How to Develop a Procedures Manual

One of the reasons many agencies do not have a written procedures manual is that it is a time-consuming and daunting task to complete. It need not be! 
There are two ways to get the job done:

  • Hire an outside consultant to come in and document your workflows and procedures, or
  • Do it yourself, using your staff as a primary resource for documenting current procedures.

Using Internal Staff to Develop a Procedures Manual

This is probably the best and fastest way to develop an agency procedures manual.

Step One:
“Divide and Conquer”

Assign one agency workflow process to a single person (or a small group) and ask that they take responsibility for documenting only that one process. (See Read This First for a list of the agency workflow processes included in this guide.)

When you do it this way, no one person is burdened with the entire project, since this will be yet another thing to do for an already overworked staff.

 

Step Two:
Get the Staff to “Buy In” to the Process

Emphasize the benefits to them. Streamlined workflows and procedures not only reduce or eliminate E&O claims, they also increase efficiency and productivity and free up time to do the things the employee prefers—selling and servicing accounts.

 

Step Three: 
Document Current Procedures

Using the sections of this guide (see Read This First), focus on each workflow (new business, renewals, endorsements, etc.) and document how the process is currently performed.

Procedures will differ for personal and commercial lines, so each process should be addressed for the different lines of business.

If your agency writes surety bonds, life and health, or other specialized lines, consider separate workflows for those as well. 
Prepare yourself for an educational experience. You will find that each person in your agency has their own way of doing things and this will become apparent as you document. That’s normal, although undesirable, and getting everyone to appreciate the exposure presented by this inconsistency is half the battle.

 

Step Four: 
Determine Best Procedures

After you have documented the way the work currently gets done, have a meeting and ask the group to decide the one best method that should be used in the future.

Eliminate unnecessary or redundant steps and remember the E&O concerns that are included in this guide.

 

Step Five: 
Validate the Procedures and Put it in Writing

When the new procedure is developed, have it validated by staff using real situations.
When everyone is in agreement that the new procedure is sound, write it down.

 

Step Six:
Implement the Procedures

Call a staff meeting to present the new procedures manual. Be sure to include agency owners, producers, CSRs and support personnel.
Discuss each section in detail.

Make it clear that this is the agency “Bible” and the that documented procedures must be followed until they are changed by management.

Have each person sign the following statement:
“I have read and understood the Agency Procedures Manual and agree to conduct my activities in accordance with the established procedures.”

Make it clear that any deviations from procedures should be anonymously reported to the Agency E&O Loss Control Manager. It’s OK not to name names. The goal is to remind the entire staff about proper procedures.

 

Step Seven:
Monitor Compliance

The Agency E&O Loss Control Manager should:

  • Respond to any anonymous reports of procedures deviations by sending an inner-office memo to all personnel reminding all of the correct procedure.
  • When an E&O claim or “near-miss” occurs, send an “E&O Alert” to all personnel, analyzing the event and pointing out the procedure that was not followed that resulted in the event. Discuss it at the next staff meeting.
 

Step Eight: 
Revise Procedures As Needed

The Agency Procedures Manual is not cast in stone. It should be revisited regularly as things change in the agency, or when it becomes clear the procedure is not working properly.