Where to start when creating your procedure manual
Carefully think through every task you perform to operate your firm. This requires input from your staff and perhaps other stakeholders in your business.
Don’t get down on yourself if the task seems overwhelming.
Creating a manual from nothing requires a serious time investment, and you’ll probably miss some tasks the first time through. Don’t worry about it. A procedures manual is always evolving, just get started and refine as you go.
Try this approach: tell your staff that you’re putting together a procedures manual, and how creating the manual will benefit everyone. Give them several weeks or longer to track their responsibilities and send a written document to a shared folder. Once your workers submit their documents, you’ll have a starting point for a procedures manual.
Next, you (or someone who is managing the process) should meet with each employee and talk through each procedure. Having discussions will help you nail down each procedure that will go into the manual. Documents should be updated after each discussion.
Check with your vendors and some key customers to make sure you’ve considered every angle. A customer, for example, may point out that while they receive every invoice in the mail, emailed invoices are inconsistent. If you want every invoice to be emailed, add that to the invoice procedure.
Getting feedback from stakeholders is the final step to create an accurate procedures manual. For example, a vendor can confirm whether or not your company emails purchase orders to the vendor, or places orders by phone. If the company has an outside investor, the investor can confirm whether or not he receives monthly financial statements to assess company performance.
Keep in mind, important procedures such as month or year end audits, only happen occasionally. You’ll have to simulate those infrequent tasks to get a firm grip on a written procedure. Don’t wait, walk through these tasks as if you are performing them. Put everything in writing as soon as possible.