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on 19 May 2017 7:47 PM
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Beyond the usual financial audits, the end of the year is a great time to review your operations and processes – and shed the inefficiencies that could hold you back from achieving your goals in 2015.

Here are five things (besides the obvious review of your business plan) you should consider doing before January rolls around 

#1 – Review Your Service Contracts

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t the motto to operate by when it comes to your service contracts. Your needs have likely changed since you first signed some of your contracts, and you could be wasting unnecessary time and money by sticking with a provider that you’ve outgrown.

Make a list of all your service providers – including utility and equipment rental companies, printers, professional service and software providers, and any others you use regularly. Consider how they’re priced, the value you get for the money, and their level of customer service.

Prioritize the services that are most critical to running your organization, and invite proposals and quotes from competing companies. Even if you ultimately stick with your current provider, doing the research may give you the leverage to negotiate lower prices or more favorable terms.

#2 – Evaluate Your Internal Processes

While you’re refining your business plan for next year, make it a point to review your day-to-day processes to determine how well they support your strategies. You can do this internally, or consider hiring a consultant to perform the assessment for you.

Ask staff and committee members to document the processes they use to fulfill their responsibilities. Brainstorm with your team to identify inefficiencies and come up with ways to improve. As you go through the process, don’t forget to research new technologies that can help you save on time and resources.

#3 – Update Your Policy Manual

If you don’t already have a policy manual, create one. If you have one, review it. Your policy manual is your blueprint for your internal operations – yet it’s an often-neglected document, particularly in smaller associations.  It covers everything from human resources … to attendance and dress codes … to facilities management issues.

It’s important to review your policies every year to make sure they continue to meet changing employment and business laws. You’ll also want to check that they still align with your current practices and procedures.

#4 – Do a Marketing Audit

Using outdated marketing materials can reflect poorly on your organization – whether it’s letterhead with your old phone number or address on it, membership welcome packs that still mention old services, or a website that lists Board members who retired last year. Sometimes these details slip through the cracks, so gather all the collateral you currently use and go through it with a fine-tooth comb.

Ditch any materials that have information, messages, graphics, or branding that no longer reflect your organization’s direction, and put a plan in place setting out how and when you will update each piece with specific dates for completion.

#5 – Say Thank You

Recognize and thank staff , volunteers, members, committees, sponsors, and anyone else who had a part in your organization during the year. Convey your appreciation through cards, events, gifts, or just a special note in your newsletter if your budget is slim. “Feel-good” gestures will have everyone heading into the new year feeling appreciated and engaged with your organization.