Why Write a Manual?

Purpose

This article will give you insight into why people write manuals.

For information on how to write a manual, see “How to Write a Manual“.

Overview

There are many reasons why you may need to write a manual. Maybe you:

  • Have to fulfill a regulatory requirement
  • Want to establish prestige
  • Are concerned about covering  your behind
  • Need to help your employees do a better job

Regulatory requirement

Sometimes a customer, or a governmental regulator, will require you to have a manual that covers safety, operations, or some other topic that is applicable to your business or product.

Says Jody Grimes, owner of Grimes Industrial:

“In 2007, I opened a structural and industrial sheet metal fabrication shop right near downtown Houston.  We really were pushing hard in sales and marketing, only to find that time and time again companies were simply not even interested in talking with you if you didn’t have a quality system in place.  One of the first questions we were continuously being asked was, “Do you have a quality manual?”

We were in the process of making our final revisions to our quality system during our start-up. Fortunately for us, it didn’t take us long to complete it and fully implement our system into our daily operations.   Upon completion, we immediately began landing new customers, simply because our answer to that once-dreadful question became, “Yes, we do have a quality manual.  Would you like to receive an uncontrolled copy?”

Prestige

This really relates to the previous section, at least in part. Having a manual earns you respect.

And if you have a good manual, one other companies look at as a standard, then that’s even better. I have worked with clients who have drawn up their manuals based in large part on a gold standard manual produced by another company. That’s the kind of respect you want to generate in the market.

Cover your behind

This one may sound cheap. But it’s real. If one of your employees breaks a clearly communicated policy, and gets hurt, or hurts your company, you need something to fall back on. You need to be able to say “See here? You were clearly told not to do that, on page 12 of  our employee manual.” A 2011 study by the Ponemon Institute showed that it pays to head off issues ahead of time.

But spelling out policies clearly has much deeper benefits than simply covering your rear.

Help employees

What you’re actually after is helping your employees work honestly and efficiently. As Kristy Bolsinger wrote recently, “You may want to build out and document for your organization in order to increase efficiency, maintain consistency and aid in turnover or attrition.”

By documenting key processes, procedures, and policies correctly and clearly, you can help your employees become safer and more effective.

One response

  1. […] To learn more about why companies write manuals, see “Why Write a Manual”. […]

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