You know you should have written procedures – everyone tells you so. But writing procedures falls very clearly under the “important but not urgent” umbrella, making it easy to let the project slide to the bottom of the pile. To help motivate you, here are 8 reasons why you really should have documented procedures in place.
1. Make your firm scalable
Clearly documented procedures lead to a shorter training cycle for new staff, giving them a place to get their questions answered without having to interrupt other team members. Procedures also facilitate cross-training, allowing team members to fill in where they are needed. They create a system where staff can help and coach each other, instead of everyone needing to get answers from one or two busy people.
2. Store your firm’s knowledge capital
When you take the time to write good procedures you are creating a bank to store all of the experience and unique techniques gleaned from countless hours of work. Storing your knowledge capital in procedures means that if a key staff member leaves the firm, all of their knowledge and experience doesn’t walk out the door with them.
3. Add value to your firm
Unless you plan on working until you drop, you probably will want to sell, pass on, or merge your firm someday. Clearly documented procedures mean that the firm can operate without you and increase the chance that clients will stay after the changeover, which are both very important criteria for a buyer.
4. Increase productivity
In accounting and bookkeeping firms, there are often tasks that are only performed once a quarter or once a year. Or tasks that are performed at irregular intervals or only for one particular client. If you document the procedures for these types of tasks, you eliminate the need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ each time.
5. Provide consistency and accountability
Procedures give your team the tools they need to perform their work consistently and effectively. They act as a firm’s quality control, making sure that services are performed correctly every time. They are where you tell your staff “This is how we do things here” and provide an accountability standard.
6. Create a structured work environment
Documenting and following procedures creates a structured work environment, which will attract the right kind of team. Without a structure, what you get are people who thrive on chaos – is that really a good personality for an accounting or bookkeeping firm?
7. Protect clients
Let’s face it, life is uncertain. If anything were to happen to you what would happen to your clients? In fact, more and more clients are asking to see their accountants’ and bookkeepers’ procedures, in order to make sure they are covered if disaster strikes.
8. Protect the Firm
Client relationships can be less than perfect. If (heaven forbid) you and one of your clients end up in a room full of lawyers, having documented procedures that you can point to will help protect your firm. Even better if you have a system like Aero that records the fact that the procedures were followed– but that’s a different blog!