You may already have a disaster recovery plan that will keep your doors open by using alternative office spaces. But do you also have a procedures manual that details all the important plans for keeping your business going? The creating of a procedures manual is often overlooked in disaster recovery plan strategies – but it can sometimes be even more important because minor emergencies are more frequent than disasters.
A procedure manual lets everyone know how everything is done, just in case the person who normally takes care of those things is not available. When a problem needs to be solved or a task needs to be performed, others can go to the manual and find the solutions, rather than having to chase down others for answers. A good procedures manual can also be used for training new staffers, especially if they are replacing people who have already left your small business.
The procedures manual functions as written document that lists clear, step-by-step instructions on how to complete a job task or how to handle a specific situation when it arises in the workplace. The manual also lists things like: who takes care of what; when tasks should be done; contact info of outside vendors; and a list of usernames and passwords for online accounts – such as the company website and social media accounts.
Another thing that should be in your procedures manual is information about your office space and who is responsible for what. Who is responsible for opening and closing the office? Who takes care of the telephone system? Who takes care of the photocopiers and fax machines? Who is the IT contact for the computers and other technology? These become less important if you are using the space-sharing model or an office business centre.
A procedures manual can be as simple as having a logbook – or as detailed as securing professional help to establish procedures and create a full manual that has the A-to-Z’s of daily business operations. Procedures manuals can also be put on a platform that allows certain people full access to the information that they are responsible for and need to know. Usually, only senior staff can change those access rights.
If you are a slightly larger small business with a number of employees, you might want to make it your “Policies and Procedures Manual” with information about who is responsible for what roles or tasks and who their back-up person is. You might even have a section that fully explains each person’s job responsibilities. What about dress codes, smoking policies, scent policies and other rules that you have in writing, so workers do not believe you have just made up some arbitrary rules for them?
Remember that your procedures manual can also serve as an all-inclusive reference tool for you each and every day. If you have a lot of information, details, forms, checklists and data that are required to do the job properly, your procedures manual can also serve as a great desk reference. It’s just as helpful to you as it is to others who may be covering for you when you’re out! As well, if there are tasks you only do on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, you might want to have the reference material to remind you how it should be done.