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6 Handy Tools and Resources to Create an Effective SOP Manual

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Office Management

6 handy tools and resources to create an effective SOP manual

By Patricia Robb

With a standard operating procedures manual in hand, you and your organization will have the peace of mind of knowing that someone could step in and fulfill your responsibilities without causing a major disruption to your department or to business operations. These tools and resources will help when you're putting together your SOP manual:

An Activity Log

In a procedures manual you need to document all the tasks you do. However, since some activities are routine, you can easily lose track of them. The best way to sort it out is to start keeping an activity log. An activity log is simple, easy to use and can become a valuable tool.

You should print a copy of the activity log and keep it in a prominent place at your desk. When you perform a task, quickly jot it down, along with the time spent on the activity. If you track what you do for a few weeks, you'll note not only the routine things you do, but also other tasks—such as preparation time, special projects and other areas of your job—that you might have missed otherwise. The information you gather from the activity log will help you get started on what to cover in your SOP manual, and you can start populating the draft table of contents with these items.

When you're out of the office, it's nice to be missed. But it's nicer when things can run smoothly so you don't return to a pile of problems or unhandled business. Make it easier on everyone with Developing an Effective Administrative Procedures Manual.

Your Job Description

An obvious resource for your procedures manual—but one often forgotten—is your job description or the position profile. It will give you a good idea of the basic duties required for the job. You should review the tasks noted in your job description and include those in your draft table of contents for the manual.

Checklists and Templates

Checklists can be invaluable as a way to document processes and as a reminder of next steps. Whenever you work your way through a process, write it down and turn it into a checklist. It will help not only the next person, but you as well the next time you have to perform that same task.

You should include checklists in your SOP manual. The same applies for any templates you have created, or the company prefers you to use, such as templates for meeting minutes, agendas, electronic letterhead or a standard letter or email. I would suggest adding them as appendices so they are easily accessible to use. Or, if you don't include them in your manual, you should refer to them and provide links to the location of those documents.

A smoothly operating office is a sign of a prepared and polished professional who has the best interests of his or her co-workers and company at heart. Develop an administrative procedures binder that puts everyone on the same page.

Screenshots

The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words can be summed up in a screenshot. Just as with checklists and templates, using a screenshot can save you time when creating your manual. Screenshots can explain a process without a lot of writing, and they're easy for the reader to follow because they have a picture of the information you want to convey.

Signs and Instructions

Not all procedures need to be put in your manual. Instead, you can create them as signs and instructions to post where needed throughout the office.

Using Your Network

Another source of information and ideas on topics to include in your procedures manual is through your networks. You can go online and start a discussion on the topic or do a search for information. Or, you can ask for suggestions and recommendations from other admins in your organization or members of a professional association, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

Also, if you have the opportunity to meet with the person who previously held the job, she would be a valuable source of information.

If you had to miss work for a week… two weeks… or even a month, could your co-workers or manager step in and fulfill your responsibilities, WITHOUT a major interruption to your office or business?

Are the processes and procedures that you do each day documented for easy reference? What if a natural disaster occurs? Are you prepared?

To help you develop an effective administrative procedures binder, we've teamed up with admin expert Julie Perrine in a new interactive webinar, Developing an Effective Administrative Procedures Manual.

Join us Wednesday, September 2, and you'll learn:
  • 5 simple steps to get you started creating your administrative procedures binder
  • Julie PerrineThe appropriate items to include in your administrative procedures binder
  • How to document understandable processes and procedures
  • How to maintain your administrative procedures binder in hard copy and electronic formats
  • And more!
Register for this interactive event now!
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