A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Policies and Procedures

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Policies should describe an organization's standards to govern decision-making within the organization. Procedures should be action oriented, grammatically correct, and written in a consistent style and format to encourage maximum usability.



The New tekom Guideline for Safety Instructions in Operating Manuals

The EU directive 92/58/EWG of 24th June 1992 clearly defines the notification on occupational Safety and Health Safeguards. In Germany, this has been enforced through the regulations for trade associations BGV A 8 (formerly VBG 125) which regulate indication of occupational safety and health safeguards through prohibition signs, warnings, instructions or signs for action, rescue, fire protection and so on. At present there is no European standard that discusses the topic of 'Drafting Safety Instructions in Operating Manuals' adequately and in detail. Nonetheless, there are several sources but often containing only imprecise or too generalized requirements. Moreover, many judicial verdicts in various individual cases point to the manner of formulations in Safety Instructions.

Gabriel, Carl-Heinz. tekom (2004). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Standards


Non-Rule Environmental Policy: A Case Study of a Foundry Sand Land Disposal NPD   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This historical case study of a non-rule policy document (NPD) adopted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management describes an emerging genre in environmental discourse. The NPD standardizes environmental public policy for land disposal of foundry sand, a solid waste. The collaborative writing process took six months with industry input, and the NPD was presented to two environmental boards. Two contrasts, in process and format, distinguish NPDs from rules. The NPD is an entirely new kind of writing which includes guidance for implementing statutes. The writing process in the case involves government writers and industry representatives, although it does not include other public input such as public hearings. Instead, the staff of the pollution control agency simply presents the NPD to the appropriate environmental policy boards and arranges for its publication. This article adds to the body of knowledge about technical writing in government, specifically environmental policy and non-academic genres.

Griggs, Karen. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>TC>Government>Policies and Procedures


Of the Importance of Documenting

Documentation is important, from the end users to the developers, if you want your project to self sustain, if you want to ease the life of other people, and if you want your project to live a long and prosperous life. People were not in your head (and are not in your head) when you wrote that strange thing. 1-2 years from now you could be working for another company, what would be of other people who are trying to understand what you wrote? How would people easily understand how things work in a complex environment?

Casagrande, Milo. WordPress (2009). Articles>Documentation>Workflow>Policies and Procedures


Online Database of Social Media Policies

Links to 100 organizational policies about the appropriate (and acceptable) use of social media by their employees.

Social Media Governance (2009). Resources>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Social Networking


Online Documentation and Local Area Networks   (PDF)

The world of policies and procedures has grown with technology. The trend is now to move documentation from paper to electronic media. Most companies are taking advantage of this technology andpublishing their policies and procedures on their own intranet or Local Area Network. There are things to consider before choosing a product and making this drastic change. These are: Product Functionality, ReadabilityNiewability, File Portability, and Cost. Each company’s documentation requirements and busmess strategies will ultimately determine which online documentation product to choose.

Anderson, Michelle E. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Placing Policies and Procedures Online: A Practical Approach   (PDF)

Placing your company's policies and procedures online is an enormous task! Where to start is as difficult as how to do it. Migrating your policies and procedures from a paper medium to an online medium consists of obtaining (and maintaining) management and user support, working as a team player, completing extensive research for your present environment and the proposed environment), planned system development, thorough usability testing and phased implementation. Once your policies andprocedures are online, you must also track and monitor system use.

Kirtland, Donald Robert. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Management>Policies and Procedures


Plain English Is the Best Policy

The health care reform bill now under consideration in the House of Representatives includes a proposal that certain disclosures in insurance policies be made in “plain language.” Another piece of legislation now being considered by both houses of Congress would likewise require uniform and simplified coverage information, much like what’s required on nutritional labels. These are excellent proposals, but they do not go far enough. Plain-language disclosures of some policy information and consumer-friendly labels are no substitutes for making an entire policy readable.

Cogan, John Aloysius. New York Times, The (2009). Articles>Writing>Policies and Procedures>Minimalism


Plain Language Writing: From a Good Idea Emerges Good Public Policy

Peter Zvalo looks at the plain language movement, its promoters and its critics.

Zvalo, Peter. Writer's Block (2003). Articles>Writing>Policies and Procedures>Minimalism


Police Reform, Task Force Rhetoric, and Traces of Dissent: Rethinking Consensus-as-Outcome in Collaborative Writing Situations   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Pedagogical and scholarly representations of collaborative writing and knowledge construction in technical communication have traditionally recognized consensus as the logical outcome of collaborative work, even as scholars and teachers have acknowledged the value of conflict and "dissensus" in the process of collaborative knowledge building. However, the conflict-laden work product of a Denver task force charged with recommending changes to the city police department's use-of-force policy and proposing a process for police oversight retains the collaborative group's dissensus and in doing so, illustrates an alternative method of collaborative reporting that challenges convention. Such an approach demonstrates a dissensus-based method of reporting that has the potential to open new rhetorical spaces for collaborative stakeholders by gainfully extending collaborative conversations and creating new opportunities for ethos development, thus offering scholars, teachers, and practitioners a way of reimagining the trajectory and outcome of collaborative work.

Knievel, Michael. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Policies and Procedures>Government


Policies and Procedures 1995 PIC Meeting   (PDF)

This session is intended for those interested in (a) policies and procedures as a subject, (b) networking with others concerned with policies and procedures, (c) learning about this PIC, (d) influencing the direction of this PIC, or (e) listening, commenting, or volunteering. The first portion of the meeting will briefly review the PIC's history, mission, membership, budget, teams, goals, and progress. The second portion will be open to discuss new business.

Urgo, Raymond E. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


The Policies and Procedures Authority

The Policies & Procedures Authority is a quarterly newsletter, published by Urgo & Associates, for executives, managers, consultants, performance improvement specialists, instructional designers, policy and procedure analysts, technical writers, or other professionals.

Policies and Procedures Authority, The. Journals>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures Can Help Your Organization

Compliance and meeting operational needs are two very important reasons for implementing a system of policies and procedures.

Bizmanualz (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures Communication Becoming More Suitable for Learning

Three workplace trends are driving policies and procedures (P&P) communication to be more suitable for learning than classroom training: changing workforce needs; e-content availability; and changing organizational needs.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Education


Policies and Procedures for Training and Reference: One Source?

Should an organization maintain two sets of policies and procedure (P&P) information—one that is developed for training and another that is developed for on-going reference?

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Documentation>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures Writer, Analyst, or Subject Matter Expert: Who Do We Need?

Who should you contract to update an outdated policies and procedures manual–subject matter expert or a policy and procedure writer?

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Writing>Policies and Procedures>SMEs


Policies, Procedures, and Paralysis

We live in an uncertain world, and good intentions are no guarantee of success, so we develop policies and procedures to provide ourselves with a measure of security and provide the illusion of control.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (2001). Careers>Workplace>Policies and Procedures


Policy and Procedure Communication and the Lone Writer   (PDF)

As a lone writer developing policy and procedure documentation, many of us face what appear to be insurmountable hurdles in reaching our intended goal – useable documentation that accurately reflects the business’ operations. It usually begins with trying to get everyone to take the need for P & P documentation seriously. This can be followed by frustrations in getting the information required to write coherent and useful documentation. Then there is the need for standards for which no one sees the importance – ‘just a whim of the writer’. Add to this volatile mix the requirements of many international standards impacting how business is conducted, and you wonder why anyone in right mind would take up the challenges of this field of writing. But it really can be fun and a very rewarding field of endeavor.

Mason, Susan, Rich Maggiani, Julia Margulies and Ralph E. Robinson. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Business Communication


Policy and Procedure Manuals Online

Many organizations have published their policy manuals online—the following are just a few online manuals that we've found. We don’t necessarily recommend these as good manuals, but they may provide some helpful ideas about content.

Technical Communicators Resource Site (2004). Resources>Directories>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Procedures: The Sacred Cow Blocking the Road?   (PDF)

This paper questions the dominance of procedures in paper and online computer documentation and argues that the types of behavior and conditions demanded by stepped instructions are not consistent with typical user behavior. The authors suggest that the following hierarchy of information needs more accurately describes what users want to know when they ask, “How do I:” (a) What can I do? (b) Where can I do it? (c) What are the rules or principles? (d) What are the parts and their functions of the interface that does it? and (e) What are the steps?

Hughes, Michael A. and Loren Burke. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Processes, Roles, and Regulations: (Re)defining What Technical Communicators Do   (PDF)

Understanding how you work (process) and understanding what you do (roles) are two important aspects of a successful documentation group that works within a regulated environment. These items will help writers produce better documentation and provide a way to better define (or redefine) their roles in the development process.

Rupel, Roberta A. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>TC>Policies and Procedures>Regulation


Providing Job-Based Policies and Procedures that Support Compliance Requirements

Organizations develop policies and procedures to support industry certification and compliance requirements. Unfortunately, companies often develop P&P information that is not helpful to all employees who must use the information. In fact, one study found that 40 percent of U.S. companies failed ISO certification because of problems with unclear or missing P&P documentation, resulting in wasted time, money, and effort.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Documentation>Standards>Policies and Procedures


Public Rhetoric and Public Safety at the Chicago Transit Authority: Three Approaches to Accident Analysis   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article compares three rhetorical approaches to accident analysis: materialist, classical,and constructivist. The focal points for comparison are the two accident reportsissued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)—reports that attempted(and failed) to persuade the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to change a problematicpolicy about rail communication alongside its technology for rail communication. Thecentral question the article asks is, How can rhetorical theory help explain the CTA'sinaction, which ultimately led to property damage, injury, and death? Classical andconstructivist approaches, emphasizing rational deliberation between equals, on onehand, and the social construction of technical knowledge between professionals, on theother, offer plausible explanations for what went wrong. But only the materialistapproach appears capable of discerning the ideological nature of the CTA's resistance tothe NTSB's recommendations.

Coogan, David. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Risk Communication>Policies and Procedures>Government


Review: Rapid Documentation of Policies and Procedures

Rapid documentation of policies and procedures is a welcomed addition to the policies and procedures (P&P) bookshelf in that it provides an easy-to-read book with an introductory-level method for developing P&P content rapidly.

Urgo, Raymond E. Urgo and Associates (2010). Books>Reviews>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Siting a Hazardous Waste Facility: The Tangled Web of Risk Communication

Risk communication is a relatively new field of study which has been concerned with the problems arising from the communication of scientific and technical assessments of risk to various sections of the public. These problems have largely been construed as technical ones: how to transfer difficult material from 'experts' to 'people' with the maximum effectiveness and the minimum loss of accuracy and content. Perhaps because technical or practical concerns have dominated, debates which have occurred in the literature of risk analysis have apparently had little impact on the field of risk communication.

Beder, Sharon and Michael Shortland. University of Wollongong (1992). Articles>Risk Communication>Government>Policies and Procedures


Social Media Policies: An Introduction

Despite what some people say, rules still apply when it comes to social media. Policies provide structure—for you and for your colleagues/employees.

Fleet, Dave. SlideShare (2009). Presentations>Workplace>Policies and Procedures>Social Networking



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