The goal is to make procedures relevant to the procedure consumer. A procedure is only relevant if the information of the procedure is directly connected to the work that is being performed.
The sentence above is seemingly obvious, but rarely have I seen a set of procedures organized around the actual work performed. This has to be the organization’s first step: to identify what needs to be described in procedures.
Before pen is applied to paper (or keystrokes to a blank Word file), the organization should have a comprehensive list of what the organization (or each department in the organization) does. To anyone involved in Quality Management System certification (ISO, AS, QS, etc.), this is the heart of Clause 4.1 (General Requirements), that organizations “shall determine te processes needed for the quality management system.” In other words, what does the organization do in order to ensure quality?
If a department creates an inventory of the processes, tasks or activities they perform in order to achieve the “right” output and achieve customer satisfaction, they will satisfy the ISO requirement and will have in hand a shopping list of the procedure topics for their department.
In any department, that list will be finite. It may be long, but there is an end to the list. If this list is created, then the department can isolate each activity in terms of task, which will have the benefit of the task being described a single time, as opposed to having it described numerous times, as each issue that arises becomes the focus of a “new” procedure. In Part 4, I illustrate this problem and how a procedure structure prevents several potential headaches.