Operations Manual Template Table of Contents – 8 Essentials

When creating your Operations Manual, it is important to consider the table of contents as a primary task. This will allow you to plan each section of your Operations Manual which will increase the likelihood of it being a useful document for your team.

Operations Manual Template + 50 Free Templates

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If you simply create a document full of information that is irrelevant, hard to read or not concise, it simply will not be effective to improve your business.

Many businesses have typical ‘pillars’ or ‘departments’. The following are 8 important areas of any business that can form the basis of your table of contents when creating your operations manual. An Operations Manual brings many benefits to your business and there are many reasons why you should have one.

Use an Operations Manual Template if you need to save time and create your operations manual quickly and efficiently.

What is an Operations Manual?

Operations Manual Definition

What is an Operations Manual?

Wikipedia describes it as:

“The operations manual is the documentation by which an organisation provides guidance for members and employees to perform their functions correctly and reasonably efficiently.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_manual
Screenshot of a Wikipedia definition for an Operations Manual. The definition describes an Operations Manual as a document that provides guidelines for the operation of a business, including detailed instructions for tasks, procedures, and policies.
Wikipedia Definition | Operations Manual

Plan Out Your Operations Manual Table of Contents

A table of contents will help you plan your manual and allow you to see a ‘birds eye view’ of the overall content. If you list out each section, and then sub-sections, you will quickly be well on your way to creating an Operations Manual that is useful and relevant.

Ensure you create something that is relevant, clear, easy to read and easy to update and use.

The last thing any business needs is useless paperwork that no one reads or uses. This occurs in many organizations. It doesn’t have to in your business.

Whether you are creating an Operations Manual for a non-profit organization, or for a small or medium business, the key to success is to keep it flexible, as it is likely to change constantly.

The simplest way to start is to create an Operations Manual using MS Word, as this will allow you to be flexible, reduce cost and get the basics underway quickly and efficiently. Down the track you can consider alternatives such as online portals or cloud based products.

Save a huge amount of time and energy by using an Operations Manual Template.

Operations Manual Template + 50 Free Templates

A professional, business eBook cover with Operations Manual Template text on it. Blue, white, and red background with Digital Documents Direct logo and website address.
Download an Operations Manual Template

8 Essential Sections for your Operations Manual Table of Contents

The level of detail in your Operations Manual will really depend on your business, how complex it is, what you produce and how it operates. However, you can pretty well assume that you will need the basics such as:

  • a mission or vision to set the direction of your business
  • a finance section which is crucial to survive
  • an operations section or production section
  • a sales or marketing section
  • and a human resources section.

Take some time to list out the main sections of your business. This is relatively easy and you can refer to the list below. There isn’t any right or wrong way to do this. It comes down to your organization and how you want to structure it.

8 Sections of any Typical Business

The following sections are 8 important areas of any typical business and these can form the basis of 8 areas of your Operations Manual table of contents.

  • Section 1: Company Introduction
  • Section 2: Vision and Values Manual
  • Section 3: Administration Manual
  • Section 4: Finance Manual
  • Section 5: Human Resources Manual
  • Section 6: Production or Operations Process Manual
  • Section 7: Emergency Manual
  • Section 8: Marketing Manual

Whether you have 8 separate documented manuals for each area, or you create one MS Word document with 8 separate sections, it doesn’t really matter. It will of course depend on the size of your business and the speed of its growth.

If you need something more comprehensive, then read more about these 8 important pillars of your business in much more detail at this link.

8 Important Pillars of Your Business and Operations Manual

Table of Contents Sub-Sections of an Operations Manual

Once you have determined the main areas or section of your business as per above, then you can consider each area in more detail.

There is likely to be a huge amount of detail required, however you can certainly obtain a lot of this information online or simply purchase a ready made Operations Manual Template.

The additional sub-sections outlined outline below is for a typical business, so it may not apply to your business. Generally, there are aspects of most businesses that are the same. Depending on how large your business is will depend on how detailed your Operations Manual is.

Sub-sections of an Operations Manual Table of Contents

A really brief outline of additional sub-sections of a table of contents is:

  • Welcome to Our Business
  • About the Company
  • History of the Company
  • Values
  • General Business Details
  • Organizational Structure
  • Workplace Information
  • Workplace Requirements
  • Health and Safety
  • Equipment
  • Marketing
  • Finances
  • Human Resources
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Competitive Analysis – Target Market
  • Safety and Emergencies
  • Workplace Safety Protocols
  • Training and Development
  • Quality Control Measures
  • Culture and Team
  • Appendices and Resources

You may need to break your operations down into separate files as it will become large quickly.

Either way, you should start off by setting the direction of your business with a Mission and Vision and then progress to the general details and safety requirements. Then, after that you can jump into standard procedures and detailed tasks. Finally, summarize it at the end.

An Operations Manual Template Table of Contents Sample

Below is a very simple Operations Manual table of contents as an example. If you need a more complex and detailed Operations Manual, then read more at this link below.

8 Important Pillars of Your Business and Operations Manual

Table of Contents for an Operations Manual Template in Microsoft Word. Includes sections: Introduction, Company Information, Operational Procedures, Safety Protocols, Equipment and Tools, Human Resources Policies, Financial Procedures, IT and Security. Page 1
Operations Manual Table of Contents Sample
Table of Contents for an Operations Manual Template in Microsoft Word. Includes sections: Introduction, Company Information, Operational Procedures, Safety Protocols, Equipment and Tools, Human Resources Policies, Financial Procedures, IT and Security. Page 3
Operations Manual Table of Contents Sample
Table of Contents for an Operations Manual Template in Microsoft Word. Includes sections: Introduction, Company Information, Operational Procedures, Safety Protocols, Equipment and Tools, Human Resources Policies, Financial Procedures, IT and Security. Page 2
Operations Manual Table of Contents Sample

Whether you use something simple like the above, are trying to find a free operations manual template, or you go for something more complex, either way it is a good idea to plan for the future and for future growth by ensuring you have a system set up for your team to follow.

There are huge benefits when you create an Operations Manual for your business. From improving efficiency almost overnight, helping to maintain consistency across the business in all areas through to training new employees efficiently, an Operations Manual brings many benefits to your business.

What is the Best Format for an Operations Manual?

The best and cheapest format for an operations manual depends on your organization’s specific needs, resources, and how the manual will be used.

These are your options:

Option 1

Digital Document (PDF)

BenefitsDrawbacks
Easy to create Green TickTakes time to update Red Cross
Flexible and easy to distribute Green TickHarder to search for things Red Cross
Quick to update Green TickTedious once it gets big Red Cross
Easy to protect so people don’t change it Green TickNot that flexible overall Red Cross

Option 2

Word Document (DOCX)

BenefitsDrawbacks
Easy to create Green TickTakes time to update Red Cross
Word software is everywhere Green TickTedious once it gets big Red Cross
Can be broken into sections and individual files Green TickLittle bit hard to search for specifics Red Cross
Flexible and easy to distribute Green TickHard to include images quickly Red Cross
Quick to update Green TickFile will get big fast Red Cross

Option 3

Printed Manual

BenefitsDrawbacks
Easy to create Green TickConstantly reprinting due to updates Red Cross
Easy to hand out Green TickTedious once it gets big Red Cross
Can be broken into sections and individual files Green TickDifficult to search Red Cross
Flexible and easy to distribute Green TickFile will get big fast Red Cross
Quick to update but not distribute Green TickWaste of resources including printing and paper Red Cross

Option 4

Web-Based Manual

BenefitsDrawbacks
Easy to update Green TickMore complex to create Red Cross
Can be broken into sections for each department Green TickCan need specialist advice to create and update Red Cross
Easy to search Green TickNot as accessible to those not in an office as easily Red Cross
Flexible and easy to distribute through links and emails Green TickHarder to read on mobile if detailed Red Cross
Quick to update and distribute Green Tick

Option 5

Web-Based Portal or Third Party Online System

BenefitsDrawbacks
Easy to update Green TickCan be expensive Red Cross
Can be broken into sections for each department Green TickCan need specialist advice to create and update Red Cross
Easy to search Green TickNot as accessible to those not in an office as easily Red Cross
Flexible and easy to distribute through links and emails Green TickHarder to read on mobile if detailed Red Cross
Quick to update and distribute Green TickRisk of loss if third party sells Red Cross

Choosing the best and cheapest format depends on balancing the need for accessibility, ease of updates, and the resources available to your organization.

Recommendations

Small to Medium Businesses

A Word Document (DOCX) or PDF might be the best choice. They are cost-effective, easy to update, and can be shared electronically or printed if necessary. However there are easy ways to get your procedure manual and operations manual online.

Large Organizations or those with Frequent Updates

A web-based manual hosted on an internal server or a secure platform like SharePoint or Confluence. This allows for easy updates and access control.

Easy Steps to Create an Operations Manual Quickly

Operations Manual Sections MS Word

How to Create an Operations Manual

Step 1: Determine the format of your Operations Manual

Will you be using MS Word or some other software package or online portal?
Determining how you will be producing it and how you will be presenting it to your team is the first step in creating a useful tool.

Step 2: Create a Table of Contents

List of chapters and/or sections: Provide a list of all the chapters or major sections in the manual.
Page Numbers: Include page numbers corresponding to each chapter or section for easy reference. MS Word does this automatically for you.
Determine additional information about the manual’s purpose or scope.

Step 3: Draft an Introduction

Purpose of the Manual: Explain the purpose and objectives of the manual.
Overview of Operations: Briefly describe the operations covered in the manual.
Target Audience: Specify the intended audience for the manual.

Step 4: Create a welcome message and a company vision and misson

Welcome Message: A brief welcome note from the organization’s leadership or author.
Mission and Vision: Include the organization’s mission and vision statements.
Organizational Structure: Describe the hierarchy and key roles within the organization.
Core Values: List the core values guiding the organization’s operations.

Step 5: Draft Policies and Procedures

General Policies: Include overarching policies applicable to all operations.
Specific Procedures: Detail step-by-step procedures for various tasks and processes.
Compliance Guidelines: Include legal and regulatory compliance information.

Step 6: Create Operational Guidelines

Workflow Diagrams: Visual representations of key processes and workflows.
Role-specific Guidelines: Detailed guidelines for different roles within the organization.
Best Practices: Recommendations for efficient and effective operations.

Step 7: Determine Training and Development

Training Programs: Information about training programs available for employees.
Skill Development: Resources for skill development and enhancement.
Certification Requirements: Information about certifications required for specific roles.

Step 8: List out resources and tools

List of Tools: Tools, software, and equipment used in day-to-day operations.
Resource Contacts: Contact information for key personnel or support services.
External Resources: Links to relevant external resources and websites.

Step 9: Troubleshooting and FAQs

Common Issues: A list of common problems and challenges with solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Answers to frequently asked questions related to operations.

Step 10: Appendices

Glossary: Definitions of key terms and acronyms used in the manual.
Forms and Templates: Sample forms, templates, and checklists referenced in the manual.
Index: An alphabetical index of topics, terms, and concepts mentioned in the manual, along with corresponding page numbers.
Author/Company Name: Name of the organization or author responsible for the manual.
Date: Date of publication or last update.

Supply:

  • Information gathering.
  • Processes and information from team.

Tools:

  • Word-processing software such as MS Word.

Materials: Knowledge about your organization or advice from employees enabling the gathering of information to collate into a document.

Remember, the key to a successful Operations Manual is clarity and logical organization.

Make sure to review and update the manual to reflect the most current information.


Frequently Asked Questions

What should be in an Operations Manual Table of Contents?

This really depends on the type and complexity of your business, however it should at least cover all the basics such as Human Resources, Financial, Safety, Processes and Marketing.

How long should an Operations Manual be?

The length of an operations manual can vary significantly based on the complexity of the organization, the nature of its operations, and the level of detail included. Generally, operations manuals range from 50 to 200 pages.

What are 8 important sections for an Operations Manual?

Company – Who We Are
Vision and Values
Administration Manual
Human Resources Manual
Finance Manual
Emergency Manual
Marketing Manual
Operations Process Manual

What are some more detailed subsections for an Operations Manual?

General Business Details
Organizational Structure
Roles and Responsibilities
Policies and Procedures
Workplace Safety Protocols
Training and Development
Quality Control Measures
Safety Requirements
Appendices and Resources

Conclusion

Creating an Operations Manual is a massive task. Developing your Operations Manual Table of Contents first is highly recommended so you can plan out what you wish to include in your Operations Manual.

It really depends on the type of business you are operating. If it is relatively simple, then you won’t need overly complex information within it. However, including the basics is very important to ensure you provide structure for your team to follow.

Save a huge amount of time and energy by using an Operations Manual Template.

Operations Manual Template + 50 Free Templates

A professional, business eBook cover with Operations Manual Template text on it. Blue, white, and red background with Digital Documents Direct logo and website address.
Download an Operations Manual Template

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