Even if you don’t have staff working for you just yet (chances are that at some point you will have), it is a good idea to write down how you do things or how you want things done. This will also assist you in doing the admin in the same manner every day, every week and so on. Then when you do hire staff, the manner you want things done will be documented and there can be no misunderstanding on how things must be done. A good way to do this is to write down firstly, what you do every day, (for example – banking) every week (for example bank reconciliations), every month (testing of alarm) and so on. This will give you a good checklist that can be signed off as and when you perform the tasks and ensures that nothing gets left off or left behind, so to speak. Once you have established the tasks that need to be done on a regular basis, it is much easier to then put together a documented procedure on how you want the tasks to be done. Remember to keep it simple and in a logical or chronological order of events.
Once this has been done, you now have a written procedure – the next step is to implement it. This may seem like stating the obvious, but how many manuals have we all got and how often do we actually use them. Think about the manual that comes with the cell phone – how many of us only use a tiny percentage of the capabilities of our cell phones because we don’t ever look at the book and read about all the things that the phone is actually capable of doing.
As a precaution, it may be a good idea to get your Accountant to look over your procedures, just to make sure that you are doing everything that you should be doing, at the very least.
If you are the sole owner and staff member of the company, then you have no problems, but if you have a partner or staff, it is a good idea that your partner be aware of what needs to be done and how – and that your staff know exactly what they have to do and how.
This is very important: particularly in the instances where you have staff. Once they have gone through the document several times and you are confidant, that they know what it is that they are required to do, there can be no mistake about what is required of them and how they are to perform the various tasks. This step safe guards you and the staff member – both of you are protected from each other! It may be a good idea to get the staff to write a simple test to ensure that they do indeed understand what it is that they are doing, vs. what they are supposed to be doing. The results of these tests can be kept in the staff files to evidence that they knew what they were supposed to be doing if ever, disciplinary action needs to be taken in the advent of non compliance to laid down procedures.
Okay so now you have the procedure - it is implemented and the staff member knows exactly what he/she is supposed to do. Human nature being what it is dictates that humans get lazy, or complacent, or just plain bull headed. So lets say that the PAYE, UIF and SDL monies are not paid over to SARS on time, just because the staff member didn’t feel like doing any work on the 7th of the new month – the reality of the situation is that you are going to pay penalties and interest on a late payment, through no fault of your own. That is your consequence, what is the consequence, if any for your staff member? Are you merely going to accept that you now have to pay additional money over to SARS or does the staff member also have a consequence? That is a decision that you have to make. It is therefore very important that each process or the procedure for each task, carries a consequence if that task is not performed correctly or timeously. Understand though, that the punishment must fit the crime – you cannot dismiss someone, nor should you, for not filing a piece of paper on time. The staff also needs to be made aware of the consequences of their actions or inactions as the case may well be.
Understand too, that if you have more than one staff member, you cannot discipline the one for not doing the filing properly and then not discipline another for the same action. Be careful when you don’t discipline for a misdemeanour as you may be setting a precedent, and once set they are extremely difficult to unset. You have to be seen as being fair and just and you have to be consistent.