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Creating a corporate operations manual the key to efficiency
Reading time: 7 minutes
Updated 08 July 2024

Creating a corporate operations manual: the key to efficiency

The operations manual is an essential tool in a business because, if written in the correct manner, it ensures better efficiency of business operations and many other benefits.

If you want to structure an operations manual for your startup effectively, organizing its contents as best you can, you must first know what exactly this document is and know its basic components. You will find all this information (and much more) in this guide.


What is the corporate operations manual

Within a company, the operations manual is a particular document that brings together in meticulous detail a range of relevant information about the company structure, its processes and procedures. In addition to the basic information, the company’s operations manual must also put in black and white the conditions that occur after certain actions that are fundamental to obtaining a result or achieving a goal.

Traditionally, the operations manual has always been a physical document, but in recent years, partly to facilitate access to and sharing of the information it contains, its contents are generally being digitized.


The importance of the operations manual for the business structure

One of the main components of operations manuals is the aforementioned corporate structure: with regard to this specific aspect, it is important to reiterate and emphasize that the operations manual is of crucial importance, since it clarifies the hierarchical organization of the enterprise and the role of everyone, so as to avoid misunderstandings.


Business procedures: definitions and applications

To better understand what an operations manual is, it is also a good idea to be clear about what is meant by business procedures: these are detailed instructions, put in black and white, on how a particular activity or process in an organization should be performed. They serve to ensure that activities, based on the directions given, are then performed in a manner that is consistent and aligned with business objectives, as well as, of course, in a manner that complies with applicable regulations.

The areas of application are diverse: in a franchise model, for example, they serve to impart the knowledge needed to successfully replicate a business, but business procedures can also help “internal” processes, such as, for example, onboarding a new employee.


Basic components of the operation manual

Your operations manual will need to be tailored to the characteristics and goals of your startup, but even so, you should know that it is possible to identify, in general terms, some key components that cannot be missing from such a document.


Key components of the operations manual

Key components of the operations manual


Structure and context of the organization

The first key component of an operations manual, as already pointed out, is the structure of the company, and that is, to be more precise, the precise description of the company’s organizational chart. You must keep in mind, however, that along with the corporate structure, it is also important to describe some contextual data, such as the address and telephone and digital contacts, as well as the other elements useful in defining the corporate identity.


Description of positions and functions

The structure of the company is, therefore, a description of how it is organized in hierarchical order. Within the operations manual, however, more precise indications of the specific functions related to the various positions within the organization cannot and should not be missing either.


Processes and procedures: the heart of operations

Last, but certainly not least, is the processes and procedures component of the operations manual: in this specific part of this document it is necessary to describe how the company acts in various day-to-day situations.


Benefits of a clear operating manual

The benefits you can gain if you are able to clearly, accurately and completely draft your operations manual are many and can be exploited in a variety of areas. You are about to discover them in the next few lines.


How operations manuals improve productivity and efficiency

To explain some of the benefits of a clear operations manual we can borrow the words of marketing expert Philip Kotler:

“The creation of a corporate operations manual is an act of responsibility and leadership: it demonstrates a commitment to efficiency, consistency and transparency in business operations.”

We encourage you to think about one thing: putting relevant information about the structure and operation of the company on paper forces you to ask questions that you probably would not otherwise ask and helps you to better understand the state of affairs in this way.

Knowing more about how your startup is structured and how it works in practical terms allows you to improve the processes themselves and increase your production goals.


Knowledge dissemination and internal training

The operations manual also gives you another benefit: It also allows you to better disseminate the knowledge you have gained about the company to employees, giving them more precise guidance on tasks and responsibilities, and to massify that same knowledge held by the company, minimizing the risk of it being lost due to staff turnover.

Thanks to the operations manual, moreover, as mentioned above, training a new figure is much easier and faster because the new employee can rely on precise guidelines that can be consulted at any time.


How to structure an effective operations manual

This is it: the time has come to summarize some practical tips for writing an operations manual effectively. Fundamental, first of all, is to organize the content as well as possible.


How to structure an effective operations manual

How to structure an effective operations manual


From draft to table of contents: organizing content

The first piece of advice for you is to start with the draft general table of contents: it is useful to reiterate, in this regard, that there are some points in the table of contents that accumulate practically all operational manuals, while others, more specific, vary from activity to activity. Pay attention: we have spoken of drafts. You will understand why in the next few lines.


Team involvement and interactive feedback

Whether it is intended for internal use or to provide precise guidance to franchisees, the creation of the operations manual must include the involvement of the team or the client (in the case of franchises). It is only through feedback from all parties, in fact, that it is possible to modify the draft of this document until it is finalized.


Use of digital technologies and tools for updating

Be very careful: even the final version of the operations manual requires changes and updates. Depending on the frequency of the latter, you can consider using the new digital tools, which can synchronize a large amount of information and data and thus ensure that the operations manual is always up-to-date and accessible (and editable) by all eligible people.


Operations manual and job description: differences

Having reached this point in the guide devoted to the operations manual, it may be useful to define what a job description is instead. Very often, in fact, entrepreneurs confuse these two documents.

The job description, in fact, although of fundamental importance, is only one part of the operations manual: it, in fact, as moreover its name suggests, makes special reference to the duties that each employee must perform (and only those).


Roles, responsibilities and initiation of activity

Unlike the job description, the operations manual includes detailed guidance regarding other aspects as well, such as the role and responsibilities of everyone, starting with the manager, as well as other guidance (very useful in the case of franchising) on starting the business, such as, for example, the most suitable type of company and its corporate purpose.


Final recommendations for the implementation and management of the operations manual

Having also cleared up the misunderstanding about operations manual and job description, we move on to the conclusion of this guide with one more question to be answered, and one that we are sure you have already asked yourself: how much does it cost to create a tailor-made operations manual for a company?

It should be clear to you that it is not possible to answer this question with a single and always valid answer because, obviously, the cost of a customized operations manual varies according to its complexity, which in turn is related to the specific characteristics of the company. That said, we will try to answer this question in the next few lines.


How much does it cost to create a customized operations manual?

As just mentioned, the cost of an operations manual varies widely, depending on the type of business: to give you a rough indication, we can say that the price generally ranges between 12 and 24 thousand euros.

There is another aspect you must consider when evaluating the price of an operations manual: writing this document is certainly not a matter of days. Again speaking broadly, the lead time is between 4 and 8 months. It is absolutely important that whoever is in charge of writing the operations manual, throughout the time of writing, is physically present within the company: only in this way, in fact, is it possible to verify in the field the correctness of the procedures and, if necessary, modify them.


The excerpt from the operations manual as an immediate resource

Before concluding this guide devoted to writing an effective operations manual, we cannot fail to mention the so-called “excerpt“: in fact, you should know that in cases where the operations manual is particularly meaty and elaborate, it is customary to make a summary, which is very useful as an immediate resource to be made available to new employees and, more frequently, to franchisees struggling with the opening of the new store.

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

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