So you hire a rock star accountant who is totally onboard with the idea of outsourcing accounting. She’s smart and she’s at the top of her game when it comes to a specialisation that is going to compliment your own breadth of knowledge. She knows she’s the one who is going to be responsible for collecting client info before it gets sent to your overseas team.
There’s only one problem. She isn’t doing anything the way you like it done. Why isn’t she getting it? Why isn’t she figuring this thing out?
Well that’s the thing – she is figuring out how outsourcing accounting should work. She just happens to be doing it her own way and not yours. The problem isn’t that she’s screwing things up, the problem is that you never defined what your way actually means for your employees.
It’s time for you to start documenting your workflow systems. Until you get these systems down into a concrete document they are open to interpretation and you’ll have nobody but yourself to blame when a smart person (or a not-so smart one) starts trying to figure out how to do things their own way.
Your very first system.
As the leader of your team you’re going to be the one who creates the very first system document – the document that tells your people how you like to go about creating system documents that lay out work flows for outsourcing accounting, collecting payments, ordering office supplies, and so on.
How you lay out the way systems should be built is of course entirely up to you. After all the whole point of this post is to get things running the way you like them. That being said we do have some suggestions that may help you in designing your systems of creating systems.
Suggestion 1 – Break down the various systems by department.
By breaking down the jobs of your various departments you’ll be able to get a handle on what seems like an overwhelming task. This of course is going to depend on the size of your firm and how many sections you have under your roof.
Outsourcing accounting will stay under your accounting section, or it may go to a compliance section if you have a more refined firm, while smsf tasks go to the smsf section, hiring practices go under HR, and so on.
Added bonus – by breaking the workflows down like this you’ll be better able to identify which employees will be able to help you build a particular system document.
Suggestion 2 – Assign documentation to the right people.
There’s no point in trying to create an expert-level workflow system if you don’t get input from the experts – your people. So make part of your system of systems focus in on the idea of getting input from the people most directly affected by any particular document.
So when you’re outsourcing accounting the related document should have been built by the people who actually do the job – not everything has to be handed down from on high. Besides, as your firm grows you’re going to have to delegate more so you’ll no longer be involved in outsourcing accounting, hiring lower positions, buying supplies, etc. and eventually you won’t have time to do more than give the go ahead to a system document before it officially goes into play.
You’ll be doing yourself a big favour by getting your team involved as soon as possible, and integrating positive changes they suggest as they come up.
Suggestion 3 – Draw a map.
You might be surprised how many different workflows are actually used in your firm. So draw a map from the departments down, leaving space for more workflow documents to be added as they pop up.
At the same time you’re going to want to create a separate database from your map listing which systems need to be documented now as opposed to ones that can be shuffled further down in the pile. Outsourcing accounting practices, for example, would rank fairly high while buying supplies could probably be held off for a day or two.
How do you rank them? Use your best judgement. Which workflows, when improved and documented, would give your firm the biggest boost?
Get your people on board.
You’re not going to be able to create all of these documents yourself. Nor should you want to. They do mean extra work for your people, but this extra work is very short term leaving a very significant long-term benefit – your team is going to know what their leader wants from them. No more guesswork and no more managers leaning over their shoulders. The systems are as much benefit to your people as they are to your firm as a whole.