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.
Have you struggled with job position names and titles in your policies and procedures (P&P) content? Here are several style rules to follow.
Sun Microsystems' policies about employee blogging: "You are encouraged to tell the world about your work, without asking permission first, but we expect you to read and follow the advice in this note."
TCeurope, the umbrella organization of European associations for technical communication, is helping with the development of a European guideline on user education for mobile terminals and e-services. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute invited TCeurope to a joint workshop in French Sophia Antipolis, where the draft was discussed intensely.
Because the nature of ethics information is highly abstract and related to integrity, it is based upon judgment and therefore subject to varying interpretations by employees. To increase common understanding and consistent interpretations, the use of language, choice of words, sentence formation, and presentation style are important.
From mega-mergers to dwindling defense contracts, companies are dealing with a very different business environment than of decades past. To remain competitive, companies are implementing process improvement programs that encompass the ‘big picture’, and are not focusing on just one segment of company operations. This trend toward mega-process improvements has resulted in companies developing policies and procedures that reflect a flexible, process oriented approach, instead of the traditional, organizationally oriented procedures.
This article discusses public policy writing as a genre of technical communication and, specifically, public policy development as a technological process. It cites DeGregori’s theory of technology to demonstrate the shared invention processes of technology and public policy, the work of public policy scholars to describe the policy-development process, and the work of human—computer interaction scholars to identify cognitive models of public policy development as a technological process. The article concludes with a discussion of e-rulemaking Web sites and the role of technical communicators in creating these blended spaces.
As a policies and procedures (P&P) practitioner, do you delve into P&P content development projects without a clear understanding of the organizational context? Astute P&P practitioners add more than documentation skills to assignments--they apply an understanding of the organizational context from three perspectives.
Most university Web accessibility policies fall short of achieving their purpose. The Web sites of these universities often fail to meet minimum Web accessibility standards. Part of the problem lies with the policies themselves. Many of them fail to delineate a specific technical standard, fail to indicate whether compliance with the policy is required, fail to indicate a timeline or deadline for compliance, fail to define a system for evaluating or monitoring compliance, and fail to enumerate any consequences for failure to comply.
More accurately described as suggestions than policies, since many institutions do not have any binding formal policy. Where multiple documents were found on the institution's Web site, multiple links were included in this list.
Moving policies and procedures to a corporate web site can improve an ineffective and inefficient delivery system of paper in a three-ring binder. The advantages of online delivery outweigh the disadvantages. Using a general problem solving process, the team that produced this output included customer surveys to determine that a web site was the best way to solve existing delivery problems. The team continues to evaluate the end result, attempting to improve the delivery method.
Formal Web Governance is a way to mitigate risks and liabilities associated with large Web sites. Using a framework to develop and document Web-specific policies and standards creates a playbook by which an organization can manage its Web presence.
Your organization needs procedures. While development and implementation can be a challenging project, there are dividends and returns on your investment if you understand why you are writing them and what you expect to achieve by documenting your processes.
I saw this question posed in a discussion on LinkedIn, and thought that it deserved an answer from an IT Process Automation (ITPA) perspective. One respondent to the question stated it well: "The answer is simple, if there is not a common bond and governance mechanism between process documentation and the technology that is executing the process, the documentation eventually atrophies and collects dust." In my days as an independent ITIL consultant, I found that training and getting personnel to use process as part of their daily routine was at least as difficult as maintaining and updating process documentation. There is a chasm between theory and practice when it comes to process execution.
The Playscript procedure writing style is widely known for its plain language, content organization, readability and usability for all kinds of audiences. Developed by Leslie Matthies over 40 years ago, Playscript has been used by hundreds of leading (and other) organizations worldwide as their procedure standard. Major consulting firms have trained their professional staff in its use as a primary work process documentation technique. Extending several of Playscript’s design elements to policy writing provides an organization with policies and procedures that have a uniform look and feel. A leading publisher recently did this, using Playscript as the style model for their commercially produced Controller's Policies and Procedures Manual.
Ask ordinary citizens for an example of unreadable prose, and half of them will show you a government document; the other half will point to something written by a lawyer. As a government lawyer for more than 30 years, I wrote and reviewed safety regulations and technical policies and procedures for a major federal agency and eventually supervised other lawyers who did the same. Although I never met a technical document I didn't have the urge to rewrite, I always thought that what my fellow lawyers wrote was pretty clear. Then the plain-language movement came along, and I found I had a lot of room for improvement.
Over the years, I have had several enlightening and eventful encounters as I helped to develop organization policies and procedures. Most recently, when we voted to approve the revised mission statement for our business school, faculty members cheered and uttered sighs of relief. For months, we had debated every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph in the many drafts we created. We were often reminded that the statement should conform to the mission of the larger university and that it should be readily understood by the average reader. The most contentious issue was how we could articulate the historical legacy of the minority-serving institution yet focus on its future as a full-fledged member of a highly regarded university system. We sought the advice of the chancellor, provost, advisory board, students, community members, and business owners, among others.
This study explores two cases of professional communication among U.S. and South American personnel in one multinational organizaton in Quito, Ecuador. The results suggest that implicit in U.S. rhetorics of professional communication are valorizations of writing as a mechanism of regulating behavior; of universalism and individual reference points as rhetorical strategies; and of common-law or precedent-setting logic as compositional and interpretive strategies. However, many South American personnel seem predisposed to think of personal interactions as a mechanism of regulating behavior; of particular and collective reference points as rhetorical strategies; and of civil law logic as compositional and interpretive strategies. Thus, widespread claims about the roles of writing to construct, mediate, or regulate organizational behavior need to be contextualized in the predominant rhetorical values of the organizational context.
The recent rash of high-profile computer viruses and attacks has further exposed troubling weaknesses in computer security. The media and even some computer security experts would have us believe that hackers are the primary culprits against whom individuals and organizations must protect themselves. This article provides guidance for technical communicators tasked with planning, creating, and implementing computer security policy for their organizations.
There are several reasons for the Information Process Maturity Model: moving beyond chaos; moving beyond the heroism of talented and dedicated individuals; moving toward a repeatable, reliable process.