Getting Your Organizational Policies and Procedures in Order

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that this is a problem best solved by management. Regardless of how your procedures became disorganized, management must lead the way when it comes to affecting real change in the organization. Leaving the task in the hands of administration alone limits the chances of success.

Getting started requires a plan, and here is what I recommend:

    1. Identify which issues pose the biggest risk to your business: risk of loss is a top motivator when reworking your processes and procedures. Consider which items create the largest potential for loss and start there. Work from most to least urgent, dealing with a single set of issues completely and transitioning them from a problem to be worked on to a task to be maintained.
    2. Don’t attempt to fix a problem before rolling out the solution: if you allow things to be done incorrectly while you try to fix old mistakes, you will never catch up. Identify the fix before working retroactively and put the new process in place for any work moving forward. This will allow you to simultaneously fix the root of the problem while getting the new procedure in place.
    3. Create teams: the people responsible for implementing the new procedure going forward should not also be tasked with cleaning up the past. Assign a small team whose purpose is to work through all past errors, and another team to implement and train people on the new procedure. This keeps the company progressing.
    4. Utilize Technology: a centralized server or document management solution such as SharePoint will make this infinitely easier to manage moving forward. Get all your documentation finalized and loaded, so that it can be referenced by everyone in the organization. This reduces duplicate work and maintains a single version of every document.
    5. Revise your onboarding process: don’t let bad habits start with new employees, instead train them on the right procedures from the start.
    6. Provide refresher or training sessions: for larger, more complex procedures create a schedule for rolling them out across your entire organization, then move onto the smaller issues. Once you’ve cleared up the large items, the smaller ones will be easier to manage.
    7. Define Success: This isn’t the type of task that ever truly ends so it’s important to define success for your organization upfront. Identify what you need to do and set a goal for clearing the backlog. Isolate the clean-up work, focus on doing it properly from this moment forward and ensure you don’t recreate the mess while you’re working to fix it. Recognize when you’ve reached a maintenance level and count your success.

Following the steps above will help you work through operational challenges in a pragmatic and systematic way. This process is like any other project and to be successful, you must plan and work through it in an effective way. The tasks may seem daunting at the start, but as you move through the process your business will experience positive change and you will eventually move from a place of labor to a place of maintenance.

If you haven’t read through the Effects of Disorganized Policies and Procedures, I recommend you go back and think about what happens if you don’t put a plan in place to get your company organized.

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