Improved Nonprofit Performance Through Process Roadmaps
Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over. Have you ever started a project or task and thought to yourself, “I’ve done this before, but I can’t remember how I did it?” Perhaps you had to perform the task last year, or a similar task last month. You are not alone if you can’t remember how you did it. Unless you documented how you completed the task in a step-by-step fashion, it’s unlikely you will remember how you completed the task. You may drive yourself insane by wasting time doing the same task over and over, reinventing it each time.
Many nonprofits fall into this trap simply because they are under-staffed. Their current staff is busy completing their assigned task lists, thinking ahead to next month, serving constituents, and doing all of the myriad tasks it takes to keep a healthy nonprofit organization humming along. It can be difficult to carve out time to draft a process roadmap, and still even more difficult to develop a plan to store such roadmaps and transmit them to others during the employee onboarding process. Still, without such roadmaps in place, valuable time is wasted. Nonprofit financial management can improve operational efficiencies by creating a process roadmap.
What Is a Process Roadmap?
Roadmaps are going the way of the telephone book, but they still provide a good analogy for documents around the office. A process roadmap maps out the path from start to finish that you take in order to complete a task. It includes vital information such as who performs which task in the process, what resources may be needed, and when the task should be completed.
Such a document need not be lengthy or cumbersome. In fact, the simpler and easier it is to read and understand, the better. Some companies require process documents to be one page or less to ensure they are as simple as can be.
Once a process is documented, it can then be replicated by anyone in the organization or delegated to someone outside of the organization. It is a great time saver after the initial time is invested into creating the document.
Uses of Process Maps for Nonprofit Financial Management
Let’s take a look at two common tasks nonprofits face and how process roadmaps can help:
- Annual charity event: Many nonprofits hold annual fund-raising events such as golf tournaments, sales, open houses, and the like. These events are frequently process-driven and require that multiple people pitch in and ready things for the date of the event. The date is usually set far in advance, so that a timeline can be easily mapped out from the event date back to the first tasks in the process, such as securing the venue. When a process map is in place for an annual event, it can be delegated to multiple staff members, volunteers, or outsourced partners.
- Audits: An annual financial audit is another event that can be transformed with a basic process in place and mapped out. You know when the audit will take place, and which documents must be gathered for the auditors. Specific resources may need to be earmarked for the auditing process, such as conference rooms reserved, personnel available, files organized and so on. Once a process is mapped and in place, the audit can go smoothly each year if the process is followed.
Organizing Your Processes
The most efficient way to organize processes is to create a template. The template can include:
- Name of the process
- Date when the draft was created
- A brief explanation of the process
- Goals and outcomes
- Timeline and deadlines
- Materials or other things needed
- Step by step instructions, tagged with the role assigned to each step.
- List of resources
A shared network drive or cloud-based system such as Google Docs, free to use with a standard (and free) Google account, makes it easy to organize all of your processes and provide access to staff at any given time.
Lastly, be sure to include some basic training once the processes are in place. A process can only be used if it’s efficient and if people are aware it exists. Training familiarizes everyone with the steps in the process and provides a valuable opportunity for feedback to adjust the process.
A process roadmap can save you a great deal of time and effort. By mapping out your most important projects and events you will never have that insane feeling of doing the same task over and over again. You can share your knowledge with new employees or volunteers who may need to complete the same task at a later time. It’s a fantastic tool for organizational efficiency.
Contact RBP Methods for Your Nonprofit Financial Needs
Contact us here at RBP Methods to let us know what your needs are and to find out how we can assist you in meeting those needs using nonprofit financial management software offerings.