Standardize Your Writing Workflow to Improve Writing Results


Posted August 19, 2021

Consistency, reliability, and repeatability are the keys to successful writing.
In other words, everyone who touches your company's documents should have the same high-level training on how to structure and write them. Then, they should all follow the same methodology and workflow in the writing and editing process.
Doing so will help writers produce stronger documents that can repeatedly generate desired outcomes. “Writing is a personal thing,” says the Technical Manager of an IT services company who sought training for this issue. “But there are rules and standards that need to be adhered to, ensuring that your intended message is clearly delivered.”
Two dynamics are at play here:
  1. Standardization in training is the only way to ensure that every person has the same underlying skills to produce impressive documents that communicate effectively with their intended target audiences.
  1. Standardization of workflows is the only way to ensure consistency in all the documents your organization produces, so that every writing project yields reliably excellent material.
So, how can organizations introduce the standardization to produce consistency and repeatability?

1: Create style and brand guidelines for your organization.

When it comes to style guides, simply choose one of the grammar and style guidelines already out there. The Chicago Manual of Style is one of the most popular sources for technical and scientific writing. So is the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. Or you can develop a guide specifically for your own use. Brand guidelines are a little more complicated because they’re unique to every organization, but a little upfront work developing clear brand guidelines can yield dividends in maintaining a consistently professional voice.

2: Create a Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) for your writing process.

If your workforce takes a haphazard approach to creating written documents, they’ll produce haphazard results. Instead, formalize the process that writers should follow through a good SOP. Well-written SOPs can yield remarkable results and consistency.

3: Avoid bureaucracy stifling the process.

A good SOP ensures consistency and quality but ensure that its guidelines don’t strangle the writing process into something unwieldy and inefficient. For example, if the standard process requires a dozen different people to review and approve the same piece of writing, the writing process will slow to a grind and will ultimately worsen the overall quality of the final document.

4: Give editing and revision their due in your workflow.

Be sure your organization has a great review, feedback, and editing process. While many (if not most) organizations wait to review after a document is complete or have too many reviewers (often making contradictory comments), consider making review part of the writing process and using targeted editing. We like to say that revision is where the real writing happens. Indeed, according to researchers at the University of Albany in New York, “The more skilled the writer, the greater proportion of time they will spend in revision.”
In the end, all organizations need to be able to produce consistent, reliably high-quality documents. That, in turn, requires developing a repeatable writing process that everyone can follow.

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