One of the key ways of ensuring your business infrastructure is covering all the necessary bases is by having an operations manual.
“When it comes to the day to day running of your business, you don’t want to be constantly distracted by firefighting administrative and other tasks when you could be focusing on growth. An operations manual is a significant step towards making these things run smoothly, if not automatically.”
What is Your Operations Manual For?
The operations manual is usually in the form of a binder or book, and will contain a company’s standard operating procedures.
“The temptation in a digital age is to see printed matter as somehow inessential, but having a printed record of your processes is a vital means of reinforcing them.”
The operations manual should include:
- The hierarchy of the business, indicating who is responsible for what, and who they report to
- Contact details
- Emergency procedures
- Everything a given individual’s job entails
“Just as you’d expect to have a manual to consult if you got a new car, so the same applies to your business.”
Clarity and Efficiency
The risk with many startups and entrepreneurial businesses is that their essentials are all locked in the heads of their leaders.
“Being some sort of visionary is a great help in igniting that initial spark that gets things going, that launches then drives an enterprise in its early stages, but in the long-term, a sustainable business model needs clear procedures to be truly effective”
The operations manual should capture the essence of a business, from its mission and purpose to its administrative functions. It also helps define and give clarity to the business’ identity.
“You can include things in the manual such as how your phones should be answered, how employees should refer to the company. It helps reinforce brand values and direct behaviours.”
Typical Manual Content
The manual should detail the standard of service the business offers and what its customers can expect from it.
It should be clear about brand values and the design elements of the brand and how they should be applied. This includes elements like typefaces, logos and email signatures.
The manual should have a clear record of administrative procedures, including handling payments, keeping records and invoicing.
It should provide employees with an easy-to-follow guide for carrying out roles and responsibilities.
It should also include any documentation to do with the business that is required by law, such as risk assessments, complaints handling procedures and health and safety.
“What matters most is that your operations manual accurately captures the business systems you have in place. They should come first, and the manual content should follow logically”
An operations manual should be an indicator that certain procedures and processes are in place, while providing absolute clarity about all essential aspects of the business and how it runs.