Right now, as many companies deal with remote work and resulting process changes, the clarity of your A/P policies becomes even more important.
If your staff’s like most, it’s been working to review and update some policies for the “new normal.” And as much as A/P should focus on the technical instructions, there’s another component that’s equally as important: how they’re written.
Fact is, your A/P staff knows how to get things done. The problem is often getting folks from other departments to understand and comply. But a well-written policy gives A/P a way to guide others through process changes, and it gives those folks a place to look when they have questions.
4 policy tips to share
You can pass along these four tips to your A/P staff to help them successfully write and publicize updated policies:
1. Give a heads-up. New policies aren’t always easy for the people they impact – like Procurement or invoice approvers – especially when the policies mean big changes. Have A/P soften the blow by notifying those people when changes are coming. That way, they’ll be ready to adapt, and A/P will have their full attention when ready to announce the policies.
2. Focus on clarity. Remind A/P to always start with the audience in mind. What kind of language should they use? Is jargon necessary – or even appropriate? Your staff should aim to write each line as simply as possible, so there’s little chance for confusion among readers. And encourage A/P to include examples to drive their messages home.
3. Have someone outside Finance review it. This would ideally be a few of the folks that the policies are directly impacting. The reason: If they’re part of the audience, they can help find areas of text that are still unclear.
4. Boil down the most important changes to one page. The longer a policy is, the less likely it’s going to be read with attention to detail. With that in mind, A/P can write a simple cover page that outlines the most important changes or rules and lists the page numbers within the policy that people can refer to for more info. The easier the policies are to read and access, the more people will engage and comply with them.
Need more information?
CFO Daily News is offering a free webinar, “Accounts Payable Policies and Procedures for a Remote Workforce,” available live or on demand at your convenience.
Some of the topics it covers include:
- how certain “e-tactics” for documentation can save you time and effort
- how to write a qualified accountable plan for employee expense reimbursement that meets IRS standards
- how to flowchart your processes using mind mapping software to create an easy flow for personnel outside of A/P, and
- how to get vendors to work within your policy requirements.
The speaker is Pamela Fagan-Shull, president of Audit Business Services Inc. and a certified member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American Payroll Association (APA).