Only two percent of organizations have all their internal processes modeled and documented. Apparently, the other 98 percent don't want to enjoy the benefits of process standardization.
… Or they don’t know how to seize the growth opportunities through effective documentation. If that’s the case for you, we’re here to help.
In this article, you'll find some of the most significant benefits of sharing step-by-step instructions within an organization, with several step-by-step guide templates that you can use and share with your team.
What is a step-by-step guide?
A step-by-step guide is a detailed walkthrough of a process broken down into tasks. It can be used to teach people how to do anything from building a website to cooking a meal.
Step-by-step guides can be internal and external. Internal tutorials establish particular ways of performing specific processes and procedures (a.k.a standard operating procedures or SOPs) and transfer this knowledge between employees.
The target audience of external tutorials is the organization’s prospects or customers. This type of guidance offers walkthroughs and best practices to help users make the most of a product, service, or tool.
Depending on the complexity of the workflow, step-by-step guides may include screenshots, videos, gifs, examples, or any other elements that add clarity.
How step-by-step instructions affect your business
Why spend hours documenting the process when you can explain it in person in 5 minutes?
Step-by-step guides form a strong base for successful business operations. They standardize internal processes by outlining employees' key steps to reach the desired objective.
These are some tangible benefits of creating easy-to-follow how-to guides for your teams:
- Time savings. Employees spend 20 percent of the workweek looking for help with specific tasks. Having how-to guides at hand would help to spend this time more productively.
- Improved collaboration. Fifty-four percent of respondents consider improved employee collaboration the biggest benefit of digital documentation.
- Money savings. Enterprises waste from $2.5 to $3.5 million per year as a result of the lack of knowledge sharing. Process documentation is one of the most effective ways to transfer institutional knowledge and address the knowledge-sharing problem.
- Better onboarding experience. Ready-to-use step-by-step guides save people managers’ time and introduce new employees to the information they need to do their work successfully.
- Faster project delivery. Unshared knowledge forces employees to spend time recreating their coworkers’ existing expertise or just delay the work in question. All of these result in project delays which can be eliminated with process standardization.
- Increased employee engagement. The studies prove that knowledge sharing affects employee engagement. Indeed, 81 percent of employees feel frustrated when they can't access the information they need to do their job. With clear instructions available on demand, employees spend less time searching for the necessary information and feel empowered to be proactive at work.
- Human error prevention. Failure to follow proper procedures is a major reason for human errors in organizations, making up 45 percent of total errors. This way, by creating and distributing how-to guides outlining the key business processes, you can prevent up to 45 percent of errors caused by improper procedures
Adding visuals to your step-by-step guide template
Visuals make it easier for end-users to understand and adopt complex processes effortlessly. Follow these tips to enhance your guides with visuals that add value:
- Use different types of visuals: Integrate screenshots, GIFs, screen recordings, charts, graphs and videos in your step-by-step instructions to cater to diverse learning preferences.
- Incorporate the right number of visuals: Strike a balance between text and visuals in your walkthroughs. Visuals should complement the content, not overwhelm it. Use visuals strategically to illustrate critical steps, highlight key data and clarify challenging concepts.
- Showcase industry-specific solutions: Tailor visuals to suit your industry and audience. Providing industry-specific examples and visuals resonates better with end-users, as they can relate to familiar scenarios and challenges.
15+ Free step-by-step guide templates
There are countless applications of step-by-step instructions in business. These guides help you work faster while upskilling your clients or colleagues.
1. Make your own step-by-step guide template in seconds
Scribe is an AI-powered tool that documents your processes for you. Turn your unique workflows into visual guides that you can customize and share — without having to write a word.
Scribe captures your screen, then builds you a guide, complete with text, links and annotated screenshots.
2. Generic step-by-step guide template
Here's an every-day step-by-step guide template so you can build clear and concise instructions for any task or process. Having a well-structured step-by-step guide helps users to quickly and easily complete tasks, increasing efficiency and reducing the chance of errors.
3. Standard operating procedure (SOP) step-by-step guide template
SOPs help companies maintain operational consistency and quality, and maintain compliance.
An SOP template is a pre-designed document that outlines the format and structure for creating standard operating procedures. Use this template to save time and resources while ensuring that their SOPs are clear, concise, and consistent.
4. Employee onboarding step-by-step guide template
The most common use case for step-by-step instructions is employee onboarding and training. HR reps and people managers create detailed guides for new hires to follow when they join the organization.
Step-by-step guides bring the opportunity to replace in-person lessons and one-on-one guidance, allowing organizations to scale hiring and onboarding without disturbing senior employees. These guides usually include role-specific training, an introduction to company culture and a presentation of internal processes and procedures.
5. Customer onboarding step-by-step guide template
Every company should provide their clients or customers with helpful resources that provide clear directions and tutorials on how to get started with the product or service. These onboarding manuals usually cover a range of topics for customers at all levels, from the very basics for beginners (e.g. “how to create your Salesforce account”) to more advanced workflows (e.g. “how to create Salesforce automation rules”) for high-level professionals.
Software companies often include product functionality walkthroughs and advice for resolving problems, a.k.a. troubleshooting guides.
6. Customer service step-by-step guide user template
Step-by-step guides are essential tools to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. By creating a catalog of common customer problems and corresponding solutions, customer service teams can quickly identify and follow the best course of action.
The guides may also include advanced techniques for effectively handling customer feedback and resolving confusion.
7. User manual step-by-step guide template
Eighty-five percent of employees agree that preserving and sharing unique knowledge in the workplace is critical to increasing productivity.
Businesses often use step-by-step guides to document the most effective approaches and standardize internal processes.
This enables employees to perform tasks most efficiently, increasing overall team productivity.
8. Product training step-by-step guide user template
Introducing new technology to employees is nearly impossible without proper guidance. According to a recent McKinsey study, most organizations achieve less than one-third of the expected impact from their digital investments.
To drive software adoption, managers create step-by-step guides that provide clear directions on installing, setting up and using business software.
9. Training manual template
This comprehensive guide designed to help trainers deliver effective training programs. It provides a structured framework that can be customized to fit the specific needs of any training program.
10. Work instructions template
Standardize and simplify the process of creating work instructions for different tasks or activities. This template includes sections for a brief introduction or overview of the task, a list of materials or equipment needed, step-by-step instructions, safety precautions and any other relevant information.
11. Transition plan template
Facilitate a smooth transition from one stage or phase of a project or process to another. this step-by-step guide user template typically outlines the steps and procedures that need to be taken during the transition period and provides a clear roadmap for all involved parties.
12. Strategic plan template
This comprehensive step-by-step guide helps you create a roadmap for achieving an organization's long-term goals and objectives.
13. Workflow step-by-step guide template
This free template outlines the step-by-step instructions to help teammates complete a specific process. By using this template, teams can ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of the process and the steps involved in completing it.
14. Leadership development plan template
Develop and cultivate your high-potential employees into future leaders. The program is delivered over a period of six months and focuses on developing skills in communication, team management, strategic thinking, and change management.
15. Software step-by-step guide user template
This software user guide template enables you to help users to get the most out of the software and reduce the number of support requests or issues that may arise.
16. Recruitment plan template
Attract and hire the best candidates for the job while minimizing the time and cost required to fill the position.
... See more in our template gallery.
How to create a step-by-step guide
Make step-by-step guides to standardize repeatable tasks.
One of the best ways to get started is to use a template or process documentation tool.
Scribe is an AI-powered tool that documents any process for you. Make and visual step-by-step guides in seconds.
Want to build step-by-step instructions from scratch? Here's how to get started.
Step 1: Identify the problem(s)
When you get to process standardization, you don’t reinvent the wheel. You just need to document steps you’ve been taking regularly for a long (or not so long) time. But before you do it, you should also define which processes should be documented in the first place.
Talk to the team and the leaders to learn about their day-to-day activities. Start with identifying generic topics (e.g., sales prospecting) and then get more specific (e.g., sales prospecting on LinkedIn). Generic topics will form clusters; more specific processes will be outlined in separate guides under those clusters.
If you work on customer-facing guides, turn to customer data to reveal common pain points, challenges and frequently asked questions. Your product experience data and customer service reports will provide you with plenty of valuable insights.
Step 2: Define the audience
Is the future guide more of an onboarding resource, or should it help senior employees to address roadblocks? Is it intended for one specific team, or will the entire company use it?
The answers will indicate whether you need to explain the terminology, introduce readers to the tools and provide a wider context. Knowing in advance which personas will use your guide helps to speak their language without overcomplicating or oversimplifying things.
Step 3: Pick the software
Automating process documentation allows you to save precious time and reduces the possibility of spreading inaccurate information. It’s easy to miss critical information when dealing with complex, multi-step processes.
SOP tools like Scribe will automatically create visual step-by-step guides while you carry out the processes that you want to capture.
Step 4: Outline the steps
If you choose to create how-to guides manually or need to document the process that can’t be captured automatically (for instance, you might want to share a guide to cold calling), you should draft the key steps of the process first.
You can order the steps later – the most important task at this point is to define the milestones to hit along the way.
Step 5: Write up the guide
Now that you have drafted a structure, you can order the steps, add subheadings and support the process document with visuals. Having the written steps outlined first will help you greatly in deciding which visual components your guide needs.
In case you use software, it’s also a moment when you can adjust the guide that has been automatically generated. Add tips and notes enabling readers to perform the process more effectively and troubleshoot if necessary.
You don’t need to add much copy. Just make sure you include enough illustrations supporting the points you make.
Step 6: Share with your team
Step-by-step guides only work when you distribute them properly. You can make your new step-by-step guides stick by following these practices:
- Announce new guides through internal communication channels, like email or Slack;
- Link to the resource library from your internal communication and collaboration platforms;
- Highlight new guides and process updates inside the internal knowledge base;
- Use bots that will capture the changes in the knowledge base and send the updates via your chosen communication platform;
- Enable collaboration on your how-to guides.
Step 6: Update regularly
Once you’ve started to build process documentation, you’re never done with it. If you fail to update the guides as you develop new processes or update the existing ones, you’ll end up with a collection of manuals nobody uses.
To keep your how-to guides up to date, allocate some time monthly or quarterly to check in and make adjustments.
Step-by-step guide template benefits
Step-by-step guides drive significant benefits for any businesses, like:
1. Consistency and standardization
Establishing consistent processes is the key to enhancing employee performance and achieving the organization’s operational goals.
Step-by-step guides break down complex processes into simple and actionable steps, establishing a standardized method that all employees can follow.
2. Improved knowledge sharing
By creating and promoting step-by-step guides, you give employees access to the team's collective expertise. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and empowers individuals to acquire new skills and knowledge.
3. Higher levels of collaboration
Standardized procedures and approaches ensure that all team members are on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and promoting smooth cooperation.
Sadly, the average employee spends 5.3 hours per week waiting for assistance or insights from colleagues. When having step-by-step guides in place, one can always share relevant links with anyone in need of guidance instead of providing in-person assistance.
This saves time and empowers individuals to take ownership of their tasks and problem-solving.
4. Streamlined onboarding experience
Incorporating step-by-step tutorials into the onboarding course significantly improves the experience for new hires. The use of infographics and clear instructions in step-by-step guides simplifies the learning process for individuals, allowing them to grasp new concepts and achieve efficiency faster.
5. Enhanced quality control & fewer errors
Step-by-step guides help address quality control challenges and minimize errors within an organization.
When following standardized processes, employees can achieve consistent and error-free outputs, maintaining high standards and accomplishing excellence in the organization's operations.
Step-by-step user guide template: FAQ
1. What is the purpose of a step-by-step tutorial?
A step-by-step tutorial provides a structured and systematic approach to guide end-users through a process or task. It offers clear instructions and visuals to help users quickly understand and complete complex procedures.
2. What are the key components of a step-by-step guide?
The critical components of a step-by-step guide are:
- An introduction providing context and suggesting expected outcomes.
- A series of well-organized steps.
- Relevant visuals or infographics.
- A list of suitable materials.
3. How to make a step-by-step guide template
To create a step-by-step guide template, start with a title and introduction, then add placeholders for steps, visuals and descriptions. Use a consistent format and layout to maintain clarity and uniformity throughout the guide.
It’s best to turn to automation software to create and reuse those templates. Many platforms offer user-friendly step-by-step guide templates, simplifying the process of designing and organizing your guide. These tools often come with built-in features for adding visuals, editing content and customizing layouts.
Scribe makes your life easier by offering pre-designed step-by-step guide templates for any use case.
4. What are the mistakes to avoid when making a step-by-step guide?
Creating step-by-step guides is no rocket science, but there are pitfalls that may hinder the effectiveness of the process:
- Using complex language: Use language that is easily understandable to your target audience, regardless of their level of expertise.
- Including too much information: It’s best to split a guide into several manuals if there are too many steps and details to cover.
- Neglecting visuals and examples: Visuals, such as images, diagrams and videos, are crucial for enhancing user comprehension in step-by-step guides. Neglecting them can make the guide dull and less engaging.
- Writing it manually: Automation software speeds up the documentation process and ensures consistency in guide formatting and layout.
5. How can step-by-step instructions be used to improve customer service?
Step-by-step guides empower self-service by providing customers with clear instructions to troubleshoot common issues on their own. All you need to do is to include your step-by-step instructions in the self-service portal, website, or external knowledge base.
Use step-by-step guide templates to work faster
Once you've built and shared your own guides with our step-by-step guide templates — it's time to see your team's productivity skyrocket!
Remember that the launch is only the beginning. Step-by-step guides are living documents that should evolve with your processes.
Want something even faster than a template?
Use a tool like Scribe to capture, edit and share guides in half the time. Got process changes? Simply update the step without having to build a brand-new document.
Create your own guides, without hassle. Generate free step-by-step guides today.