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Business Tips – Company Operations Manual

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Every company should have an Operations Manual.  Okay, this is so important that I am going to have to say it again – irrespective of whether you have one employee, or one hundred employees or one hundred thousand employees – every company should have an Operations Manual.

An Operations Manual is the “how to” guide.  It is a ‘living’ document that evidences and outlines every process in your business and it should have various sections (as outlined below).  It should be checked and reviewed at the very least, annually to ensure that it is up to date and in line with legislation.  Obviously, the size of the business will determine how big or long the manual is and obviously depending on the sector that the company is in, there may or may not be sections that are applicable.  For example, if you are in a services type industry (say a financial advisor), you may not have any stock and therefore would not have any need for stock control.  Remember always to try and keep it as simple as possible.

The sections that you may require are (but not limited to):-

1.    Introduction
a.    This should include a brief history of the company – how and why it was started and also the purpose of the manual.
b.    The company’s business objectives and mission/vision statement should be included here.
c.    A list of the products and/or services provided should be featured here.

2.    Organogram
a.    Once you get to 3 or 4 departments, this should be split into two.  The first one should show just the departments and where they report into.  For example HR should report into Operations, Accounts into the Financial Director and so on.  The second organogram should include the names of the individuals who head up the departments as well as the name of the individuals that report into them – so in this case Jane Doe and Joe Public who are clerks in the accounts department report into Suzie Stressed out who is the Accounts Manager and she reports into Philip Pedantic who is the Financial Director and so on.
b.    The function of each department should also be outlined as well as which department supports which activity and so on.
c.    The job descriptions for each particular job (not person) should be filed here too. For example Jane may be the receptionist as well as a debtors clerk and the warehouse data capturer.  This of course means that Jane should have 3 different job descriptions.
d.    Don’t forget to include the details of the company, such as (but not limited to) address of branch offices and contact details for key personnel.

3.    General Information
This section would be the general type information for the staff and would include things like, but not limited to:-
a.    General attitude towards clients, suppliers, colleagues and management.
b.    How to deal with customer/supplier/colleague/management  queries, complaints or visitors
c.    Housekeeping – such as personal hygiene and dress code
d.    Do’s and don’ts.  Examples of this is “do be at work 15 minutes before you are due to start working” or “don’t partake of illegal substances and/or alcohol whilst on duty” and so on.

4.    HR and Administration thereof
This section is self explanatory and would deal with some of the below mentioned sub sections:
a.    Hiring practices – who authorizes new employees, what are the job spec requirements, what the interview process is, what forms/templates need to be completed including SARS, Department of Labour, Workmen’s Compensation etc.  Legislation registration requirements etc.  Letters/contracts of employment to be issued etc.
b.    When and how employees are paid, including full time or permanent employees and/or casual (one day) employees.
c.    Frequency of salary reviews and/or bonus requirements as well as advancement opportunities.
d.    Benefits paid by the company (if any), staff contributions and payroll deductions. These also need to be carefully explained so that  the staff understand them properly.
e.    Disciplinary policy and procedures, including letters of warning and/or notice to attend a disciplinary and/or letter of reprimand and don’t forget the Certificate of Service.
f.    Hours of Operation including Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Family Responsibility Leave, Unpaid Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave and Study Leave – where applicable.
g.    Attendance requirements as well as overtime and holidays and remuneration pertaining to these issues.
h.    Labour Laws –  Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Labour Relations Act and “Best Practices”
i.    Any other policies and procedures such as (but not limited to) Smoking requirements, Sexual Harassment or Alcohol and Substance Abuse etc.,

5.    Products and Services
This section is also self explanatory but should include:-
a.    Your sales procedure and credit authorization requirements.
b.    Customer relations and complaints process.

6.    Operational Procedures
These should include a departmental flow chart and authorization process for each department and for each process.  It would also include  detailed ‘step-by-step’ procedures such as ‘once the sale has been completed and signed the order goes to administration where it is checked and data captured and then  to the warehouse for the goods to be ‘picked and packed’ then the stock goes to dispatch where the stock is released to the driver and the invoice is produced and then…’ etc.  A copy of each document and/or template used should be included with the procedure.

7.    Administration
This should include the following (but not be limited to):-
a.    Departmental administrative procedures and authorization requirements that would also indicate responsibility and accountability.
b.    Templates for each requirement, for example Petty Cash Reconciliation.
c.    Procedures on how to complete each template and the purpose of such document.
d.    The document flowchart as well as due dates and deadlines.

8.    Safety and Security
This would include (but not be limited to) safety issues around the premises, the personnel, company assets and information so issues around:-
a.    Safety of the premises (in-house or outsourced), security cards/access cards etc. Access to safes and/or restricted areas
b.    Safety of the staff, compliance with OHSA (Occupational Health & Safety Act), including safety gear etc.
c.    Managing the importance of the safety of the employee as well as the company.
d.    Protection of company assets and the requirements around that
e.    Safety around company confidential information as well as client information etc.
f.    Key and password control.
g.    Incident reports

9.    Emergencies
a.    How to deal with accidents, staff, visitor and client accidents as well as company vehicle accidents.
b.    What to do in case of fire or theft or hold ups or car jacking and all the telephone details that pertain to these.
c.    What to do in case of power failure or burst water pipes, or gas leaks.
d.    Incident reports

10.    Maintenance & Repairs
Procurement policies pertaining to these service providers as well as their contact details.
a.    Procedures pertaining to authorization of these service providers as well as authorization for the repair.
b.    Authorization and control of after hour access to premises
c.    Key controls
d.    Refuse removal
e.    Handling of equipment
f.    Procedures around damage and/or loss to property and/or premises
g.    Incident reports.
11.    Legal
a.    Legislation around local and national requirements and rules and regulations that are industry specific.
b.    The ‘how to’ and ‘who with’ handling of regulatory agencies and/or municipalities.
c.    Inspections that have taken place and the reports that were issued.
d.    Record keeping requirements.
e.    Maintaining of ethical standards
f.    Green and carbon footprint issues.

Quite a lengthy but comprehensive list, I am sure that you will agree – but a very necessary one at the end of the day.  This will evidence that you have a policy of full transparency and that you have nothing to hide.

Your employees will also have an understanding of what is and what isn’t acceptable and also know what the consequences of their actions will be.

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