Our company recently underwent a company-wide process revamp: we examined all our processes, revised the content, and standardized the formatting since it was not consistent across departments. This project underlined the importance of setting up processes to be as clean and organized as possible with proper categorization and structuring. This deliberate configuring helps the user focus on the language itself and not be distracted by discrepancies in the arrangement of the processes.
We have processes for every department within our company. Some departments, like Finance, have more processes than others based on the nature of the work. For more on how we use processes at Celaque, our firm, please refer to my blog posts on processes: The Benefits of Implementing Processes in Your Business, How to Improve and Grow Your Business with Effective Processes, and 6 Useful Ideas to Make Your Processes More Streamlined.
Our configuration guidelines for processes include not only how the content itself is presented but how the processes are categorized. Another important element is how the dates are managed so that the timing between different team members is staggered and a person’s schedule isn’t overbooked on any given day or week.
Each process has a header which classifies it according to department and process. The objective of this categorization is to make each procedure identifiable simply from its header. A header has the following components:
Department: The first letter is the initial for the department in the company. We are organized by departments at Celaque. For example, if the process is designed for Finance, the task would start with an F.
Macro Process: There are overarching processes in each department. Each of these is further sub-classified based on macro process. For instance, Fiscal Preparation in the Finance department is identified as TX.
Frequency: The next part of the classification is how often the procedure recurs, whether it is on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. We can identify the frequency based on the next digit in the sequence: 1 is daily, 2 is weekly, 3 is twice a month, 4 is monthly, 5 is quarterly, and so on.
Level: At Celaque we have three levels of review for certain critical processes. The first level performs the task, the second does a detailed review, and in the final step the person performs an overall review based mostly on metrics or reports. For more on how we use three levels of review, please refer to Get the Best Result Every Time with Multiple Levels of Review. Therefore, we use 1 for the first level, 2 for the second, and 3 for the third.
Title: We add a description that summarizes the procedure so that it is clear to the user from the header alone.
Dates: Finally, the system automatically assigns the date the task is generated as well as the expected completion date. At Celaque, the system we use is Wrike (6 Reasons You Will Love Wrike Like We Do).
An example of the final sequence of the procedure described above would be F-TX-4-1 Monthly Tax Review 10-05-19.
We standardized the formatting we use for all processes to make them as uniform as possible. Using the guidelines we developed for the team, we will ensure the standards are maintained in the future:
List formats: We use the same list format for all the tasks we program. The order is 1., a., -.
Documents: Sometimes the process states that a document should be reviewed. Therefore, when we refer to documents, we use the same wording, e.g., Review “Availability” from NetSuite (the system from which we pull the document).
Spacing: There are no extra spaces between words or after sentences, and a space should only be used after a section that is separated by titles.
Titles: Some of our processes need to be separated into different subsections. For instance, in an accounting close process, there might be a section on Bank Reconciliations and another on Financial Statements. Each of these segments is headed by a title, which is underlined. We found a wide discrepancy in the structuring of sections across departments: some titles were bold, others had no formatting, and some sections were just lumped together. This new structure helps the user quickly understand and recognize the flow of the process.
When we program, we make sure that dates for review are staggered between levels. For instance, the first person to work on the task will have a day to complete it. The next reviewer will perform their task on the next day. Finally, the team member who does the overarching review will do it the following day. The procedures are reflected on the different dates.
We also make sure that the tasks aren’t all lumped together so that they fall in the same timeframe. For weekly tasks, we design them so that they are spaced out evenly and appropriately throughout the week. Sometimes, grouping more than one process is unavoidable, as in the case of monthly closes. Most monthly close tasks are scheduled inevitably at the end of the month. We try to reduce the workload by spacing out some of the actions: if tasks can be done before the end of the month, we move it so that the first few days of the month will be less burdened.
The motivation behind this process revamp is to give our internal users a more user-friendly product with a cleaner design and easier searchability. Additionally, it will be easier to maintain a company-wide process catalog and analyze the functionality of our system.