When was the last time your operation manual was updated? Has it been months, years, even a decade? If it has been over a year, it’s likely out of date and in desperate need of some revisions. But why should you update your operation manuals, even if “only a few things” are no longer relevant? And what exactly goes into an update? And how often should you update your operation manual? Continue reading to get the answer to all three of these questions, plus how regular content audits can help you stay on track for success!
Why Should I Update My Operation Manual?
Your operation manual may only be a few years old, but a lot has likely changed in your organization and the industry as a whole since it was originally written. On the surface, this may seem like only a few changes here and there, but it’s likely your out of date manual has other glaring errors or problems that could put your work or even your business in jeopardy.
Here are four reasons you may be in desperate need of an operation manual update today:
You’re No Longer Meeting Industry Standards and Regulations or Local, State, and Federal Laws
Operation manuals are required throughout a number of industry standards, but that doesn’t mean they can be written however the organization chooses. They have to adhere to several mandatory regulations, meaning they have to contain specific information. Failing to meet these standards and regulations can lead to heavy fines or even the closure of your business.
Updating your operation manual ensures compliance within an industry, even as regulations and laws change over the years.
You’re Not Retaining Tribal Knowledge
When your employees retire or leave for another company, what knowledge are they taking with them? This is known as tribal knowledge, and failing to write it down can lead to a loss of information over time. If an employee retired tomorrow, details about clients, the machinery, and more will get lost forever with their departure.
By updating your operating manual, you can gather and retain that tribal knowledge, ensuring it’s passed onto future employees.
You’re Failing to Maintain Consistency Across Your Business, Internal Operations, and Brand
If your business works across several sites, consistency is essential to the customer experience. Your operation manuals, therefore, need to be consistent, as well. Updates also mean you’ll be consistent across the board when it comes to brand materials and information.
Internal standards and operations can also change. If an internal operation has adjusted over the past year, but your manual doesn’t reflect that, you could have an employee follow the wrong procedure if they refer to that out of date document. Training isn’t enough – your documentation needs to keep up with your business operations, too.
Contact Information is No Longer Up to Date
Contact information such as email addresses or phone numbers can often change. If you have emergency numbers, contact details, or emergency procedures in your operation manuals, these need to be regularly updated, especially as people retire or move to different positions. Failing to have the correct information in your manuals could lead to some serious problems, especially in the face of an emergency.
What Goes Into an Operation Manual Update?
An operation manual update may seem simple, but it’s actually more complicated than businesses realize – especially if more than just the phone numbers need to be adjusted. Information needs to be regularly updated, revised, added, or entirely removed in a timely manner to make sure your business is able to operate as needed and also be equipped in the event of problems or an emergency.
As a result, efficiency is essential when it comes to updating operation manuals. This is where a Comment Tracker, like the Track Change feature in MS Word, can come in handy. A Comment Tracker allows your organization to have rolling content audits as changes are needed to your documentation, while ensuring only those who need access have it.
How Often Should I Update My Operation Manual?
While a Comment Tracker and rolling updates can prove useful for a number of organizations, it is not ideal for every company out there. Some may not have the resources to put towards these regular revisions. So, if you can’t provide rolling content updates, how often should you update your operation manual?
Shea Writing and Training Solutions recommends updating your online operation manuals every quarter. For print based documents, we recommend annual updates.
Work with Shea to Get Regularly Scheduled Content Audits
As the content of this post reveals, operation manual updates take time. Many businesses simply don’t have the time to put towards rolling updates or even quarterly or annual revisions. However, these updates are necessary to comply with industry specific requirements, meet customer satisfaction expectations, and ensure employee safety.
Working with Shea Writing and Training Solutions, however, gives you an easy route to regularly scheduled content audits. We work with companies to write, review, revise, and update their operation manuals and other necessary documents to ensure the content is up to date with industry regulations, internal procedures, local, state, and federal laws, and changing software. We have done it all before. Take a look at this case study.
Our expert writers have collected decades of industry best practices that will be used to organize, format, write, and edit your operation manuals. You can rest assured that your manuals will be easy to follow and understand, while also containing the necessary information you need to do your work.
If your operation manual is several years old, it’s time for an update. Failing to do so can result in serious consequences for your organization, even if you think the changes are small. Crossing out old information and writing in the new details won’t cut it. We highly recommend quarterly and annual reviews of your content.
If you want to get on top of your operation manuals and other documentation necessary to run your business, we’d love to discuss your current approach and options. You can get started with Shea by simply contacting us at 713-723-9142 or by using our contact form here.