Writing Procedures: TELL

TELL: Test Every Line for Logic
A written procedure that back-tracks or omits critical steps is no better than trial-and-error. And if it provides safety warnings that follow risky operations instead of preceding the hazardous steps, it is not just inefficient–it’s dangerous.

  1. Make sure you have determined the end goal(s).
    A complex procedure has an end goal that is the culmination of lots of smaller subprocedures, each of which has its own end goal. For example, a novice cook whose end goal is yummy potato salad actually has several subgoals. 

    – Get the potatoes ready (scrub them, cook them peel them, cube them)

    – Prep the eggs (boil them, cool them, peel them, chop them)

    – Put together the dressing (measure and mix mayonnaise, mustard, spices)

  2. Account for required conditions.
    A useful procedures includes things that the reader must know about, tools he must locate, schedules to be followed; all these are part of the logical analysis. Describe each required condition at the right place in the procedure–before the user begins the step where the condition becomes significant.

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