Office systems and procedures

Written by renee o'farrell | 13/05/2017
Office systems and procedures
Office layout is a function of systems and procedures. (shekhardino/iStock/Getty Images)

To be able to operate with consistency, it is essential for any business to establish the systems and procedures it will use in its operations; doing so provides many benefits. Aside from the fact that consistency in procedures and the completeness with which those procedures are carried out is, in many cases, a legal mandate, consistency in procedures increases efficiency (things become routine) and morale (no one has to ask how nor can they disagree).

Proceduraliszing the office

Establishing set business and bookkeeping procedures will help ensure a uniform and accurate system, preventing employees from needing to ask how to do everyday tasks. While procedures will evolve with the business, setting up office systems and business procedures from the beginning will save time and money. Procedures are simply defined as the processes employed to complete specific tasks, such as how an invoice is entered in the system or how returns are processed.

When writing a procedure, it is important to imagine that no prior knowledge exists. The procedure should be able to stand alone and be executed without further clarification. This means that a well-written procedure will list every action required to complete a task, even really simple ones, such as "Turn the computer on." For example, if writing a procedure on how to make a cheese and onion sandwich, opening the packet of cheese still needs to be listed, even though it seems obvious. The same is true in writing procedures for business.

Identifying tasks

Special care should be taken when identifying what tasks should be proceduralised; they must not only be clear but relevant. Imagine what tasks may need to be performed independently of senior staff. Spend a few days writing down the steps taken to perform regular employee tasks. Also, spend some time brainstorming scenarios that are likely, such as special orders, damaged merchandise, returns, ordering supplies, etc. Administrative procedures, such as how to request time off, and how employees are disciplined, should be prepared before hiring the first employee.

These procedures, together with the policies of the company, form the employee handbook, which should be as professional and well-organised as possible. Not only are employee handbooks the first formal communication with a new employee, they are also frequently requested by investors. Employee handbooks are sometimes necessary to obtain insurance and are valuable in preventing and defending lawsuits, not to mention freeing up the manager's time.

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