Every entrepreneur or small business owner can tell you what sparked an idea that turned into a business.
Whether the business is manufacturing wood cabinets or delivering a carpet cleaning service, the product is only as good as the process by which it is manufactured or the service is delivered to the customer. Writing business policies and procedures can help ensure product quality.
Why write policies and procedures?
As employees are hired, it is important that they understand the correct work process to ensure that the service or product maintains high quality.
Policies and procedures provide a guide for meeting organizational objectives and describe the steps that employees are to take when creating a product or delivering a service.
This ensures consistency in practice and helps to maintain product quality. A policy will set the expectation for employee behaviors and the procedure outlines the steps for it.
Steps to Writing Business Policies and Procedures:
1. Articulation of Required Steps
A procedure should lay out the required steps to perform job tasks or provide a service to a customer.
For example, for a waiter who serves in a restaurant, the service should be delivered by introducing themselves, making eye contact with the customer, offering the most popular menu items, ensuring all drinks are topped off when half filled and ensuring food quality meets the customer’s expectations.
Detailing the procedure for delivering great service to customers is what contributes to a great service environment.
2. Performance Measures
Procedures should be used as a tool to measure an employee’s performance by determining if the process was followed appropriately.
For example, a procedure for a receptionist answering the telephone should include a tracking of how often the receptionist answers the phone using a telephone script.
3. Process Consistency
When procedures are followed, there is consistency in practice for work processes. This helps to ensure that things are done the same way, every time and that all steps are followed.
When steps get skipped it creates an inconsistent process that then creates variations in product or service quality.
4. Serve as a Training Tool
Employee Training is one of the most valuable investments any organization can make. When employees receive thorough training and detailed detailed job descriptions, they are prepared to complete job tasks.
Using policies and procedures as part of employee training helps to ensure that there is consistency in practice and reinforces global expectations. For example, a review of policy and procedures should be included in a new employee orientation process.
5. Incorporates Worker Experience
Policies and procedures build off of those who have been performing the job tasks and documents work methods of experienced employees. It also incorporates lessons learned and best practices to ensure quality products and services in addition to safety and legal compliance.
6. Training Refresher
Having a written policy and procedure manual can be used as a tool to help train employees and serves as a reminder of procedure steps and expectations.
7. Foundation for Process Improvement
When policies and procedures are reviewed and employees, customers and quality data is considered in the review, it can serve as a great template for improving what is done and can help to improve current processes.
Similar to the FOCUS PDCA model, it can help improve products and services and support a customer service strategy.
Other Things to Remember:
Policies and procedures need to be reviewed and updated at least annually to make improvements and keep them current.
Employees need initial training on procedures but should have continuous refreshers to inform them of changes in practice and to remind them of expectations for following procedures.
Records should be kept in employee files to document training.
Policies and procedures should be consistently reviewed for its effectiveness and to ensure that what is being done in practice is adding value.
Most procedures should have checklists that simplify the process and serve as a reminder for employees.
As organizations grow it is important to put those things in writing that the organization values and deems important. Doing so in a detailed policy and procedure manual, that is shared with employees, can help to ensure that products and services maintain the high quality that customers expect.