Systems & processes

How can I solve specific business issues?

How can I get my paperwork under control?

Who can help me sort out my office work?

To what level have our internal processes been systematised?

To what level are our internal processes understood?

Is our policies and procedures manual reviewed and updated?

Do we have formal security procedures?

Do we have an IT management plan?

Do we have a structured quality management system?

How effective is our customer relationship system?

Do we have internal control systems in place?

Level of systematisation

To what extent have the internal processes of our business been systematised?

To what extent are these systems understood throughout the business?

Policies and procedures manual

What proportion of our policies and procedures are documented and in a policies and procedures manual?

Is the policies and procedures manual reviewed and updated on a regular basis?


Have we implemented formal security procedures in areas such as IT, physical access, and protection of customer records and proprietary information?

To what extent are the security procedures for assets (tangible and intangible) documented?

IT Management

Do we have an IT management plan that outlines our long-term strategic and operating IT plans?

Customer service system

How effective are our systems in monitoring customer service and satisfaction levels?

Do we have a structured quality management system? 

How effective is our customer relationship management system?

Internal control system

To what extent are internal control systems in place in the business?

Overview of systems and processes

What proportion of our policies and procedures are documented and in a policies and procedures manual?

A policies and procedures manual is the 'This is how we do it here' guide. It lays out high-level policies that have been adopted by the business as well as the procedures to be followed in implementing them.

The policies and procedures manual is particularly relevant to the induction of a new team member. It is an invaluable communication tool for efficiently running operations within departments. It can strengthen the operations and ensure consistent quality. It empowers employees by allowing independent decision-making and can contribute to improved productivity.

TIME TO COMPLETE: 5-25 days depending on the size and nature of the business.


Step 1 - Collect any existing documentation on policies and procedures

Discuss and identify whether any policies and procedures are currently in place in the business. If there are, review them to ensure they are appropriate for the business.

Establish document legitimacy, i.e. who authored it, how old it is, and whether it still applies. If the business has undertaken the Action Step on 'Undertake A Review Of The Legal / Regulatory Environment' much relevant material may already have been gathered.

Step 2 - Identify key areas of the business that require policies and procedures

Identify key areas, concentrating on those of most significance, i.e. do not make it bureaucratic, just effective.

The purpose of the policies and procedures manual is to make the business more efficient and reduce risk. Concentrate on areas that impact sales, costs, liabilities or assets. Consider the following:

  • Sales - pricing, discounts, timesheets
  • Costs - making a purchase (use materiality), reimbursing expenses
  • Liabilities - executing a contract, regulatory requirements (specifically see the Action Step referred to above in this regard), tax policies
  • Assets - capex purchasing, asset disposals, depreciation and other asset policies

Step 3 - Identify gaps

If the business does not have policies or procedures in key areas you need to develop them (separate Action Step). Detailed procedures cannot be developed in the absence of key policies.

Ensure policies take the business in the direction it wishes to go and that each policy serves a purpose.

Step 4 - Create a policies and procedures manual

Where you agree there is a need for new or updated policies either update what is currently in existence or create new policies for implementation.

For each policy and procedure develop a guide that documents how it is to be implemented - implementation may be spread over several months.

In each case there should be:

  • A definition of the business area
  • The objective
  • The key requirements
  • The responsible manager
  • Key risks of non-compliance

The policy and procedure then follow.

Combine all policies and procedures set into a single manual that covers what to do and how to do it. It may be best to group it by area, e.g. team, assets, sales, environment etc.

Step 5 - Communicate the Manual to the team

Communicate the existence of the Manual to the team. This does not involve going through the contents. It is to advise all the team that a manual exists, its purpose, the requirement for compliance and for the responsibility of all to keep it relevant and up to date.

Ensure every team member has a copy of the policy and procedures manual.

Ensure a process is in place to keep the manual up to date.


A comprehensive policies and procedures manual covering commonly used procedures, in a standard format, including a process for communicating them to team members and responsibility for its maintenance.

NOTE: for two areas of operations there are specific Action Steps for compiling an operations manual - Develop HR Policies And Procedures Guidelines (in People) and Develop An IT Operating Plan (in Systems And Processes).


Ensure every team member has a copy of the policy and procedures manual.

Periodically review the policies and procedures to make sure they are current.

Communicate all new and updated policies to all affected team members.

Reference the policies and procedures manual in employment contracts.

Ensure that it becomes a way of doing business and not just a collection of lever arch folders that gather dust on shelves.


Waste time creating a policy or a procedure that adds nothing to the business.

Go overboard. Very small businesses require fewer or less rigorous policies than large organisations.