A question we always ask our guest on the Paycheck to Passion podcast, is “if you were to travel back in time and tell your past self something that would help them, what would it be?” The answer 90% of the time is “chill out – it will all be OK” sometimes it is “don’t wait to get a coach”. My answer is a bit different. I would tell myself to start documenting my systems from day one and create a “field manual” for my business.
What is a field manual?
A field manual is basically an operations manual for your business. It is a document that lays out what you do in your business and how it is done. Theoretically, if something happened to you, they could pick up the manual and run the business. They wouldn’t be tweaking or improving, but they could get the basic day to day work done.
Why do you need a field manual?
The primary reason to create a field manual is to save yourself time. Instead of trying to figure out how to do the same task again and again, you can simply pull out your checklist and get it done. A good field manual will also make it easier for you to delegate since you already have written out the steps that need to be taken. Your training time will be cut in half with a good set of directions. You will get better results because your team won’t have to read your mind. Finally, having your procedures laid out in a checklist gives you something to improve upon. If you do a task a different way each time, there is no way to tweak it to make it work better.
Creating Your Field Manual
A field manual is simply a set of checklists for your business. Here are the steps for easily creating each process document:
- Record yourself doing the task using a screencasting tool. I like snagit for short screencasts.
- Watch the video and write down the steps. Pause during important steps and get a screenshot.
- Give the process to someone else to try using your instructions. This is really important – it helps you discover the steps that are missing.
- Revise the steps each time you do the task and see improvements or tweaks that can be made.
Have your Team Help
If you have a team, they can help you create procedures for your business. The person writing the initial procedure should always be the person who does the task on a regular basis.
- Have the team member responsible for the task create the checklist.
- The person doing the checklist should give it to another team member to review.
- Once the process is documented and checked, have the team members give you a draft to review.
Keeping the procedures fresh
Creating a field manual is not a “one and done” task. For it to be useful, it needs to be updated as you try more experiments and find out what works on your business. Put a date on your calendar to review the procedures quarterly. Also, each team member should be responsible for suggesting improvements to all processes.