Modern document storage and management solutions make it almost effortless to save every written document your organization produces. So, why do many companies fail to document critical information? The short answer: backup made us lazy.
Automated backup to the cloud led to a dangerous assumption that some software program backs up every document your business needs.
You can't back up what you don't document, which often means your business is one key employee departure away from losing critical information. Documenting your business processes, performance, and work products is the first step toward effective business management.
In this post, we’ll outline the three types of business documents to generate regularly to ensure you have a record of every key area of your organization.
Most organizations do an excellent job of maintaining financial records because that's how they make sure they've been paid in full by clients and partners. The IRS and other regulatory bodies also help motivate businesses to keep their financial books in order.
Still, far too many companies have a cloudy view of their bottom line and how they got there. Make sure to generate and back up these key finance documents.
Even if you don't have a Chief Financial Officer, you'll want to regularly generate the trio of reports for which the Finance department is responsible. That way, you'll always have clear documentation of your business's cash position, assets, liabilities, and financial health.
The list includes:
- Balance Sheets
- Profit & Loss Statements
- Cash Flow Statements
In order to verify financial documentation, you'll need transaction records for all the money coming in and going out the door of your business.
- Receipts and Invoices
- Bank Records
- Investment Reports
As mentioned above, you'll be required by both law and regulation to file regular reports. You should retain these reports for reference for at least 10 years.
These regulatory items include:
The Operations department is where most companies are the least vigilant in documenting critical information. Operational documents outline how your business should be run. These records should cover both a tactical perspective -- processes and procedures used to perform day-to-day operations -- as well as strategic documentation to explain why your business operates the way it does.
With or without a Chief Operating Officer (COO), you'll want to generate a list of documents that includes:
- Business Plans
- Company Bylaws
- Employee Rosters and Org Chart
- Meeting Minutes
- Process Manuals
- Employee Training Materials
For the amount of money businesses spend generating advertising and promotional materials, they are often inexcusably lax in backing up those assets. Outside agencies or in-house talent are trusted to retain your marketing and advertising records, which puts companies in a bind if those groups or individuals leave.
Even if you retain the promotional assets -- logos, designs, videos, audio spots, interactive ads – created by your marketing team, you may lose the advertising and marketing metrics that measure the effectiveness of those assets. The latter is often more valuable than the former.
To ensure your promotional investment isn't wasted or held hostage, you and/or your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) must document and back up:
- Marketing & Advertising Plans
- Brand Manuals and Style Guides
- Campaign Reports
- Designs and Media Assets
- Process Manuals
- Press Releases and Earned Media "Clippings"
By ensuring you document the financial, operational, and promotional aspects of your company, you also ensure that no single employee departure can undermine the smooth operation of your business.
Are there any other documents such as these three that are critical to running a modern business? We’ll be back next week to share three more. Can’t wait? Download this guide today.
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