How to Create Job Guides Without Sacrificing Your Sanity
Developing job guides is one of the less glamorous tasks in a system rollout but if you are thoughtful about their creation, they will make all the difference. When sitting down to begin documenting system processes and workflows, be sure to consider the following:
1. Add a Table of Contents
If your job guide covers many different processes, include a table of contents that will quickly drive your audience to the information they need.
2. Offer a Bit of Context
Be sure to provide context around the process(es) outlined in the job guide. This information will be especially useful for new users and administrators who were not involved in the system rollout but who will begin to use the system in the months and years to come.
3. Think Through the Visuals
Screenshots and GIFs can be helpful in guiding users or administrators through the system, but they also complicate ongoing maintenance of the job guide. When creating your job guide, decide if your instructions can still be made clear without providing a screenshot for every click.
4. Include Detailed Click-Paths
Guide your users through click-by-click instructions. Be sure that the labels and terms in the guide match the labels within the site, especially if you choose to forego visuals.
5. Leverage Users for Feedback
After creating the first draft of your guide, send it to a few users or admins and ask them to try it out. Their feedback will take the guess work out of polishing a final draft.
6. Plan for Maintenance
When system updates are released, be sure you have a dedicated resource responsible for reviewing your job guides and updating them accordingly.
It is important to balance the creation and maintenance of the job guide with the maintenance of your own sanity. Including a screenshot for every single click will likely make the upkeep unbearable, and the benefits of such inclusions are arguably negligible. Often, detailed click-paths will get users or admins 90% of the way there. In addition, the exclusion of screenshots will force the user or admin to become more comfortable with the system and dive into the process more fully.
Finally, be thoughtful about how your job guides are distributed. If possible, host the file in a spot that is easily accessible to the intended audience, and that allows you to make and distribute updates quickly when needed. Shared drives, company intranet sites, or the Learning Management System’s collaboration tools are just a few examples of where you might host the job guides.
Good luck, and happy guiding!