How to Document Procedures in Your Bank or Credit Union (5 Steps)
Whether you are acquiring other banks/credit unions or opening new branches and hiring more people, you need to be able to ensure consistent service and compliance across your organization.
Getting everyone on the same page can be a daunting task. Sometimes companies are tempted to simply upload their training materials and white papers to a shared drive — but that is a mistake. You need to do more than just write the information down and hope employees will figure it out.
When departments do that, they end up with hundreds of random guides written in PowerPoint, Word, Excel, or OneNote that nobody can find (and nobody can use).
Don’t get me wrong — you do need to document your policies, processes, and procedures. You just need to do it in a way that makes it easy for your employees to find answers to their questions the moment they have those questions. And they need to be able to pull up and use your written procedures and follow the steps, in the moment they need to complete a task.
As the Head Consultant at ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company that helps you quickly and clearly document procedures — we use a 5-step strategy to help our clients begin documenting their procedures so that employees can quickly find them, AND use them, in the moment they need them.
By following these five steps, documenting your bank’s procedures becomes more manageable. Plus, you’ll have direction for what to do.
Step 1: Identify the moments that require employees to respond with an action
Before you can write policies and procedures, you need to know what you are writing about and why you are writing it.
So, how do you identify these moments that require an action?
Write down questions you and your employees are asking (and being asked). These questions could come from a customer, your employees, or a request from a manager. The key is they are questions that your employees will be dealing with on their jobs and will need support to take action.
Other moments that could use documented aids include something that’s part of a daily routine, something that requires compliance, or an alert from a system (e.g. ATM is out of cash).
Step 2: Identify the decisions and/or tasks that need to be completed as a response
Now that you know when your employees will need to take action, you can figure out what actions need to be taken for each of those moments.
For example, if you receive a warning that the ATM is low on cash, an action could be Check ATM cash balance or Refilling the ATM.
Every situation and transaction requires at least one decision and/or one task to resolve. Essentially, the moments are the questions and the decisions or tasks are the answers.
The decisions are your policies (e.g. ATM is out of cash — should I refill it?) and the tasks are the to-do lists when your employees encounter these scenarios (e.g. Refilling the ATM).
Other examples of tasks for responding to moments include reviewing a loan balance, opening a savings account, transferring funds, etc.
Step 3: Write simple, step-by-step procedures to perform those tasks
By listing the moments and the tasks/decisions associated with each moment, you now have a roadmap for your written documents. Interview experts to write step-by-step procedures so that your documented procedures lead your employees from start to finish of a procedure.
Don’t overthink this. It’s tempting to list out everything you know about loans or opening an account. But this is not a chance for you to do a knowledge dump.
Make these procedures as straightforward as you possibly can.
Think of a food recipe. A recipe tells you how many eggs to crack and how much flour to add. But it doesn’t go into how flour is ground wheat and how some people think it’s bad for you.
In your written procedures, just state the facts. Your employees only need the basics that will help them DO, not necessarily understand the background information behind everything they do.
Example: Refilling an ATM
- Open door
- Put ATM in maintenance mode
- Pull out cassette
- Fill cassette up with cash
- Replace cassette
- Program machine to update the cash amount that is now in it
If you have additional background information that goes along with a procedure, put that information in other learning assets (e.g. videos or other documents) and reference those in the procedure. If employees want to learn more, they can check those other learning assets out.
Create a new document for each specific task and save it to a cloud-based document library or knowledge base. This will make it easier for your employees to access, find, and use your procedures in the moment they need them.
For example, the task Refilling the ATM should be its own procedure, not part of a larger Word document that includes everything about ATMs. The title of the procedure should be the task: Refilling the ATM or How to Refill the ATM.
Step 4: Add visuals to show the procedure
Sometimes words aren’t enough. If the task your procedure is for is done on a computer, then a series of screenshots will do wonders to clearly explain a process and drastically reduce mistakes.
These screenshots explain a procedure by showing employees where to click, type, or find the next step on a screen.
You can leave out screenshots of steps that are routine/familiar or are necessary for every transaction (e.g. logging into the system).
Step 5: Link to related policies and procedures
Your procedures help your business apply its policies. Since your procedures are separate and serve a different purpose than your policies, you’ll want to link to your policies within your procedures.
If employees do want to learn more about the what and the why behind a procedure, they can easily learn more by clicking on the links to read a related article or watch a related policy video.
The result is that you may have hundreds of individual documents that answer very specific questions or walk through specific tasks. This is good.
By breaking procedures and policies out into individual documents, it is easier for you to update articles and it is easier for employees to find what they need via search.
How to start documenting your first procedure
Documenting your procedures for your bank or credit union can be intimidating. When you follow these five steps, it helps you prioritize your procedures and create a clear path for how to accomplish tasks.
If you’ve got thousands of procedures and policies (which is typical), then it might be time to upgrade to an online knowledge base that’s searchable. ScreenSteps is an employee enablement knowledge base for banks and credit unions that helps companies create, store, and share operational guides.
Using ScreenSteps’ robust content creation tools, you can quickly write procedures that are easy for your employees to find and follow. One client was able to create 4X the documents in ¼ of the time with ScreenSteps.
Don’t know what procedures to document first? Get started with Step 1 in documenting your procedures by writing down the moments your employees need aid. Download this free worksheet to help you track questions your employees have.