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Policy Procedures – 7 Signs You Have Outgrown MS Word

Policy Procedures – 7 Signs You Have Outgrown MS Word
If your method for developing SOPs, policies and procedures, and work instructions is MS Word® or MS Excel®, you may be unaware that there is a better way! Imagine a world with a digital audit trail for updates, automated campaigns with attestation, and a quick and easy search function for your users.

Don’t get us wrong, MS Word is a fantastic tool for general purposes—just not for SOPs. If you only have a handful of procedures that rarely change, then the “do-it-yourself” in MS Word approach may be OK. But if you have many policies and procedures to develop and manage, you’re probably finding the job frustrating or finding you’re not getting the results you had hoped with MS Word. Below are some signs you may have outgrown MS Word, and it may be time to make your life easier with a different approach that is built on structured content.

7 Signs You Have Outgrown MS Word


7 Signs You Have Outgrown MSWord for Policies and Procedures blog graphic

And we hear these every day.

1. Your policy and procedure content is, well, frankly, a mess

Over time, this will happen if you are utilizing an unstructured approach, and everyone can do their own thing. Every day we hear, “I’m tired of cleaning up everybody’s mess,” or, "I waste so much time playing hide and seek with my policies and procedures."

2. People aren’t using the content

It’s a shame how many organizations spend hundreds of hours and commit costly resources to creating content no one can understand or use. Employees reinvent the wheel to make up their own “cheat sheets.”  Board members don’t understand what they’ve been asked to sign off on and ask for endless revisions. The result? Negative ROI.

3. Every document is a new experience. 

This confuses and frustrates employees. When structure is haphazard, they don’t trust the policies and procedures.  In Word, it’s impossible to control standardization. There is no structure. Everyone can do their own thing.

4. You have no systematic version control or change management.

It’s difficult to keep track of versions. Employees don’t trust that they have the latest and greatest. You’re at risk if someone uses an obsolete version. Auditors and regulators are likely to issue citations and demand remediation, creating extra work and possibly fines.

5 No one keeps procedures updated. Formatting and re-formatting are a nightmare. 

Did you know that with a DIY approach (MS Word), formatting alone takes up 50% of the time?  Is clerical formatting something you want to do or want employees to spend their time on? Wouldn’t you rather spend your time on something more valuable?

6. People don’t have the skill or time for procedure writing. 

Creating user-friendly procedures that you can manage with and train from requires skills that most busy professionals don’t have. Sitting in front of a blank screen is frustrating. It’s hard!  No wonder so many people run the other way when you ask them to document their job or write a procedure or policy.

7. Your policy and procedure content is outdated.

It’s amazing how so many organizations say they are stuck in the 80s or their policies and procedures are in a binder on a shelf!  While paper still has its place, modern organizations are going paperless, delivering highly engaging online content that employees can access from their web browser on any device — desktop computer, tablet, or phone. If your organization is moving in this direction, converting static MS Word documents to the new HTML formats and incorporating videos and multimedia is going to be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

If you can relate to any of the above, it may be time to consider a different approach. After all, your policies and procedures should be a system to move your organization forward, not get in your way.

Zavanta software is specifically designed to make writing good procedures fast and easy! Visit the Zavanta Video Gallery to learn more.

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