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Guidelines : Procedures



  • Give an overview of what the procedures cover, whether this is a new or revised procedure, when the procedure applies, why the procedural change, and who is involved. Any time you require employees to learn a new procedure, they want to know, “Why bother?” Also, when readers understand the “why” behind procedures and how they fit into the big picture, they can make better judgments about exceptions or problems that develop. The actual steps of the procedure then will be the expanded “action” of the basic format.
  • Use the subject line to show whether this is a new or a revised procedure or only documentation of the present procedure.
  • Begin at the beginning. Be careful regarding assumptions about the reader’s knowledge. In fact, in most procedural writing, you should visualize yourself talking to the least-knowledgeable person who must follow your instructions.
  • Give steps in chronological order.
  • Identify each step that is a revision of existing procedure, explaining the purpose of the change.
  • Highlight prominently any safety precautions or problems that may develop. If precautions are lengthy, promise specific details later in the chronological procedural step.
  • Indicate each action in a separate sentence. Be particularly careful about linking phrases, items, and clauses with the word “and.” Usually a more specific linking word is called for. For example: “Press the EV button and eject the tape.” Is this one action or two? If you mean two separate actions, put them in separate sentences. If there is a time relationship, say, “Press the EV button. Then eject the tape.” If there’s a cause-and-effect relationship, say, “Press the EV button, thus ejecting the tape” or “To eject the tape, press the EV button.”
  • Give illustrations or examples for complicated steps or explanations.
  • Acknowledge and note exceptions immediately after each step to which they apply.
  • Use active-voice verbs. Because phrases telling who does what often sound awkward, writers are tempted to drop them out. That’s dangerous: Who does what is particularly important in procedures. Not: “Any emergency work orders should be brought to the attention of the maintenance supervisor for immediate action,” but: “Each engineer should bring any emergency work order to the attention of the maintenance supervisor for immediate action.” Or “Bring any emergency work orders to the attention of the maintenance supervisor for immediate action.” (The command form of the verb here indicates the reader is the one who does the action.)
  • Use headings, lists, or any creative design that will help the reader move quickly through the procedure to skim or relocate information.

Example 1: Introduce procedure letter





SUBJECT: Change in Procedure for Medical History and Physical Examination Records

We will no longer place employees’ medical history and physical examination forms in their personnel file. Rather, when these forms are completed and returned to you, you should file them separately according to the following procedure:

a. Record employee’s name on the physical examination form and medical history log sheet located in File Drawer C. Record in chronological order by the dates the completed forms are returned to you. (Note: Previously, we have filed these by date of exam shown on the form.)

b. File the actual medical history or exam forms alphabetically by employee’s last name in the expanding file in the records section, eighth floor.

c. When an employee terminates, remove the employee’s name from the chronological list in File Drawer C. Remove his or her medical history and exam form from the alphabetical expanding file and place it in his or her personnel folder filed in the inactive section, File Drawer D.

This change has been made so departmental heads reviewing a file to fill a vacancy will not permit an employee’s medical history to influence decisions on transfers or promotions.

Example 2: New procedures for reporting





SUBJECT: New Procedures for Reporting Flow-Computer Failures

Because of the 15 additional computers to be installed this year, verbal reports of failures are no longer adequate to keep records up-to-date in our headquarters office or to ensure proper maintenance. Therefore, we have established the following procedures for reporting on failures. Use the enclosed Flow Computer Inspection (FCI) form for developing this information.

Please note we have outlined the steps to be taken even before you attempt to get the computer up and running and report the failure to headquarters:

Steps to Get Computer Up and Running

(Note: If another employee is present, ask him or her to witness your inspection and cold start.)

1. Check CRT and note what is being displayed on the entire screen (Item 3 on the form).

2. If a request for programming is on the screen, note the date and time being displayed. Then record the actual date and time (Item 4 on the form).

3. If the screen is locked on any other display, note which display, along with the date and time being displayed (Item 5 on the form).

4. Note whether the clock or computer is running (Item 6 on the form).

5. Go through a cold start. If the computer cannot be restarted at this time, check all voltages supplied to the cards (Item 8 on the form).

6. When the computer is running, complete the remainder of the information on the FCI form. If you cannot start the computer, call headquarters and wait for further instructions.

Steps for Making Verbal Report and Submitting Flow-Computer Inspection Form

1. Call the clerk at extension 4489 to report the failure, being prepared to give the information you have recorded on the FCI form.

2. Record the failure on the log kept at your site.

3. Send the original FCI form and a printout at the time of the failure to Bob Duffy in Fort Worth. Make sure the printout contains a variable dump. This variable dump will help us to verify the constants being used in the volume calculation and possibly to locate past incorrect entries. Keep the pink copy for your records. Give the green copy to the inspection witness (if one was present at the time you attempted to restart the computer).

We have attached a sample completed form reporting the last failure at your site. If you have any questions about the reporting procedure or form, call us (ext. 4884).

Example 3: Document samples for company policies





SUBJECT: Documentation of Present Procedures for Purchase of All Materials and Supplies

Origination of Purchase Request

As materials and supplies are needed, prepare a purchase request by way of memo and submit it to the Purchasing Department. In your memo, give all the following information:

• Type and grade of material or supplies
• Quantity
• Technical specifications sheet, if necessary
• Date the material is needed
• Estimated cost
• Signature of approval by appropriate manager

Purchasing Department Procedures

Step Action

1. Purchasing agent logs in the request and assigns a buyer.

2. Buyer checks the material request for corrections or other necessary information from the requester.

3. Buyer requests and selects single or multiple bids as follows:

a. When dollar value is less than $500, he will solicit only single bids, even on competitive materials.

b. Bids for technical material will be pre-determined by the material itself. If single source, he will solicit only one bid. If of a competitive nature, he will solicit multiple bids.

c. If the material is technical, buyer transmits specification sheets to the bidder.

d. Buyer reviews and analyzes all bids received, preparing and issuing a purchase order to the selected vendor.

4. Clerks type all purchase orders placed by buyers and distribute copies to all appropriate parties (buyer, vendor, requester of materials).

5. Clerks confirm to the requester by way of Form MS 200 the promised shipment date.

6. Clerks file confirmations with the original purchase orders issued by the buyer.

Example 4: Procedures and policies letter





SUBJECT: New Phone System

We have installed a new phone system with a greater number of incoming lines to meet our growing company’s needs. Each work station will receive a new telephone by tomorrow morning. As a result, several of the options you currently have on your phones will be changed. The following functions will be affected.

Placing An Incoming Call On Hold
Previously, you pressed *96 to place an incoming call on hold. With the new phones, simply press the Hold key, which will be the third option button. The option pad is located on the left side of your telephone. The phone monitor will display the Message, “Call Placed On Hold.” To return to the call simply press the Clear key at the top of the option pad.

Transferring A Call To Another Person
While all extension numbers will remain the same, the steps for transferring have changed.
1. Place the call on Hold.
2. Press the Transfer Key (second key on option pad).
3. Press *, enter the extension number, then press #.
4. The phone monitor will display either the “Call Transferred” message or the “Transfer Unsuccessful.”
If you receive the “Transfer Unsuccessful” message, immediately press the Clear key, confirm that the customer is still on the line, then repeat steps 1-4.

Speed Dialing
Unfortunately, we have had to change our speed dialing codes. You will receive a new list of all speed dialing codes with your new telephone. Your long distance access codes will remain the same. To speed dial, follow these steps:
1. Press Speed Dial key (fourth key on option pad).
2. Phone monitor will display “Enter Code Now.”
3. Enter client’s code, then press #.
4. If the call is long distance, an automated voice will ask for your access code.
5. Enter your access code, then press #.

Receiving Your Messages
With the new system, you will no longer have to check periodically for messages. Instead, the phone monitor will flash the message “Message Received.” If you are on another call and wish to turn off the flashing display, simply press *00*. The steps for retrieving messages are as follows:

1. Press Message key (fifth key on option pad).
2. An automated voice will ask for your password.
3. Enter your password, then press #.
4. The automated voice will tell you how many massages you have.
5. To listen to the message press 1. To repeat the message, press 2. To save the message, press 3. To delete the message, press 4.
6. To hear the next message press *. Choose from the appropriate choices in step
5. You will have to press 1 in order to hear each message!
7. To complete your message check, press the End key (last key on option pad).

Calling Other Work Stations

1. Press the In Office key (sixth key on option pad).
2. Dial extension.
3. The phone monitor will display the name of the person you are calling. If the person is on another line, it will display an “On Another Call” message.

Example 5: Change in policy





SUBJECT: Change in injury and/or accident reporting

Due to the number of false injury and accident claims being filed nation-wide, our insurance company will be installing monitor cameras in each work area. These videos will be reviewed by the insurance adjuster only. This does mean, however, that supervisors will have to revise their reporting procedures. New Injury and Accident Forms will be issued. While most of the information on the form is the same, the following items have changed.

A. After attending to the needs of the injured person, go to monitor control (to be installed in each section’s supervisor office) and record the display screen’s camera number, tape number, and timer number in Section I as items 1, 2, & 3 respectively, on the new form.

B. Calculate the approximate amount of time that has elapsed since the injury or accident occurred. Record the time in Section I, item 4, of the new form.

The rest of the form has not been updated. Fill it out according to the usual procedures.

Example 6: Samples for company policies





SUBJECT: Change In Issued Safety Clothing For Sections 2, 5 & 11

After our last safety inspection, which was conducted by Garner & Sons, we have decided that the following gear, which was optional, will now be mandatory in Sections 2, 5 & 11. All persons working in these sections MUST be wearing the gear in order to be able to clock in for work.

Heavy duty hard hats. To be supplied by company. See Jana in Supplies.

Steel toed work boots. To be supplied by employee.
Take receipt to Ken in Accounting to be reimbursed for cost.

Leather work gloves. To be supplied by company. See Jana in Supplies.

If you were using the gear already and wish to have worn gear replaced, see Jana. For those of you who purchased boots previously and now have no receipt, see Ken. He will base your reimbursement off of the current prices for the brand of boots you have purchased.

Example 7: Sample letter to clients about changing companies





SUBJECT: Change in Return Goods Policy

Previously, we have taken back any returned goods that customers bring to the Customer Service Desk. However we find that we are receiving an increasing amount of merchandise that has been obviously used. Therefore, we are updating the following policies.

Exchanges will now only be granted on merchandise that still has the tag on it, is unopened, is obviously damaged through no fault of the customer or has a receipt accompanying it. We will only accept opened merchandise with a receipt that is less than 5 days old.

Refunds will now only be granted for defective merchandise. If a person has received a duplicate of an item at a party, etc. they can no longer be granted a refund. Inform them that they may exchange it for merchandise of equal or greater value. They will be required to pay any remaining balance on the item they chose in exchange. We will accept merchandise for exchange only if it still has the tag on it, is unopened, is obviously damaged through no fault of the customer or has a receipt accompanying it.

If you have an item in either of these categories that is questionable, or a customer who is unhappy with the new policies, please call a supervisor immediately. The supervisor will handle such situations for you.

Example 8: Smoking policy





SUBJECT: New Smoking Areas

Due to the recent change in legislation, employees are no longer allowed to smoke in most areas of the building. Employees will now be able to smoke only in the following locations:

a. Outside of the West Entrance. We have provided several small benches and trash cans with ash tray tops beneath the overhang.

b. 3rd and 6th floor break rooms.

Smoking in the lunchrooms, bathrooms, non-smoking designated break rooms or your workstation is strictly prohibited.

Example 9: Company procedures





SUBJECT: Change in Faxing Procedures

We are now networked to send your faxes directly to your work station computer. This means less paper clutter and no more running to the receptionist’s desk to send your faxes. Your software will allow you to:

1. Receive notification of each incoming fax.
2. Update, revise or respond directly on the fax that has been sent to you.
3. Save the fax in a correspondence folder (Please create a back-up disk).
4. Fax the changed document back from your computer.
5. Check the Mail Board to ascertain the transmission status of your fax.

Please study the user’s manual you will find in your mail room box. We will hold a brief training session with Eric on Monday morning at 8:00 in conference room 1. Have your questions ready.

Example 10: Procedures





SUBJECT: Change In Filing Procedures

To facilitate accessibility to our purchasing files, we are asking that the following changes be made.

1. When filing the paperwork for the new order please make sure that it is filed by purchase order number rather than by entry date.

2. The lowest purchase order number should be to the back of the file, with each ascending purchase order number being placed towards the front.

Return all updated or notated files to their proper place!

3. If a company assigns branch numbers for its various offices, use an expandable hanging file for the company, with sub-files for each branch. Follow steps 1 & 2 for each sub-file. Place sub-files in alphabetical order, suing the branch locations (i.e. Arkadelphia, Conway, Texarkana).

By following this filing system, we will make it easier for our customer service and sales representatives to locate a file when a customer calls in.


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