document length

Subject: document length
From: Miki Magyar <MDM0857 -at- MCDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:58:51 -0700

Steve Page asked, " how long should a policy and a procedure document be?"

To which the smart-ass reply is 'only as long as it needs to be', which is also a good working rule of thumb. Most of the ones I've seen have been so thick, opaque, impenetrable, and confusing that they are never used. Of course, that might have been the original intent....

If what you want is to answer the questions about policy that might be asked by employees, then my suggestion (you may have seen this before) is to list the questions you're answering, order them in some reasonable groups, and write the answers, leaving the questions as headers.

If you're trying to include everything in one document, don't. It rapidly becomes useless. Refer to separate procedure sets instead. For example, your second tier document could specify that "Tech Pubs will follow established procedures for reviewing user documents. See the Tech Pubs Procedures book for details." The Tech Pubs Procedures book has all the detailed how to do it stuff. This makes it easier to maintain your P&P documents. If this seems like ISO 9000 sort of stuff, it is. And it makes sense.

And as usual, it all depends. Each company has different requirements, and one size does not fit all. If you try to keep it as simple and useful as possible, you get the Good Guy award.

Good luck,
mikim -at- ieee -dot- org

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