These days, all existing companies design their documentation according to business documentation standards of document preparation and production. The quality of documentation is one of the most essential conditions of the successful functioning of the company.
Business documents are produced in order to “communicate with its customers, its employees, its suppliers, the government, and other businesses” (Microsoft Office 2003 2). The purpose and design of a business document depends on the type of the business operation. In this light, every type of the business document can be produced using different software and software applications.
There is a number of features in a specific software used to create business documents, such as style, templates and macros. These tools help design and produce documents so that they fit document standards.
As it has already been mentioned, every type of the business operation requires certain industry based design standards. One of the business operation types is Purchasing, “purchasing product need to be controlled to ensure purchased products/services conform to the organization’s requirements” (Arrowsmith, Linarelli, and Wallace 407). Thus, purchase documentation should contain information on products and processes of sales/purchasing.
Each company that deals with purchasing should design its documents according to standards depending on the document needs of the organization. In order to define the document requirements and establish standards, in is necessary to “identify the types of documents required, determine entry, storage and quality needs, determine information technology capability” (“Manage Business Document Design and Development” n. p.).
In addition, in order to produce definite types of purchase documents, it is necessary to remember that “the purchase documentation should contain information clearly describing the product/service ordered” (Oakland and Marosszeky 237). Each purchasing document is valid in definite operating location, “each operating location is responsible for the development and maintenance of records that document procurement and payment activity” (“Documentation Guidelines” n. p.).
The contend of the document and some elements of structure can vary depending on the type of the operation location and the company’s business activities, definite components of structure and design should be presented at the document and should be designed according to the standards of the business documentation.
Thus, one of the most important features of the purchasing document is the information about product/services ordered, such as “requirements for approval or qualification of product and /or service, procedures, processes, equipment and personnel and any management system requirements” (Oakland and Marosszeky 237).
The ISO 9001 Standard provide different aspects of the purchasing documentation, however, the main requirement is that the document reflected the process of purchasing which, in its turn, should be taken under definite process, “The organization is required to document the request for the product purchased. Within the documentation, naturally, you must include all the product’s characteristics” (“Documenting the Purchase according to the ISO 9001 Standard Requirements” n. p.).
In particular, each document should include the name of the product, diagrams and editions, the serial number of the product, packaging requirements, delivery requirements, quality management requirements, such as COC certificates or any test reports (COT) (“Documenting the Purchase according to the ISO 9001 Standard Requirements” n. p.).
Taking into consideration the information motioned earlier, we can provide a register of purchasing documents standards.
The purchasing document should define the purchasing process.
The document should contain full information about the product purchased (the name of the product, diagrams and editions, the serial number of the product, packaging requirements, delivery requirements, quality management requirements, such as COC certificates or any test reports (COT)).
According to “Documentation Guidelines for Purchasing and Payment Activities”, purchasing documentation should also include: “approved requisition, sponsor approval of specific purchases, basis for vendor selection, competitive price solicitation or bidding, copies of vendor contracts and subcontracts, basis for award cost or price, cost or price analysis” (n. p.) and some other specific sections depending on the type of purchase contract and purchasing process.
The purchasing documentation should be comprehensive to many businesses. In this regard, purchasing documentation should avoid: confusing layout and packaging, “frequently, conditions of tender are mixed with conditions of contract and are interspersed with technical specifications” (“Construction Procurement” 13); to specific “legalese” which makes contractors spend too much time to familiarize with the document.
Purchasing documentation should be properly structured. Each document has two parts or “areas”: the header and several individual items included into the headers. Each header reflects the information that is relevant to the general topic of the document. The items serve as specifications for the purchasing process or products. For example, “information about the vendor and the document number is contained in the document header, and the material description and the order quantity are specified in each item” (Purchasing (MM-PUR) 24).
Purchasing document can contain additional data. Additional data needed to provide additional information about the items. It can be “account assignment data (such as cost center and G/L account) and the PO history for an item, which contains information on already recorded goods and invoice receipts relating to the item” (Purchasing (MM-PUR) 24).
Purpose of the document and type of the business operation create document standard. A document standard is a set of forms and rules that should be taken into consideration when creating document of a particular types “It is important for all companies, both small and large, to have a set of guidelines and standards in place for document production and handling” (Microsoft Office 2003 14).
This provides every employee with the opportunity to become well aware of the documents types and peculiarities in a short period of time. When establishing standards for the documents, several aspects should be taken into consideration. The network of administration: the documents should be easily accessed by the relevant people.
Folder and file naming: “using proper guidelines ensures that important documents can be found easily in the future” (Microsoft Office 2003 14). This information can be included into the footers, headers, on the front or the last page of the document (Microsoft Office 2003 14).
There should be standards for the organization’s logos, colors and different forms of branding; the guidelines should provide detailed information on sizing, placing and color of logos and other issues related to the identification of the brand. Definite style should also be used in documents of a particular type.
Thus, the company should define general standards for usage of “headings, table text, figure text, captions, and other text in the document” (Microsoft Office 2003 14).
Standards have a great meaning for the purchasing documentation. First of all, it provides the possibility to present the information about the products purchased in the organized order, find the document in the database quickly, provide the employees of the company learn about the documents quickly and communicate the information clearly.
Standards and policies about the standard of purchasing documents for an organization are: clearly define the information about the purchase, define roles and responsibilities of those who participate in the sale/purchase process, provide templates for style and production of the documents.
First of all, if a company wants to implement these standards, it should provide detailed templates which will be available for all employees. Furthermore, each employee should be properly trained and practiced in producing standard documents and must learn working with software applications, such as word.
However, several things should be considered about standards. The most considerable one is the period in which they should be changed, several unchangeable features, clearness of the information provided and understandability for other business.
Thus, document standards are important for every company. The company can have individual preferences concerning design of the documents. Key factors that influence standard design of the document are peculiarities of storage the documents, requirements of the organization of the information and available technology for the design of the documents.
Preparing a purchasing document, it is very important to “use design elements to provide emphasis without overwhelming the content” (Krieger n. p.). Microsoft Office Word 2007 provides opportunities to create documents quickly and follow the established standards.
First of all, it is important to create a proper look to a document. In other words, all documents should have the same style. Using “Themes” provided by the application, it becomes possible to coordinate font, colors and graphic effects and apply them to all the document of the same type. Moreover, the company can create its own set of style.
“These are texts pertaining to an individual item. Item text is printed after the item data (that is, the material number and short description, quantity, price, etc.)” (“Creating and Formatting Texts” n. p.). In order to separate different texts of the purchasing document, for example, the information about the product, the use of tables can be applied “you can use them to hold text, graphics, or other tables” (Krieger n. p.).
Word 2007 provides the opportunity to use graphics to illustrate the key points, for example, separate headers and briefly outline the key details of the sale purchasing contract:
“Create a SmartArt diagram as easily as typing a bulleted list, and convey more than boring old bullets ever could. You just type your text in the SmartArt text pane, and the diagram is automatically built for you” (Krieger n. p.)
Additional information for the document can be presented in footnotes. If there is some important information in the document that needs clarification, the footnotes can be very helpful. Microsoft Word 2007 provides the opportunity create footnotes automatically.
Structure of the document is also very important for outlining key elements and the most important point shat should be paid closer attention. In order to organize the document in the appropriate way, the usage of the heading style and table of contents can be very useful:
“Heading styles also provide other benefits: Insert cross-references to heading-styled text, easily add outline numbering, and create a table of contents in no time at all. Find these styles on the Home tab, in the Styles group” (Krieger n. p.).
The standard documentation process is very important so that all member of the company’s team could have a clear understanding of the project (in our case purchasing project) and know their responsibilities.
In addition: “a document’s design needs to be appropriate for the tone and content of the content. Furthermore, it needs to look professional and serve as a positive representation of an agency’s work” (“The Documentation Process” 3).
In addition, the documentation process has several steps that include planning, writing, delivery and archiving “The phases of the technical writing process are not necessarily discrete” (“The Technical Writing Process” n. p.). However, all these steps should be taken for successful documentation process.
There are four basic design principles that should be used in order to create and, consequently, evaluate design. They are contrast, proximity, repetition, alignment.
Contrast. It is needed when there are two very important elements on the page that should be emphasized. For example headlines and subheadings in the purchasing document.
Proximity. The related items should be placed closer to each other that the ones that are not related. This facilitates the readability of the document.
Repetition. One of the most important features of the purchasing document is logically presented information about the product and steps of the purchasing process. Thus, the elements that are repeated through the document should appear in the same way.
Alignment. When there are many different elements on a page, they should be visually connected or separate so that create unity.
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