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One Big Reason Your Procedures Don’t Get Used -- Forgetting Usability Testing

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing policies and procedures, really doesn’t involve writing at all. The mistake is failing to test.
If you want a recipe for policies and procedures that no one will use, just do what far too many organizations do: assign someone who is familiar with the task but doesn’t actually DO the task (tech writer / programmer / engineer / manager), and have them sit at their desk and write an “official” procedure. Run it by the management review team–but don’t bother to test it out with people who will actually use the procedures to see if they understand and can follow the instructions. Ignore the details, nuances and special knowledge people REALLY need. Then watch while the documents gather dust and your employees and co-workers continue to struggle.
What’s one simple remedy for writing policies and procedures that people WANT to read and use? Usability testing!
At COMPROSE we are perpetually amazed at the number of organizations who omit the critical testing step. Usability testing is the fastest way to get an end product people will actually read and USE instead of a document that just sits on the shelf or worse CAUSES errors and confusion.
Don’t waste time and money on unusable documents. Make sure you cover what people need in the order they need it.
Before you publish SOPs, give the draft documents to people who will actually use them. Watch to see if they can complete the task using just the procedures. Note any problems and questions, then modify the procedure based on the feedback and you’ll have something that works.
If you think there is no time for usability testing, maybe you need to examine your method of developing policies and procedures to ensure you have an efficient way to capture Subject Matter Expert knowledge in the first place, and then can easily and quickly modify procedures based on testing results.
If your current software keeps you bogged down with no time for testing and updating, check out COMPROSE’s Zavanta.