When you think “documentation,” what springs to mind? Whether you think of employee handbooks, operating procedures, or the instructions to build your TV stand, you’re not wrong! But there might be a few types of documents you’re forgetting, too.
Your business can likely benefit from more documentation that is both clear and concise. But just how many types of manuals, policies, and more can you get by working with a technical writing team? We outlined them below.
A policy is a document that is required for an organization to be compliant within an industry or with a government agency. Policies outline standards and guidelines to meet these needs and help ensure that your employees are all following them. Policies promote best practices, set expectations, and promote consistency. Some common words you might see in these documents are ensure, required, provide, and prohibit.
There are several company policies that organizations should have (some required by law), including Equal Employment Opportunity policies, a workplace health and safety policy, an ethics policy, substance abuse policies, employee complaint policies, and more. These can all be placed in an employee handbook.
An Example of a Policy
[Company] prohibits the use of illegal drugs and alcohol on premises, and the use, sale, or possession of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs on premises will result in disciplinary action. Employees are required to undergo a drug test every six months.
Standards, an aspect of policies, are rules or mandatory actions. Standards dictate what the employee should do or should not do, in very clear terms. Standards promote safety and the organizations’ policies and protect equipment.
Common words in a standard are never, provide, required, rule, must, and shall.
An Example of a Standard
Never operate the forklift without training or authorization. Managers are responsible for providing the required training.
Guidelines are also a part of policies, but, unlike standards, they are not mandatory. They instead recommend actions or tasks to support the policy in question. Guidelines tend to be best practices and their use should result in improved safety and lower costs.
In a guideline, you might see the words should, can, and may.
An Example of a Guideline
Employees should notify their manager, if possible, before they take a vehicle out with a customer for a test drive.
Processes outline the steps needed to take place to achieve a goal. This could be a series of events or phases and may include handovers if multiple departments or people need to be involved in the process. Processes can be written, displayed as flow charts, or both.
This type of documentation tends to use action verbs like make, process, and ship, among others.
An Example of a Process
Step 1: Retrieve customer information, including payment
Step 2: Process order
Step 3: Make product
Step 4: Ship goods
Step 5: Complete transaction
Procedures are processes that are broken down and repeatable. Usually presented as steps, they’ll detail each step required to complete the task at hand. Like processes, they can involve more than one person. They also have action verbs, but in procedures they will be bold and in caps.
An Example of a Procedure
Contacting a customer about a shipment
Step 1: INTRODUCE yourself to the customer.
Step 2: VERIFY you are talking to the correct person.
Step 3: INFORM them about the status of their order or shipment.
Step 4: PROVIDE them with necessary information including tracking numbers.
Step 5: ANSWER any further questions they may have.
Work instructions are directions on how to complete a task or job, but, unlike procedures and processes, they are for a single person only. They can work as training tools as well as job aids that employees can reference later if they need to clarify information. Work instructions use action verbs and references that are in caps and bolded.
An Example of Work Instructions
Saving a document
Step 1: In MICROSOFT WORD, CLICK the FILE TAB
Step 2: CLICK SAVE AS
Step 3: ENTER FILE NAME using document code, date, and employee number
Step 4: CHANGE type of document to DOCX
Step 5: CLICK the SAVE button
Records are types of documentation that include checklists, forms, surveys, and more. They can also be used to record completed procedures or tasks that require work instructions. These documents ensure that tasks are being completed correctly, efficiently, and on time.
An Example of a Record
Car Detailing Form
|Employee Name||Vehicle||Cleaning Products Used||Further Work Needed (If applicable)||Manager Initials|
The different types of documentation can certainly feel overwhelming, but each is necessary. They not only ensure you’re compliant with industry laws, but they also provide necessary instructions to your employees, improve profits, and increase productivity. Here is a printable version of Document Types with additional examples.
Is it time to use all these document types to improve your business’s effectiveness and efficiency? Shea Writing & Training Solutions works with companies to craft well-written, straightforward documentation with clarity in mind. Curious about the types of policies, records, and more that we offer our clients? Check out just some of our services here.