Documentation

What is a Desktop Procedure & How to Create Them

Learn about what desktop procedures are and how important they are to your business. Then get a step-by-step guide on how to create them — fast.

Introduction

When it comes to corporate finance and accounting best practices, there’s a lot to consider — hiring and retaining top staff, accurately reporting financial transactions, defining (and sticking with) a budget, evaluating data, and ultimately, applying those statistics to drive company success.

Establishing and maintaining strong accounting policies and practices for your company requires an investment of time and attention. There is no “one size fits all” and establishing accounting policies and procedures manual should be adapted depending on the size of the organization, complexity, staffing, and business strategy.

Read on to discover how you may apply desktop procedures to make your business more agile, flexible and smarter.

The purpose of accounting desktop procedures (DTPs)

DTP is a communication and training tool for the Finance and Accounting department. Financial transactions should be correctly processed and your accountants should grasp how the organization's accounting system operates by using this document.

A DTP should explain the accounting policies and processes that must be followed by accountants in order to create accurate and trustworthy financial statements.

Using desktop procedures, your finance and accounting departments will be able to improve their efficiency, share best practices and learn from one another.

Additionally, they'll fill in for employees who are absent due to vacation or illness, enhance the organization's internal audit needs and promote openness and accountability throughout the whole financial closing process.

The importance of desktop procedures

If your organization has a high staff turnover rate, it's critical that each role has a current desk procedure manual and that all workers have ample cross-training opportunities.

Anyone in the company can simply fill in for an employee who is absent from work for whatever reason (such as illness or vacation).

Detailed descriptions of what each person does should be included in a manual. For example, a payroll clerk would describe how s/he compiles the records of how many hours each employee worked. Employees are expected to document the procedures they took, including screenshots of the various screens in the payroll system that they used to enter the data.

It's not enough to have a printed copy or a digital copy of the guide. Employees should observe and pick up on their coworkers' mistakes. Observe the normal employee at work while following along in the desk manual for the person who is most likely to fill in for the person who drafted the document.

The "fill-in" employee is likely to ask questions and discover missing information, so the handbook may be updated. This will be followed by the "fill-in" employee doing the actual work, which will be observed by another employee.

That way, if anything is unclear, the desk manual may be revised or explained.

Don't miss out on new features! It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and put off updating manuals, but that's a mistake. Be sure to do document reviews at least once a year, or more frequently if process changes are made.

Employees are anxious to avoid making blunders and doing their jobs incorrectly. A desk procedures handbook is a valuable tool for ensuring that your staff is doing their duties accurately and effectively. Regardless of who is in charge, provide your clients with the high-quality goods and services they deserve.

The benefits of desktop procedures

DTPs provide a slew of advantages to your Finance and Accounting departments, regardless of whether you use a finance automation platform. Among them are:

  • The numerous key stages in your overall closing are all included in the standard, streamlined documentation templates.
  • Information on frequent manual procedures that might be marked for automation.
  • The ability to train and inspire your employees through cross-training
  • Out-of-office coverage for accountants (such as vacations, sick days, or maternity leave)
  • Auditor-required rules and processes are well documented (such as reserve policies or procedures for account reconciliations)
  • Allowing employees to focus on their tasks instead of sifting through regulations and documentation and attempting to explain them.

Create or update your vendor maintenance desktop procedures

Rather than becoming "technical" about the differences between documenting processes (work instructions) and documenting inputs and how they convert to outputs (procedures), for the sake of this blog post, let's define AP Vendor Maintenance Desktop Procedures as:

Based on the Accounting System/ERP, documenting the actions required to approve requests and forms for vendor additions/changes, as well as executing activities for the maintenance of the Vendor Master File.

Here are some guidelines for creating new or updating existing desktop procedures for vendor maintenance:

1. Plan how many desktop procedures you require. It might be organized by function and/or accounting system/ERP, for example. Recommendations for each Accounting System/ERP to ensure that you address onboarding, updating, and deactivation should you stop doing business with the vendor.

  • Add a New Vendor.
  • Foreign/non-US Vendor Added.
  • Changes to Existing Vendors.
  • Change of Existing Vendor – Foreign/Non-US.
  • Review of Vendor Master Files – Inactivation (Inactive and Dup Vendors).

2. Do you have any third-party validation sites? Integrate validation stages into the desktop routines that execute the validation. This reduces the number of desktop procedures, allowing you and your team to execute vendor requests without having to consult different documentation.

3. Include a hyperlinked Table of Contents. Create a table of contents within the paper that links to the subject, as these documents can grow rather long. If you use Word's Headings, for example, you can quickly build a table of contents and edit it as needed.

4. Include a Process Map. From the beginning (receiving documents) to the conclusion (updating in Accounting System/ERP), this will display the full process covered in the desktop method.

5. Include the security roles and accesses that are needed to complete the job. Is it necessary for them to have access to a certain position in your accounting system/ERP? Do they require access to the Share Drive's Vendor Maintenance Folder? Is it necessary for them to have a software license or a website sign-in to execute vendor validations? The desktop procedure may serve as a one-stop-shop for onboarding new team members.

6. Include an email authentication section. The first step should be to verify that the documents' source, which is almost always an email, is legitimate.  

7. Assign the task of creating and reviewing for changes to a team member. Assign one or more team members to not only develop, but also update when changes occur and at preset intervals throughout the year, depending on the size of your team or firm. On a monthly or quarterly basis.

8. Include a section on how to review the documents that are required. Take a snapshot and describe each section of the document in detail. What to check for to verify that it is performed correctly.  

9. Processes should be adequately documented. Include screenshots (redact any confidential information) of the Accounting System/ERP, website, and every stage of the procedure to make it easy to follow.

10. Management approval is required. Before the process is implemented, management must approve to ensure that they are not only aware of any changes made to the current process, but also that they have considered any downstream effects, related compliance changes, and so on, or take compensatory actions if it is already too late to reverse the change (IT changed what?).

11. Include a section for version control. Keep track of what adjustments were made and when management gave its approval. The easiest way to do this is by taking advantage of various automation tools that monitor and track your work.

Transform your team with Scribe's faster, better procedures

A one-man accounting show or the hiring of untrained personnel to monitor the company's finances are the worst things you can do for your business. The accounting function is one of the most crucial in a business, and depending on the nature and size of your company, in-house or staffing choices may not be the best option for jobs that require efficient on-time delivery or minimum influence on the organization's operations.

Formal onboarding programs address the fundamentals, but often lack the depth that workers require to swiftly grasp day-to-day duties. New recruits are left in limbo, and more experienced colleagues bear the task of teaching them the ropes.

There comes a point in every company's life when they require help from a third party to handle normal accounting responsibilities.

This is where Scribe comes into play.

Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that turns even the most complex process into a visual document. In seconds you can develop SOPs, outline runbooks and build work instructions. With Scribes newest feature, Pages, you can combine guides into a larger process doc, with text, media and more. It's never been easier to create, edit and share procedures and other process documentation.

Speed up the onboarding process for new hires while also decreasing distractions for long-term staff. Scribe improves your entire employee life cycle with high-quality step-by-step materials.

Sign up today for free to learn how to better position your company for success!

Desktop Procedures