Do you Own a Business? How to Determine if Your Policies and Procedures Too Long

Have you ever wondered what the right length for all your policy and procedures manual is? Very few authors draft short SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). Creating long SOPs ranging between 50 and 70 pages long is more common. So, do you know how long your policy and procedures manual should be?

last updated Monday, March 25, 2024
#Policies and Procedures #Long Procedures

John Burson     Subscribe
How to Determine if Your Policies and Procedures Too Long


Long Procedures are wrong.

The longer your procedure, the harder it is to understand or use. Creating a long SOP will confuse your employees. In addition to making it hard to organize all the information, it becomes harder to update all the content, which makes navigation more complex.

Length of your Business Policy

Begin by assessing your business policies. Business policies are guides that help organizations to set their direction. Examples of Business Policies:

  • Sexual harassment policies
  • Accounts receivable policies
  • Warehouse policies        

Business Policies Meta Data

This is all the information about your content. It should include:

  • Title
  • Policy
  • Definitions
  • Purpose
  • Responsibilities
  • Scope
  • References

Procedures aren’t written in a Vacuum

If your business policy and procedures manual goes beyond a few pages, this can be a scope problem. You will add more information that may belong in a work instruction or procedure. Therefore, business policies aren’t written in a vacuum; they will stem from your business strategy.

Process Procedures

The business procedures you have created should describe processes that your employees should follow to achieve something repeatedly. Process procedures are as simple as writing high-level process flow maps. If you use process maps as your procedure, ensure that they aren’t long. Ideally, they should be only one page. 

Length of your Process Procedure

A firmly focused business policy and procedures manual helps to develop a firmly focused business procedure. The long SOPs are the most common. Although it may seem easier to concentrate your policy in one sentence, concentrating your procedure in one sentence can be more difficult. This is because procedures often describe repeatable steps that can accomplish a result.

Adopt the Rule of Seven

The rule of seven is used to remind business owners to keep procedures short.

  • Less than seven procedures per process
  • Less than 7 activities per procedure
  • Less than seven lines per paragraph
  • Less than seven tasks for any activity

SOP Length

Keep your procedure short by using the work instructions to shorten your procedures. The longer your policies and procedures, the harder they are to understand.


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