How confident are you that at a moment’s notice someone could follow your financial processes?
Mapping out business processes is an essential part of running an efficient business. Without a visual or written representation of how the repetitive processes required for your business are completed, your team are left to 2nd guess what to do and will inevitably make mistakes.
If you don’t clearly define a business process through mapping, each department and individual is left to create his/her own sequence and assignment. This leads to chaos, confusion, and blame when the task owners are not clearly assigned. A long-term sickness, a termination of contract or worse a death of co-worker can leave a business in a mess if processes aren’t put into place.
If you are a sole trader, you aren’t exempt from this problem. What if you want to grow and take someone on? Are you going to have to spend hours showing someone what to do, making it up on the spot and confuse the hell out of them or are you ready to hand over the process manual and, with a demonstration, be confident that things will be done properly, the way you want them?
It may seem like a laborious task and one you may have been procrastinating over for some time, but I can assure you it’s worthwhile and can benefit you and your business in many ways including:
- Clarity around the process
- Systematic control over how the process functions
- Establish the operational norms
- Increased process visibility
- Better compliance with industry standards
- More uniform employee training
- Reduces the risk of fraud
But where do I start? I hear you say. Well take a process such as quoting and invoicing.
Firstly, gather all those currently involved in the process. You need the voices of several people who are both responsible for the financial process and who are actively involved in the day-to-day activities.
Discuss the process, such as
- How do I raise a quote?
- Am I using software that is appropriate for my business?
- Does it include all the information I need?
- How long is it taking me to raise a quote?
- Am I confident that this quote ensures I’m making a profit?
When invoicing ask yourself
- How do I send it to the customer? Is this the best way?
- Are the payment terms clear?
- Have I made it easy for the client to pay me?
Don’t forget a quote is probably the first official document you’ll send to your customer, and we all know about first impressions!
Then begin by listing out all the human tasks. What are all the things that humans do as part of this process? Initially, this is often best done with sticky notes that can be easily moved around later.
Next, list out all the system tasks. There are many tasks such as data transfers, sending emails, or simple folder creation that can be done better by a machine than a human.
Following this, go back and check your list of tasks and see if some can be eliminated, converted to a notification, or switched to a system task.
Then determine who is responsible for each task. Most tasks will have a single owner. Some could be assigned to a group of people, but someone should be ultimately held accountable for the timely completion. System tasks also need someone responsible in case there are any errors.
Finally, set the sequence of tasks. What needs to happen first? Can some tasks be done at the same time? Which tasks are dependent on others? When is the process complete? While this phase is best done with physical objects like moveable cards, eventually, you will want to move to a business process mapping tool that can digitize what you’ve created.
At Get Smart Accountants we work with our clients to drive growth and help them achieve their dreams.
If you’d like some advice or support to get your business moving in the right direction, then we’d love to hear from you.
Call Paul or Emma on 01902 212937