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[Thorough Explanation] How to Create Foolproof Manuals

[Thorough Explanation] How to Create Foolproof Manuals

There are many methods for achieving standardization of business and quality, but one of the most common measures is the use of manuals.
Especially with the impact of remote work and work style reform, the importance of manuals within companies has increased. However, you may have concerns about the following when it comes to manuals.
"I understand the importance of manuals, but I don't know where to start creating them."
"I tried to create a manual before, but it ended up becoming obsolete."

Here, we will introduce how to create a foolproof manual.
We will explain not only the key points for avoiding failure, but also the steps for creating a manual and the points for operating rules.

In today's diverse working environment, human resources are fluid. In such cases, having a manual allows for standardization of work quality and reduction of education costs.

Table of Contents

1. What is a manual in the first place? What is it created for?

Before we share the key points of creating a fail-proof manual, let's first explain what a manual is and why it is created.

・What is a manual?
A manual translated into Japanese means a business procedure document or a business guidebook. A manual is a document that summarizes the procedures and precautions for performing business or work.

・Purpose of the Manual
The purpose of the manual is to standardize business operations.
Standardizing business operations means raising or maintaining the quality of work to a certain level. In other words, the purpose of the manual is to ensure that no matter who performs the task, the output is of a consistent quality.

- What is the difference between a manual and a procedure document?
While a manual summarizes the flow and rules of tasks and operations, a procedure document provides specific instructions and methods for tasks that occur during operations. Both are similar in that they are created to ensure that everyone achieves the same result for a task, but a procedure document contains more specific and detailed information about the actual process of the task.

・Benefits of Manuals
In addition to standardizing operations, manuals have various benefits.

①Reducing Education Costs

By having a business manual, you can reduce education costs.
For example, it takes a lot of effort to teach new employees from scratch. By having them read the manual beforehand, there is no need to teach them everything from scratch to ten.

Reducing Labor Costs

By preparing a manual, you can reduce costs associated with customer support.
By having customers check the manual before contacting the company, there are cases where inquiries are unnecessary. Manuals play an important role in reducing customer support costs.

Prevent Personalization of Work

Manuals play a role in preventing the personalization of work by ensuring that the procedures and precautions of the business are understood by many people. From the perspective of business continuity, tasks that can only be done by specific individuals are nothing but risks for companies. In order to prevent such risks, it is important to standardize work through manuals.

④ Understanding the overall picture of the business

By reviewing the created manual, you can understand the overall flow of the business. Even new employees who lack proficiency in their work can understand the business to some extent by reading the manual.
In addition, summarizing the entire business in a manual can serve as an opportunity to review the business content. If the flow of the entire business can be systematized, it is possible to grasp the employees involved in each flow and visualize their respective roles. As a result, it is possible to identify whether the workload is concentrated on one flow or if there are any unnecessary flows, leading to the streamlining of business operations.

2. Procedure for Creating Manuals

After introducing the purpose and benefits of the manual, we will now introduce the steps for creating the manual. The general steps are as follows.

①Determine the users and purpose of the manual
②Organize the information to be included in the manual
③Create the structure and headings of the manual
④Create the manual
⑤Distribute and update the manual

① Determine the manual's users and purpose of use

As the first step, determine the users and purpose of the manual.
"Why" and "for whom" should be clarified for the role and purpose of this manual.

② Organize the information to be included in the manual

As the next step, let's organize the information to be included in the manual.
Confirm the job content and work procedures, and re-examine the points to be aware of and any issues that may arise during the work.

③ Create the structure and headings of the manual

As the third step, we will create the structure and headings of the manual.
It is no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of a manual depends on its structure and headings. Depending on the structure and headings, the information you are looking for can be either easy or difficult to find.

④Creating Manuals

Now that the structure and headings have been created, the next step is to create the manual.
To make the manual easy to understand, there are two main points to consider.
The first is to make use of images, photos, and videos. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let's actively use images and tables to make it easy for anyone to understand.
The second is to include the purpose and reason for the task. While the purpose of the task may be obvious to an experienced person, it may not be for a beginner. By writing why this task is being done and the reason for it, understanding of the job will deepen.
The third is to make it easy to search for where and what information is written. By including keywords in headings and titles, even someone who is seeing the manual for the first time can quickly find the necessary information. By using keywords that are easy for everyone to search, we can save time and effort in searching.
It is also important to follow the manual and identify any issues such as insufficient steps. It may be a tedious task, but by repeating it, we can get closer to the finished product.

⑤ Distribution and Updating of Manuals

As the final step, we will distribute the completed manual.
If there are any changes in feedback or work processes from the field, let's update the manual. It is valuable for the manual to be up-to-date.

Related Blogs

6 Points for Creating Business Manuals

3. Tips for Creating Foolproof Manuals!

In this chapter, we will introduce common examples of failures and key points for creating successful manuals.

Failure Example ①: Difficult to read manual

Manuals with typos, difficult-to-read sentences, and lack of consistency in layout are not reliable and will not be read. Manuals with dense and unorganized text will also not be read. Without accuracy and easy-to-understand layout, people will stop using the manual.

Point 1 for not failing: Easy-to-read and easy-to-understand manual

To make the manual easy to read, there are three key points.
The first is to use a template. The advantage of using a template is that the design and format of the text are already organized. By simply writing the text according to the template, you can efficiently create an easy-to-read document.
The second is to use bullet points and subheadings. Bullet points and subheadings are short summaries of the content you want to convey to the reader. By using bullet points and subheadings, the reader can quickly understand the content.
The third is to pay attention to spelling and grammar errors. This is a basic rule, but having spelling and grammar errors lowers the credibility of the manual and makes it less likely to be used.

Example of Failure ②: Manual where it is not clear where things are written

The second example of failure is a manual where it is unclear where information is written. Manuals serve as a solution when in trouble. However, if the solution is difficult to find, what will happen? The manual will no longer be relied upon and the need for it will not be felt by those within the company.

Point 2: Set a clear table of contents and headings to avoid failure.

When looking for a specific page, many people will search for it in the table of contents. Therefore, it is important to make the table of contents and headings easy to understand. Set up a table of contents and headings that can be easily searched at a glance, such as by setting them up according to purpose or by creating a page for when you are stuck.

Failure Example 3: Business manuals scattered throughout the company

The third example of failure is having scattered operation manuals. With multiple manuals, it is difficult to determine which one to refer to. This also leads to disadvantages such as taking time to search for information. The fundamental cause of scattered manuals within the company is the lack of an established management system. If the management methods vary depending on the person or department, there may be cases where manual updates are missed or old manuals are not revised.

Point 3: Unify Management and Operation Methods to Avoid Failure

The reason for scattered manuals within the company is as mentioned above, due to the unclear management and operation methods. As a countermeasure, it is important to designate an administrator and unify the management and operation methods within the company. If management and operation span across multiple departments or teams, it is necessary to establish rules and regulations.

Failure Example ④: Manual Not Updated

The fourth example of failure is when the manual is not updated and does not match the actual work process. For example, if there is a version upgrade in the business system and the operating procedures have changed, the manual must also be updated accordingly. If it is not updated, it can cause confusion in the workplace due to different procedures and screens.

Point 4 for avoiding failure: Determine the rules and methods for updates and operations.

The fundamental reason for manuals not being updated is because the updating rules and methods are not established. First, let's establish basic rules such as determining the timing of updates, the person in charge of updates, and the person in charge of checking the content of updates. Additionally, having a person in charge of determining whether or not to update the manual when changes occur in business operations will lead to even smoother operations.

Failure Example 5: Insufficient Resources Lead to Manual Creation Failure

The fifth example of failure is resource shortage. Business manuals require more personnel than expected. Due to personnel changes and busy work conditions, there are many cases where manual creation is delayed.

Point 5 for avoiding failure: Work as a team or outsource the creation.

As a point to avoid failure, it is important to work on manual creation as a team. Working with a small number of people, such as one or two, will be a heavy burden and the work will not progress easily. However, working as a team will greatly increase the efficiency of manual creation. Also, by having many people see it, the manual will become more refined.
Another point is outsourcing. If manual creation is stalled due to lack of resources, consider outsourcing as well.

Failure Example 6: Manual creation is put off

The final example of failure is when manual creation is put off and it takes longer than expected to complete. This can lead to a situation where the manual is not released in time when it is truly needed.

Point 6: Decide on a schedule until completion in advance to avoid failure.


Before starting the creation, decide on the schedule until completion. It is important to first determine the release date of the manual, and then work backwards to determine the overall schedule, taking into consideration busy periods and the time it takes to create the manual.
For example, if it is a manual for new employees, it must be completed by April when their work begins. Be careful not to schedule the manual creation during a busy period and make sure to schedule enough time for completion. By deciding on a schedule beforehand, you can also prevent the manual creation from being pushed back.
A truly useful manual for the company cannot be created overnight. Thoroughly schedule in advance and strive to progress as planned.

4. Points for Creating Operational Rules

Once the manual is completed, it is not the end. The manual must be widely used in order to be effective. Therefore, in this chapter, we will also introduce the points for creating operational rules.

Point 1: Share the manual

Sharing the created manual is of course important, but let's also share the updated content when it is updated. By updating the manual, there may be users who notice changes for the first time.

Point 2: Receive feedback and update

By utilizing the manual, there may be cases where we receive inquiries or requests for clarification. Additionally, if the information becomes outdated, the necessity of the manual is reduced by half, so let's always update the manual. By incorporating feedback and continuously adding the latest information, we can create a highly polished manual.

Related Blogs

Effective management methods for operating manuals

5. Summary

How was it?
This time, we mainly introduced how to create a fail-proof manual. We showed some examples of failed manuals, but the solutions are all very simple.

Manuals will undoubtedly become more important in modern society, where work style reform and remote work are advancing.

However, while understanding its importance, many people may feel that creating it is difficult.
In particular, creating manuals while also performing regular tasks can be challenging. That's why we recommend outsourcing manual creation. We especially recommend leaving it to professionals who specialize in manual creation.

Among the many manual creation companies, the most recommended is "Human Science". Human Science is a professional in creating business manuals with a track record of 215 companies and 2854 manuals created. Here are three reasons why we recommend Human Science.

Reason 1: Manual creation by specialized consultants
Specialized consultants handle everything from research to manual creation.
Even if there are no materials to work with, they will conduct interviews and create the manual.
They also specialize in improving manuals and strive for the ideal manual.

Reason 2: Not only manual creation, but also support for implementation
Human Science Co., Ltd. is responsible for the important phase of "implementation" after manual creation. For example, even after manual creation, we will continue to update the manual and hold manual creation seminars. We approach the implementation of manuals in the field by implementing various measures.

Reason ③: Video Content Creation
They will handle everything from planning to shooting and content creation for video content. In today's world, where YouTube is a representative, there is a high affinity with videos.

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