- Last Updated: 14 December 2013 14 December 2013
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How often do you turn into the wrong drive-way when you go home? How often do you forget your income tax?
We don't make these mistakes often because we have some kind of procedure to make sure we do the right things at the right time.
Speaking of paying bills, did you know that running a house is exactly the same as running a business? It is the same – only the number of noughts are different.
And so it follows, if we achieve consistency using processes and procedures at home, we should do the same in business. When we have a repeatable method, process, sequence or model, we don't accidentally miss bits along the way. If we have an excellent method or process (comprehensive and thorough) we can cut corners when we have to, because we will know which corners we cut and what we have to fix up later.
Excellent methods and processes are usually scalable. As Technical Writers we have to be prepared to be given a brief for delivery within in a few hours. If we want to do professional work, we cannot afford to forget any steps just because the time is tight. So if your method or process cannot handle time frames of a few hours (to deliver a single document) or up to a few years (to deliver a suite of documents), you have the wrong method or process.
People often assume each step in a method or process has to be carried out the same way every time. Often that is true. I know a doctor who drilled a Burr hole in an accident victim's head using a ski-binding drill from the nearby ski shop. He followed all the steps – but used a different tool to suit the circumstances.
For example, an excellent method or process does not insist you have to write a plan using Microsoft Word. There is nothing wrong with writing a plan with a pen and a paper serviette sitting in a cafe – if it suits the circumstances. What is the difference? Several hours of time. That is all – provided you know your method or process well enough.
That means your process must be easy to remember and easy to apply. And an excellent method or process will often say nothing about the tools for doing the work.
An excellent method or process is usually sequential, but it can also be circular at the same time. Depending on the method or process, we may spend a long time on say, Step 1, but have quick visits to the rest of the steps before we finish Step 1 to check we are still on the right line. The same applies to Steps 2 and 3 and so on. At each step we check where we have been and where we are going.
So if consistency is built on an excellent method or process, do you have an excellent technical communication method or process?
What does it contain?
How did you create it?
Is it written down?
Do you teach it to others?
Does it handle any size job and any number of people?
Do you show or describe your method or process to your boss or your customers so those people can see you know what you are talking about?
Would you like to bet three months salary or the amount of your next invoice that your process can deliver the right product for the right price?
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