How to Organize the Information Gathering Phase
This is the part I like the most about
writing procedures. It involves walking around and getting to
know those who work with the actual procedure and know how it works
ˇ®warts and all'.
What is Information Gathering?
It's about walking and talking.
One of the mistakes many writers make is to work at their PC and
assume that the knowledge they need will come to them. All they have
to do is send out some emails, right?
Not really. You need to get out and make connections with people.
Once they can put a ˇ®name to the face', it gets easier to arrange
meetings. You're not a stranger anymore. They know who you are and
why this project means so much to you.
Also, by going to their desk, you're showing that you're making
the effort to reach out to them. It's also harder to say No to a
person when they are in front of you. Deleting emails is a lot
Identify the Information You Need to Gather
Let's think about this for a second. The end goal is to be able
- Document how the process works
- Understand where and
how it interacts with other processes
- Examine where it can be improved
- Share this information with everyone on the team
To get to that point you have to do a Sherlock Holmes.
Do a Sherlock Holmes?
What I mean is you need to look at this procedure as neutrally as
possible. Think of yourself looking for clues, trying to find
information that will explain exactly how the process works.
Many business analysts, maybe new to this field, think they know
how a process works after a quick assessment. When they get into how
it works ¨C and when eagle-eyed team members review the first draft ¨C
it becomes clear that the process needs to be re-examined.
To recap: the information gathering phase is where you go out and
collect all the information you need to prepare the procedures.
Shouldn't it be obvious what you need to capture?
Not really. If you ask ten people how to get from your house to
the city centre, they'll all give you different routes. Everyone
knows different shortcuts, different schedules, and better ways to
get from A to B.
It's the same with writing procedures and work instructions.
You don't write Procedures in a vacuum. Meet up with other people
and ask them how the procedure works. Let's say, as an example, that
you're writing procedures for a bank. You want to know how mortgages
applications are processed.
This process will typically involve numerous activities, all
handled by different people, many of which are performed by
different functions and disparate IT systems.
To capture each step in the process means sitting down with those
who understand each task.
There are two parts involved in capturing how a process works.
- Capture the As Is Process ¨C The first is to ˇ®photograph' how
the actual process works. This is often called the ˇ®as-is'
process. In other words, you're aim is to capture exactly how the
process works, warts and all. You're not concerned with finding
faults, looking for improvements, or exploring alternative
options. The as-is process shows how the process works, just as a
- Define the To Be Process ¨C The second is the ˇ®to-be' process.
This involves looking at alternative ways of performing the
process and different contingencies you can take if/when a
specific action occurred. Exploring the to-be process is often
called process redesign or process reengineering.
However, to get to this point, you need to understand the ˇ®as-is'
process very clearly.
If you start the second step without going through the first,
you're likely to make assumptions or overlook factors that will
undermine the accuracy of the process.
How to get started?
You can speed things along by arranging workshops with the
necessary subject matter experts. It's unlikely that all will be
able to attend; don't worry. Get as many into the workshop as
possible and go through the processes.
Make sure you have:
- Overhead projectors and
- Writing materials
If necessary, arrange for lunch to be delivered as this will give
you more time with the attendees, instead of them splitting up for
lunch. I've seen people go for lunch and not return for the
afternoon session; do your best to keep them in the room. You
mightn't get a second chance.
If possible, get another team member to make notes as you're
running the workshop. You can compile these notes the next day and
then circulate them to the attendees for their review.
Tip: Try to
capture things while they are still fresh in your memory. If you
leave it until tomorrow, you're likely to forget large chunks of
what you've heard. Give yourself an extra hour after the session to
write up your notes.
What other suggestions do you have for this phase? What's the
best way to get information from those who are reluctant to share
Why do you think they hold the information back?
Table of Contents
Before you Start Writing Your Standard Operating Procedures
How To Find Procedure Writers
How to Get a Budget
How To Cost The SOP Project
How to Get Management Support For Your SOP Project
How to Find An Executive Champion
How To Setup the Procedure Writing Team
How To Define Roles in the Procedure Writing Team
How to Create SOP Writing Guidelines
How to Organize the Information Gathering Phase
How to Test the Current As Is Business Process
How to Examine Alternatives To The Current As Is Process
How to Write Standard Operating Procedures
How to Write Your First Procedure
How to Number Each Step in the Procedure
How To Capture Exceptions in
How to Use If Then Tables For Complex Procedures
How to Test Standard Operating Procedures
How to Get SMEs to Test Procedures
How & When to Sign Off the Procedure
How to Publish the Standard Operating Procedures
How to Control Documents
How to Use Track Changes
How to Use Naming Conventions
How to Convert SOPs to PDF
How to Upload SOPs to the Document Management System
How to Create a SOP Document Archive
How to Backup SOPs Archives & Store Offsite
How to Implement Procedures
How to Schedule Assessments
- Process Improvement
- writing SOPs
provides opportunities to refine current processes. Feedback received during this activity
helps identify limitation of the current processes and potential problems that may arise.
- Regulatory requirements - SOPs help
address legislative and regulatory requirements. Developing and maintaining SOPs is an
effective way to address safe work practice regulations.
- Staff Performance - SOPs clearly describe
what staff are expected to perform in the workplace. SOPs remove ambiguity and provide an
objective mechanism for evaluating their performance.
- Standardization - SOPs identify roles and
responsibilities. SOPs clarify decision-making requirements and chain of commands.
- Training material - SOPs can be used in
training programs, workshops and exercises. SOPs improve the understanding of work
requirements and identify potential problems.
Download the SOP Template Pack
The templates included in this pack are in
and Microsoft Excel format. You can download all templates online for only $9.99.
More details about the
SOP template pack are here.
The template pack includes the following documents:
- RFP Pre-Issuance Procedure
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual
- this is used for writing and maintaining multiple SOPs, for example, all SOPs for the HR
- Standard Operating Procedures template -
this is used for writing and maintaining standalone SOPs.
- Standard Operating Procedures Guidebook -
this describes how to write SOPs. The guidebook includes the following
- Writing Standard Operating Procedures
- Level of Detail
- Writing Style and Language
- Writing Conventions
- Numerical Information
- Component Information
- Procedure Titles
- Step Numbering
- Procedure Organization
- Revision Status
- Precautions and Limitations
- Terms, Definitions, Acronyms, and Abbreviations
- Writing Action Steps
- Writing Conditional Action Steps
- Standard Operating Procedures Log Book -
this is used for controlling new SOPs, numbering SOPs, and ensuring that all SOPs are
authorized before creation.
- Excel spreadsheets - these 3 Excel files
will help you manage document control, clarifications that arise during the analysis phase
and monitoring roles and responsibilities.
- Sample template - this sample template
documents the pre-issuance procedure when developing Request for
for $9.99 - Buy