There are many reasons bookkeepers should document their procedures, from onboarding new members of your team to increasing productivity in the workplace. However, there are a few things to consider when you’re ready to start storing your firm’s knowledge capital.
Focus on goals
Small tasks are much easier to tackle when you understand the larger goal. For your written procedures, you’ll want to make sure this goal is constantly kept in mind. You can do this by beginning each procedure with a short paragraph about what the procedure is for and why it’s important to follow the instructions closely. You can also include important information like the expected outcome and any vital warnings. Are there common mistakes or obstacles associated with this task? Write that down!
Organize your information
Structuring your document well is essential to your audience’s understanding. How are you going to format this information? Would a bulleted list be effective or could an instructional YouTube video help you more clearly explain your processes? Here, it’s best to keep in mind who you’re talking to. A long-time staff member might not need as much information as a new team member going through onboarding. Regardless of the specific format, you’ll want to keep things short and to the point. If your procedure is longer than a few pages, consider breaking it up into multiple short procedures.
Listen to your experts
If you’re working with a team, chances are you delegate as much work as you perform. You might not be familiar with the ins and outs of every process at your firm. In this case, it’s best to trust your experts. Rather than writing the procedure for a job you aren’t as familiar with, ask the person who usually performs the task for their help. You should also be getting feedback from your team on the procedures you write. Sometimes when we do a task frequently, it becomes second nature. We might miss important little details when trying to write them down, which is why having a second pair of eyes on your documents is always helpful.
Store your documents in a safe place
If you spent a lot of time writing a good procedure, losing it is the last thing you want to do. Save yourself the extra work by storing your documents in a safe place where they are easy to locate. If you’re storing your documents digitally, you’ll have to make sure that everyone who needs to access them is able to.
Update your procedures!
Unfortunately, keeping written procedures for your firm doesn’t end with writing them down — you’ve got to maintain your procedures. That means you’ll need to have a plan in place to handle changes and updates in your business. For example, what if you implement new technology in your practice? You’ll need to have a process for updating your procedures to account for this new way of doing things.
A great written procedure should be thorough, easy to understand, AND easy to find. After all, your goal is to make sure your bookkeeping processes run smoothly. On top of that, you want to make sure your firm is ready to adapt to whatever changes come your way.