When you write your business procedures, how do you determine the right level of detail?

The dilemma here is that too much detail could make the document unwieldly and too little could make it useless.

So, how do you figure out the level you need? Here are a couple of prompts to help you clarify your thinking.

Start by reflecting on the level of the person that is doing the job. What is their reading level like? What is their technical level like? What is their experience?

Then, consider the procedure you need to write. How complex is the process you are documenting? Is it for entry level staff, or for more advanced users? Do the people carrying out the procedure have background knowledge (so you don’t have to ‘teach granny how to suck eggs’!)

Next, try to match the two. Or, put it another way, don’t write a highly technical document for an new starter with no experience in the business sector you operate in! Use these two prompts to help you think through your approach.

And, let’s not forget the alternatives to the written word.

You can use video instead of written words.

Or, you can use images, with highlighted elements, if you can’t get a video.

I hope this helps you with your procedure writing.

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles is a Chartered Engineer and the author of several books on process improvement including, What Does Good Look Like? and Effective SOPs.