Transforming a procedures manual on
contracting professional services
The Department of Water and Power for the City of Los Angeles (LADWP) had a 10-year old policies and procedures (P&P) manual on their process for contracting professional services. LADWP needed the manual updated, in compliance with audit requirements, simplified, and accessible online by nearly 800 employees. They wanted the manual to be an exemplary model to share with other government agencies. LADWP engaged Urgo & Associates for its broad expertise and reputation in P&P.
Urgo & Associates led a three-phase effort. In Phase 1, we planned the project by leading a focus group to identify the characteristics of the users, and to design the stages and tasks needed to perform the contracting process. In Phase 2, we collaborated closely with their subject experts to develop the content using structured writing techniques designed for online communication. We devised and simplified forms and tasks, and ensured all sub-processes had closures. In Phase 3, we advised on selecting online software for hosting their P&P.
Our efforts transformed the structure and function of the manual to align with the contracting process. Previously, users accessed information by a subject strewn throughout the manual, written in bureaucratic language, and in a static online document (portable document files). Now, they can access information by subject and by stages and tasks (the way they need to perform), written in user friendly language, and in a dynamic (hypertext) online system. Users have easier access, better comprehension, less reading, and fewer interruptions and mistakes.