Online Technical Writing:
This section does not provide details on how to plan, write, format, and complete policies and procedures documents. However, it does provide links to web pages that do along with some advice on maintaining a reasonable scope for a policies and procedures project if you are in a technical or business writing course.
Policies and Procedures: Overview
Organizations use policies and procedures documents to record their rules and regulations. These can include whatever the organizations considers important for its operations: attendance policies, substance-abuse policies, work-flow procedures, and so on. Once recorded, the policies and procedures are there for everybody in the organization to refer to, and these documents become the means of settling most disputes within the organization.
To distinguish between these two terms, policies are general statements of how an organization want things to be within its walls. For example, it may have a policy that dictates eager, aggressive, do-whatever-takes customer support. But to make that policy a working reality, it will also have one or more procedures that define exactly what to do — step by step -- when a customer calls with a complaint or problem.
Policies-and-Procedures Projects as Writing Projects
If you are enrolled in a course associated with this page, you are in a writing course, not a business-policy course. Our focus is on good writing, well-designed documents, documents that accomplish their purpose, and documents that meet common expectations as to their content, organization, and format. Policies and procedures are obviously an important application of writing and can contain substantial technical information about a business's operations. That's why it's a good option for the final project in a technical-writing course.
You can write policies and procedures if you need to write such a document for an actual business or organization, if you are working for an organization that lacks them, or if you'd merely like to do some constructive daydreaming about how an organization ought to be structured. Beware, however, if you are just playing around with this notion: the policies and procedures you write for this course must be every bit as serious, realistic, specific, factual, well-researched, and well-thought-out as policies and procedures for a real situation.
Scope of Policies-and-Procedures Projects
Policies and procedures can be very large documents containing information that you may have no way of getting. Work with your instructor to reach an agreement on the scope of the document you write. Remember too that your instructor is probably not a professional business or organizational consultant and probably won't be able to help you on the finer points of your policies and procedures document.
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