Process Documentation

clipboard2Documenting your accounting processes provides long term benefits to your business. These benefits include increased control over the accuracy of information and reduced training costs for cross-training and new employees. It also provides an assurance that knowledge will not be lost with the loss of an employee.  Process documentation ranges from simple checklists to step by step detailed procedures.

Cross-training processes to cover positions while someone is on vacation helps to ensure that the flow of processing information is not interrupted. The drawback of cross-training is that the person covering the position often does this only once or twice per year. Having complete and updated documented processes give the person covering the position something to reference in support of their own personal notes for the process.  Many accounting systems have the ability to add notes to records within the accounting system. This is an excellent way to provide additional and specific information for unique situations that is available to everyone with access to that record.

Public companies are required to have those processes directly related to the compilation of financial information documented. Controls are required to be in place to ensure that reported information is accurate. It is easy to determine that you have the proper controls in place when you have documented the processes that are followed in your company.

Each position should be documented with a list of responsibilities for that position and a minimum of the items required to complete those responsibilities.  Procedures including screen prints and report samples provide a solid reference for anyone required to complete a process. Documenting processes does not have to overload your employees. Processes can be done during the course of the work day.

This easy procedure will assist documenting critical positions in your companies workflow.
1    Make a list of the position responsibilities as they occur. This is easily done by keeping a word processing document open or a pad of paper handy to record the current task being worked on.

2    Write out the steps for each responsibility. Write down each step that you do for each task.

3    Provide detailed explanations for each step. Include the use of screen prints where applicable. Referencing a picture helps to jog the memory.

4    Test the written procedure that next time you do that task. Update it with any steps you have missed. Be careful to document every step. Don’t overlook steps have become second nature.  Another person following the procedure may not have the same technical knowledge base that you have.

5    Review the procedure on a yearly basis by following it to ensure that process changes are documented.

6    Document a list of exceptions to the process and description of how those exceptions are handled.

7    Store a copy of all procedures in a common folder.

Insure against the loss of valuable knowledge in your companies processes by reviewing and updating your processes and procedures today.