Read & Understood trainings are known both for what they do well — demonstrate compliance to auditors — and also for what they do not do so well: truly train employees. The truth is there’s no reason that you can’t achieve both goals by making it quick and easy for trainees and auditors alike to access key information.
We’ve already explored how to craft a short and sweet gist section as a top way to increase the effectiveness of your Read & Understood documents. Because many trainings are procedures, work instructions or guidance focusing on a complete business process, it also makes sense to focus on writing better rule-based docs.

For example: A management review procedure should include all the vital details such as:

  • Overview of your company’s approach to the review process
  • Frequency of reviews
  • How to conduct a review, including topics to cover
  • How to determine next steps

While it would be great if the managers knew everything about the company review process, the reality is that people will automatically scan for what impacts them directly. So, for example:

  • A service manager will need to know the timing of a management review so she can have the service data ready.
  • A risk officer needs to know that he will be asked about the Vigilance records.
  • An operations manager must know when to be ready to submit manufacturing data.

To improve any process, it behooves QA pros to make it simple to scan dense documentation. Here are two tried and true ways to level up your role-focused writing.

Technique 1 for Role-Focused Writing: Table of Contents (TOC)

Start by writing “sections per role.” The heading of a role section should explicitly state which position it addresses, so that team members can scan the TOC to find the sections that directly apply to them.

For example, the TOC may look like this: (Note: Bold & italicized sections are specific to role holders.)

Title: Management Review SOP

Gist

Scope & Purpose

Overview

Logistical organisation by the Quality Manager

Inputs by role holders:

Production Manager

Customer Support Manager

Risk Officer

R&D Manager

Meeting agenda

Form

A split second later, your role-holders are able to take in what applies, and skip the rest.

Technique 2 for Role-Focused Writing: SEARCH friendly

If it’s difficult to break up the document to fit neatly into a TOC, then you can use this less structured approach:

Close to the top of the document, perhaps as part of the Gist section, list the participating roles. This list should then determine the terminology you use in the document. In this way, you ensure that the SOP is friendly to automatic search.

For example:

Gist
Management Review is the occasion where the management team formally reviews performance in critical areas. We review data and metrics collected from across the business, discuss the future, and decide what we can do to further our quality and business goals.

Participating Roles:
Quality Manager, Production Manager, Risk Officer

Procedure

Inputs to the management review will be prepared by each respective manager:

    • Production Manager will present production data and trends.
    • Risk Officer will present status of Risk Management and Vigilance.

The important point here is consistency. If you decided to use the term, “Production Manager,” then do not use “Production Lead” or “Head of Production” in its place. Also, avoid using a blanket statement like, “all contributors”. Instead, be sure to list the position titles of all contributors so that it’s easy for each person to find the sections that apply to them.

Test Your Work

Finally, regardless of which technique you choose, I highly recommend that you test your document so you can be sure the training is as easy to follow as you think. Ensure your Read & Understood documentation is good to go takes no time and involves good old fashioned human communication:

  • Choose one or two people who have the most involved roles in the training.
  • Give each one three minutes to review it.
  • Ask them what they understood.
  • Use the information to improve your document.
  • Release the document only when you are satisfied with what you hear.

Because in the end, your Read & Understood docs are there not only for compliance, but also to truly improve your team’s performance. If you have questions about how to simultaneously streamline and strengthen your Read & Understood trainings, please feel free to contact us.