Last week we completed our series of 6 Steps to Better Compliance Documentation with the final step, Create Reusable Information. Each step in the series featured tips and ideas you can use to create documents that support employee performance while meeting the requirements of regulators. The 6 Steps are more than just good advice—they’re proven strategies distilled from the principles of the Information Mapping® methodology. Our professional services consultants use the 6 Steps on a daily basis to help clients across a wide range of industries improve the quality and effectiveness of their compliance documentation.
Changing your approach to writing
Now that we’ve shown you all 6 Steps, it’s time for you to think about how to apply them to your work. Changing your approach to writing can be daunting, especially in the beginning. But the 6 Steps are simple and practical, so using them will quickly become second nature to you. They’ll prove their value for creating effective and compliant documentation. You’ll also use them as reference points to help you assess and revise existing documents.
Use the 6 Steps checklist
To help you get started using the 6 Steps, we’ve created the checklist below to ensure that you keep each of them in mind as you design and develop your documentation. You may want to put this checklist on a wall or bulletin board where you can see it, so you can refer to it periodically during the writing process.
- Know your audience: Have you assessed your audience’s needs? Make sure you understand the purpose of the document you are writing, from their point of view.
- Categorize information: Have you categorized your information by type and purpose? Keep in mind that information should be categorized based on its utility to the user.
- Take the user’s perspective: Is your information organized from the user’s perspective? Ask users for their feedback.
- Consistency is critical: Are the language and formatting of your document consistent? Check to ensure that you’re using terminology, especially acronyms and abbreviations, consistently.
- Guide users: Is the information accessible to those who need it, when and how they need it? Observe users to gain understanding of how they access information.
- Create reusable information: Is the information presented in small, well-defined and easily reusable units? Think in terms of creating modules that can be tagged and stored for reuse in other documents.
Tip: If you’re new to writing compliance documentation, we recommend that you take a few minutes to review the blog entry, 7 Features of Successful Compliance Documentation. You can use the information in that entry to help you define your objectives.
Are you already applying the 6 Steps to your work? The sooner you get started, the more quickly you’ll see for yourself how these simple tips can lead to real improvements in the quality of your compliance documentation. Your users and auditors will see it, too.
Did we mention that we’d love to hear from you about your success with the 6 Steps? Get in touch and tell us about it. You just might give us something new to blog about.