Whether you are a start-up or an existing business, documenting and implementing your business procedures is a must.  An office procedure manual will ensure the consistent and effective running of your business, even if you can’t be there.

Procedures help new team members get up to speed quickly and keep existing team members on track. When you and your team are all following your documented procedures, your business will maintain its consistency, regardless of who performs the task or where they are based.

Simply by having organised systems in place, you gain the freedom to work on rather than in your business. While it can be tricky to get all the necessary information to establish your procedure manual, our VA’s are here to help you put your office procedure manual together.


Planning: Your First Step in Building an Office Procedure Manual

Like all great things, planning is a key activity in the creation of your business’ procedure manual. To get you started, think about the core tasks you do regularly such as:

  • social media marketing
  • processing customer orders
  • sourcing and uploading new products or blog posts.

In general your online business will want to have the following core processes:

  • Marketing Strategy i.e. how do you market your business online or offline?
  • Customer Relationship Strategy i.e. what does your customer service look like?
  • Inventory Management i.e. how do you load your products online?
  • Financial Analysis & Reporting i.e. how do you know you’re making a profit each month?

Sometimes, each section will have more than one procedure to ensure all aspects of the task are captured. For example, your customer relationship strategy will involve procedures like:

  • How to process the order once it is received
  • How and when to communicate with customer throughout the order processing
  • What happens if a product is out of stock
  • How you will follow up with a customer after they have received their order

As your business grows, you will want to include the following processes:

  • Management Responsibility i.e. who is responsible for what and to whom
  • Event and Expo Strategy i.e. how do you find expos/events to attend and how to prepare for them?
  • Technology and Apps i.e. how do you use apps such as email marketing software 

You will also need to think about:

  • How you will use your manual? i.e. how will you ensure you and your team follow the procedure?
  • Who will have access to manual? i.e. who will need to be following each procedure?
  • Where will you store your manual? i.e. online or offline?

Your office procedure manual is a working document, meaning it is constantly evolving as you grow your business and implement new systems. What you plan to include today, may differ from next week and that’s perfectly fine.

Documentation: Your Next Step in Creating Your Office Procedure Manual

Each task you perform, which is related to your business, must be documented. This could involve making a list of steps as you do it or screen-shot the parts of a task and returning to write each part down later. Video is another great way to record how a task is done, without interrupting the flow at the time. Simply record the task being completed, then playback the video and document how the task is done.

Testing: Your Final Step in Developing Your Office Procedure Manual

Now you’ve documented your tasks, it’s essential that they are tested by someone else. Choose someone who doesn’t normally perform that task and ask them to follow the procedure thoroughly (your husband could be a good option or even your child if they are old enough). Get feedback on their experience and how easy the procedure was to follow. Were any steps missed out?

This will give you the information from which you can edit or adjust that task’s procedure if required.