Information mapping is a clear and effective documentation method for companies that have already developed its procedures, policies and supporting documents. Business who are just starting to formalize their procedures can also benefit from the information mapping documentation method. Information mapping streamlines documentation by preventing duplication of instructions or information across procedures. It also provides a format for organizing information within a document so that it is more easily understood. Converting your company's documentation to an information map format can be done in a few straightforward, albeit time consuming steps.
Review all company documentation and systematically organize content into categories containing similar instruction. Refine the category content by removing conflicts and duplications.
For example, many procedures have a section for responsibilities. For this type of content you would compile all "responsibilities"-type information across all documentation. In doing so, you can see conflicts in responsibilities or areas where one responsibility overlaps another. From here, streamline the content to remove duplications or conflicts. Other such content to consider includes definitions and safety precautions.
Create central documents or other revision-controlled information repositories for each type of content.
Back to our example of responsibilities, create one document that lists the responsibilities content you refined in the last step. Be sure to reference procedures where the responsibilities are carried out. This ensures that documentation is properly inter-referenced.
Now that similar content is relocated into a central document, old content can be removed from the original procedures. Remove the old content from the original procedures, giving reference to the new central reference document.
Update the remaining documentation content during the revision process to an information-mapped format. Organize document content by grouping pertinent information. Include sub-headers. Use tables where possible so content can be better visualized. Establish best practices by including any tribal knowledge or steps that employees typically perform but have not been documented in the procedure.
Information mapping ranges from simple to complex and can further enhanced by including measurable feedback for management. For the more complex implementation, professional services from establishments such as the founding company Information Mapping, Inc. can be employed to optimize your mapped or unmapped procedures. (See Resources)
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