How To Create an Operations Manual For Your Business

How your business's operations manual provides the information you need to achieve your business goals
Written By
September 28, 2022
Written By

Imagine someone handing you a new car without a manual. Sure, you will know how to drive it. It may take a little tinkering, but slowly and surely, you will become a natural at using the AC or finding your favourite channels on the radio.

A time will come when you’re facing certain difficulties and require more details about the car. For instance, you may have trouble finding the jacking points after experiencing a puncture.

So, like a vehicle, you can operate a company without an operations manual. However, you risk exposing your organisation to human errors brought about by employees overlooking important processes.

When trying to scale, it may become nearly impossible to replicate the same processes that brought you initial success.

Like the driver who doesn't know where to find the jacking point to change a tire, you may be ill-equipped to respond during emergencies. In fact, some of history’s serious disasters were a result of failing to respond appropriately in the face of emergencies, such as the Titanic and Chernobyl nuclear disasters.  

What is an operations manual?

It's a company’s reference work that provides detailed documentation of workflows and processes performed by employees in their various roles for the achievement of business goals.

The operations manual tells employees about key roles and responsibilities. It goes further and describes the various ways of accomplishing tasks through Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The document may list various employee policies such as benefits, safety, and health. It may touch on the company's culture, including its mission, vision & values.

The operations manual can prove useful for onboarding new employees by describing the work they need to perform and showing them who is also involved in the activity.

You can preempt dilemmas and emergencies, and scenarios where a key decision figure is not available. For instance, an operations manual can help remote employees in different time zones to figure out who to wake up in the middle of a cyberattack or if the website goes down.

It can further document available company resources along with important contact information.  

Steps to create an operations manual for your business
Step 1: Get the right people involved

Creating an operations manual often involves multiple stakeholders. It's important to identify who needs to contribute and then hold consultative meetings.  

Step 2: Set out the manual’s purpose

Define what you want to accomplish with your manual to narrow your efforts and track progress.  

Step 3: Visualise workflows and interdependencies

Use visual aids such as process maps and flowcharts to better break down all the processes and workflows.  

Step 4: Include your business policies and culture

After defining workflows and roles, take time to document business processes, culture, benefits, values, mission, visions, etc.

Step 5: Create organisation hierarchies and list job roles

Start from the top and create an organisational hierarchy, taking time to list all the job roles for each job title.  

Step 6: Collect contact details

Create a contact tree diagram with phone numbers, email addresses, and other information to make it easier for employees to find contact details.

Step 7: Identify emergencies and create a response plan

Brainstorm various emergencies that could happen and provide response procedures.  

Step 8: Share your operations manual

Make it easier for employees to find your operations manual and continue promoting it across all spheres of your business.  

Looking for a place to create, and share your operations manual?

WorkPilot makes it easier to share knowledge and improve performance by allowing teams to create a searchable Wiki, online courses, onboarding workflows, and content libraries. See it in action!

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