Document Core Processes and Delegate with Confidence
One of the best ways to ensure your business runs efficiently and profitably is to establish standard processes for common and frequently repeated activities, such as purchasing, billing, project scheduling, and tracking, and contact management. It’s not enough to create those processes, however. You also have to document them in writing so that anyone and everyone in the firm—whether they’re an intern, new hire, or veteran—can refer to them and follow them when needed. Documenting processes not only helps to ensure consistency and accuracy in how your firm is managed, it also is a safeguard in case a situation arises in which someone is called upon to take over duties that are not normally part of their role.
You should have a set of processes for each of the core areas of your business: design, purchasing, marketing, accounting, client and vendor management, and human resources (e.g., payroll, time tracking, and employee onboarding and offboarding). Each process needs to spell out clearly what activities are involved in carrying out the process, what the output or outcome of the process is and why it matters, who is responsible for carrying out the process, and who to ask or what resources to refer to if a problem occurs while performing the process.
Processes can be documented in a variety of ways. They can be written, illustrated with a chart or diagram, programmed into an application such as an accounting or project management software, or story-boarded using screen captures, videos or a presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote). Have staff review the documentation to make sure it is clear and complete, as well as to familiarize themselves with each process.
Once completed, the process documents need to be kept in a central repository that is available to all staff. Maintain both print and digital copies. The documents should be organized by business area, and each individual process should be clearly labeled with a descriptive title for easy identification. If the process is embedded in an application, indicate that and how it can be accessed. Review processes periodically and update them as needed.
Documenting processes can be time-consuming and often tedious. But the benefit to your business is well worth the trouble. Your operations will run more smoothly, and you can spend less time managing, knowing that processes are being conducted properly.
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