Prioritize and Organize Standards
To recap a concept from the last installment: It is key that you work on the standards that are most important first. Those being:
The standards that fix problems — thus reducing errors.
The standards that produce the highest productivity boost.
The standards that serve the greatest number of users.
In fact, you should create a list of all the problems you can think of that could be fixed by having better standards and procedures and then rank that list in order as described above.
In my experience, if you don’t go through this prioritize and organize stage, you’ll quickly lose focus and your standards program will likely stall. So, do take the time to think things through and get a master plan in place before you get started.
Debug Your Draft Standards
Assuming you’ve mapped out your list of standards already, you’re likely in the process of creating draft standards using the processes I outlined (particularly using video capture to obtain best results) in our last installment. These draft standards will ultimately serve as your written standards and also be very close to a training guide. Having a good first draft of these standards before proceeding further will serve you well.
Now, take the time to go back over your draft standards documents for completeness and fix any problems you find. Pay particular attention to awkward wording or vague instructions. As you work through the standards documents remember that the reason for the standard is to make it easy for users to understand a complex concept. Remember that if the standard isn’t easy for you to follow (and you wrote it in the first place), then your users will certainly be confused.
After you make any adjustments, ask a few of your trusted power users to look through for another opinion. You’ll never be sorry that you took the time to make your standards clear, but you’ll always be sorry if you put out a bad standard that raises more questions than it answers.
Publish the Standards
Now that your standards documents are ready for public consumption, it’s time to turn them into written standards that can be easily distributed and edited over time into a larger standards manual. Of course, there’s no better format to use than PDF for this purpose.
I produce single PDF files for each standard simply by using the Export to PDF function in Microsoft Word. If I need to combine multiple PDF files into a book format with a table of contents and hyperlinks, I simply combine multiple Word files together, create my table of contents and republish.
I find this approach has worked well for me for years and I don’t need a full version of Acrobat to do my job.
Create Video Captures
Using your completed standards, create training videos that explain the standard document from a “show and tell” perspective. By doing so, I’ll now have all the formats I need to allow users to “read it, watch it, and review it” whenever they like rather than requiring a formal training program.
And speaking of training, if you do live training sessions, be sure to record those presentations as you give them. I simply use Camtasia ($299) software on my mobile workstation with a USB headset microphone just like I would for a Zoom/Teams session and I get excellent recording results. And, once I have these training sessions recorded, I’ll never have to do the training again because users can watch it on their own.