re: Combination policy and technical manual

Subject: re: Combination policy and technical manual
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 09:43:42 -0700

I'd offer it's really common to combine policy and procedure in the same
document. Certainly it is for our bombs and warheads and I believe it is in
aircraft maintenance as well and I expect most think in such
cases--including hospital procedures--that's the way it should be. The
policy is ... do it this way, use only these materials, etc. But, you can
also use "generic" terms like "suggested," "according to standard practice,"

Think of policy as "background" if that helps, or that your manual contains
both "what" and "how." I'd take the position that the purpose of the book
is to help get work done (correctly), and I'd structure it around that.
Just begin each task with the related policy. Probably the first chapter or
whatever is the "policy on policy," that is, the statement that this manual
rules. This is a bit the opposite of the more frequently occurring
discussion on this list where the topic is software manuals and the debate
is "are they really needed?"

As for jargon, I'd explore the idea of using both "normal" language and the
jargon too and making it "educational" by relating the two and explaining
it. Just because it's policy, doesn't mean it can't be conversational and
useful (but there may be a "boss" that objects). Since it's important to
avoid misunderstanding, you should do what it takes to ensure the manual is
understandable. I suggest for sure an organized review or testing procedure
involving persons who will actually be using the manual be performed prior
to final issuance of the manual.

Since you're in print, you need a system to track every copy and ensure each
page in every copy is the current version of that page. It might also be a
good idea to set up a "suggestion box" system whereby users can submit
complaints about how something is worded or about an actual "how to" or
"with what" and with published procedures for addressing this input and
either rejecting it or formally changing the manual in response.

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