This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Procedures Manual - A Living Document

I read community digest daily and am not surprised by how many people inquire about writing procedures and creating a manual.

Here are a few tidbits that have helped our procedure manual be used daily.
  • Organize your content much like your Blackbaud database is organized.
  • Use bookmarks and create a table of contents.
  • Date all procedures with date created and date updated along with the initials of the person doing the work.
  • Use lots of screenshots and links to narrated video - If you plan to share your procedures outside of your organization remember to white out the confidential information.
  • Have at a minimum two monitors. Excellent for creating and for the end-user!
  • Allow others to edit the manual.
  • Get that all important buy-in from those that use the procedures.
  • Set your permissions to restrict editing the document and be able to approve the track changes others have suggested.

I hope you find this helpful!

(Community Manager's Note: This is a blog entry in our Summer School contest. It has not been vetted by the Raiser's Edge Team for accuracy.)
Posted by Elizabeth Johnson on Jul 24, 2017 12:28 PM America/New_York

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It has been a huge help, especially when you are brand new!
  • Posted Wed 26 Jul 2017 08:17 AM EDT
Some great tips...two monitors and the snipping tool are great helps!
we also include the file name & path in the footer so others can get to the file and edit it as needed!
  • Posted Thu 27 Jul 2017 09:22 AM EDT
Thanks Heather, Joan and to all that voted! Had I more space in the blog I would have loved to ask what others find helpful to add to the list. I know I had more tips that got cut. I'll try to add them here later.
  • Posted Mon 31 Jul 2017 11:21 AM EDT
I love the idea of a "Table of Contents" and also have two monitors.  Great advice!  Thanks :)
  • Posted Mon 31 Jul 2017 01:53 PM EDT
Is this referring to creating a personalized online manual, or are you just using Word or Google Docs?
  • Posted Mon 28 Aug 2017 05:04 PM EDT
Our manual is in Word, however you could limit changes to a Google Doc to just comments, mark suggestions, or use the revision history to see what changes have been suggested. I hope that helps Julia.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:13 PM EDT
I am a big fan of manuals. Great advice!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 12:15 PM EDT
Great thoughts!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 12:41 PM EDT
I like the idea of narrated videos. How do you do those hardware/software wise?
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 04:34 PM EDT
I use Jing with a microphone on my computer. I learned about Jing from someone at BB support. Great way to share screenshots with a url in chat.
  • Posted Tue 08 May 2018 06:30 AM EDT
I am in process of updating the P & P manual. These are really great tips. Thanks for sharing. I especially like the idea of limiting permissions. 
  • Posted Tue 05 Jun 2018 11:10 AM EDT
How do you make sure the manual is kept up to date?  Do you review it s often or ?
  • Posted Fri 15 Jun 2018 10:49 PM EDT
Cindy - we work in it daily. Changes are made to it regularly. Consistency is important so that find and replace can be used for things like changes in titles. I avoid names so those responsible for performing a task don't have to be changed as often. For some reason, we do tend to change titles more frequently. Perhaps I should rethink this. Each individual procedure is dated with an original creation date and an update date with the initials of the person responsible for most of the updates. New hires are told that if a procedure has an old date on it to ask me to review it for updates should they be referring to it. Hope this helps :)
  • Posted Mon 18 Jun 2018 06:14 AM EDT
With the many resources that Blackbaud has, do those of you updating your internal procedures refer to those documents or recreate step by step?
  • Posted Wed 20 Jun 2018 02:09 PM EDT
Originally I wrote all out when I started my manual in 2006. Now I refer to the wonderful BB resources where possible and try to make it more about what we do as an organization and why.
  • Posted Thu 21 Jun 2018 09:11 AM EDT
Very insightful, thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Fri 22 Jun 2018 12:57 PM EDT
How did you start this process?
  • Posted Thu 05 Jul 2018 03:43 PM EDT
Great question Jessica, creating a manual was high on my to-do list when I was hired and I found nothing from my predecessors although at that point we had already been using Blackbaud for 18 years. I had written manuals before for property management databases and it had been shared throughout my state as other housing land trusts moved to digital. Same as with that manual it had to happen one procedure at a time. As I would do something I would document it. The layout came a little later after a few had been created and it only made sense to follow the layout of the database. That will be interesting to see how it unfolds when NXT becomes more functional for all of the tiles since they can move. Alphabetical would make more sense in that situation.  If I came across something that would be helpful and I didn't have time to add at that moment I filed it for later. I used a paragraph symbol at the top of the paper to indicate it was something I wanted to add to the procedures manual. Abbreviations and definitions came very early on. If I came across an abbreviation in my work I added it immediately. Just last week a co-worker asked as they were adding appeals if I was familiar with an abbreviation. I was, however maybe not everyone would be 10 years from now, so in it went. Anytime I had to define something for someone it went into the manual. I had a file folder system to hold my handwritten notes until I could enter them that were organized in the same way as the manual. That way I could review all the like topic matter quickly and easily when I had a moment to work on it. If only I had had two monitors from the get-go it would have happened a lot quicker. Each time I would train someone on a procedure we would print out that section and we would edit it as we went through it. If there was enough time I would review it and adjust before we sat down to do the training. It is important that it means something to the end-user so they could add their own notes, emphasize steps they were likely to look over. This was part of the buy-in process - help them see the document is theirs for the editing as they own it too. I hope this helps! Good luck :)
  • Posted Fri 06 Jul 2018 06:38 AM EDT
Looks like I am in good company with this project! Our end goal is a Microsoft OneNote file that is shared with the fundraisers and kept up by me and the Advancement Services team. We'll have a combination of tables for field definitions and other terminology exclusive to our organization, Visio workflow charts, quick entry guides with screenshots, and a formal best practices/procedures guide. I'd love to add in some videos as well. Lots of work, but my inner data geek is thrilled to take up the challenge.

I've subscribed to see what other gems the community has to offer. Happy editing! :)
  • Posted Fri 13 Jul 2018 02:22 PM EDT
This is great advice. We're trying to make more use of OneDrive at my office so that we can all work off the same document.
  • Posted Tue 24 Jul 2018 02:23 PM EDT
Thanks for the tips and insight Elizabeth!
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 04:18 PM EDT