world:
Those that know and know that they know. These are called teachers, and should be respected.
Those that know, but don’t know that they know. These people are asleep.
Those that don’t know, and know they don’t know. These people are students.
Those that don’t know, but don’t know they don’t know. And there are 630 of them sitting in the House of Commons on the other side of the Thames.
It’s interesting to see how close this old African saying is to competency models used in training today: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence.
The UK’s Government Digital Service has been doing great work in putting users’ needs before the needs of government, so it was a shock to see the revised tax manuals the GDS and HMRC published recently.
In the GDS blog post, First HMRC manual on GOV.UK – give us your feedback, Till Worth explained:
“HMRC has built a new publishing system which makes it easier for its tax experts to update and maintain the content of the manuals. Tax agents, accountants and specialists need to be able to see the tax manuals exactly how HMRC publishes them internally, so the GDS team knew we couldn’t touch the content. We did create a new design for the manuals to make them more user-friendly and bring them in line with GDS design principles.”
From what I can see, there’s been two changes:
- New look and feel
- Changes to the navigation and search
Continue reading “The sad case of GDS and the tax manuals”
Imagine you are an IT manager for an organisation that has been implementing new IT systems. You have now reached the point where you need to create and document the new IT policies and procedures. The organisation already has some general policies for IT in its staff handbook, but you need to provide more detailed information on how to use the organisation’s IT efficiently and securely.
For example, the staff handbook tells staff that customer information must be treated confidentially and only approved communication channels must used. The IT policy and procedures document will provide more detail – that web email services (such as Yahoo Mail) must not be used to send customer information, because they often store a copy of the email even if you have deleted your sent message.
The best approach would be to have some sections in both the staff handbook and the IT policy document. In other words, the same content in different documents. Otherwise, staff would need to have two manuals open each time they wanted to check they were doing things correctly.
If you use Word, you’re likely to do this by coping the text from one Word document and pasting it into the other Word document. The problem with this approach is that when you make a change to the text, you need to remember to paste any amended sections into the other document. This make it very difficult to create customised variations of documents, such as cut down versions for managers or new staff, branch-specific versions etc. It becomes unmanageable.
One of the benefits of using some of the alternatives to Word is you can embed a piece of information into multiple documents. In a similar way to how you can use the same image in lots of different web pages, you can use the same chunk of text in lots of different documents. The advantage of this approach is that in the future you’ll only need to change the source, embedded chunk of text when it’s time to make a revision. That piece of text gets updated automatically (or semi-automatically) in all the documents that use it.