Every business should have systems in place and procedure manuals to follow. Without these you are really flying blind and efficiency will be at a minimum. In a conveyancing/legal practice this could be very expensive in both time and money and of course time is money to any business in a service industry.
The following areas are something that I find assist with my business:
Templates & Workflows
Regardless of whether you have a computer program that does document management and has a diary system, you still will be responsible for setting these programs up in the first place. This can take quite a bit of time but essentially if you take the time to get your main templates in place in the beginning, then your business will be efficient from day one. After that all other templates can be set up as required.
The same applies to workflows. These can be of tremendous assistance if setting timeframes for processes to be completed by. They also ensure things do not get missed.
These are essential as well as they tie in with the workflows. In our office checklists are a very important tool as we have more part time staff than full time staff. The checklist is an ideal way of tracking what has been done on the file as anyone can pick up a file and know what stage it’s at, then assist with any queries in order to complete the transaction.
A simple paper checklist attached to each file, with a tick and date against each task, is a powerful risk-management tool. A comprehensive checklist for each type of conveyancing transaction reduces the chance of errors and lapses. To make the checklists user-friendly, I suggest dividing them into stages.
Procedures and Policies
These are also essential for any office/business as without them you really have to reinvent the wheel every time you employ a new staff member. With a procedure manual in place staff can follow the instructions with less assistance from other staff.
Training of course is still part of any good management and ensuring that staff are trained to the standards required is another important factor in running a successful business. However, a procedure manual needs to be updated constantly as we are in an everchanging technical world and the conveyancing industry is no exception to this. Implementing new procedures and up to date systems is a vital component of any business.
It sounds like a big time investment, and it is, but I believe it’s a worthwhile process that contributes to effective risk management. To begin the process of documenting procedures and processes, I recommend avoiding the big picture and taking a “one step at a time” approach.
In my office I audit files regularly to ensure procedures are being followed and this also minimises mistakes being made. This is ideal for risk management and it keeps everyone aware that quality is more important than quantity, which is what I have based my business model on.
As a growing business I want to be up to date with all new policies and procedures required for my industry. I setup new processes and templates as early as possible and have regular staff meetings to ensure that they are up to date as well with what is required in our office. I also want input from my staff as to what they think would work best.
One of my staff commented that I was the first employer she had known that implements new ideas provided by staff immediately. My philosophy is if it is a good idea then ”let’s do it” . This has created a great morale in the office as everyone is eager and comfortable with having their say, as they actually get listened to.
To me Systems and Procedures are a living thing that grow and change as time goes by! While they require a substantial initial effort and ongoing maintenance, the efficiencies provide a great return on that investment.