The What Manual?

Summer is moving fast here at Alabu. One of the things I’ve been doing lately is organizing. I’ve made it a specific goal to organize the company. Not that we were unorganized before, but I see a lot of room for improvement. I really see a lot of value in organization. It is so much less tiring to do something if you know exactly where everything is and if you know exactly how to do it.

Imagine you were on vacation and you wanted to get to the beach, but you didn’t have a map. Well if you are somewhere near the coast, I’m sure you could drive around and find the beach eventually, but wouldn’t a GPS be great? Just type in the address and it will give you step by step instructions to get you to the beach. Well I recently started this book called the Procedures Manual. I know, the name is extraordinarily geeky, and probably daunting for some, but it really is a fantastic tool. This book is like a GPS for all things Alabu.

For example, about once a month we receive raw materials. There are a few things that need to happen when we receive them. They have to be inventoried, we have to track how much we paid for them, and the receipt has to be filed, just to name a few. Well because this only happens once a month (sometimes less often), I would often forget all the details. I would usually figure it out after a while, and I’m sure everything got recorded, but now that I have the process written down in the manual, I don’t have to think about it. What a wonderful feeling! I just crack open the book and go through the steps. I don’t even have to think! This is the kind of thing I think really pays off in the long run. Because if I go on vacation and someone else is stuck receiving the raw materials, they can look it up to! I don’t even need to teach them. They just have to know enough to look in the manual.

So this book has been growing fast. I’ve recorded how to process orders, how to pack them, how to make production summaries and schedules, how to add new products, etc. This kind of organization takes quite a bit of time up front. I’ve put a lot of hours into writing down all these processes and steps, and I’ve followed some of our staff around documenting their every move, but in the long run you save time every time you use the same process over and over. In addition to that, you don’t have that nagging feeling of “Did I forget something?” or “Did I do that in the right order?”

Not only have I been writing all this documentation, but I also discovered a wonderful tool called Google Calendar. Let me tell you: This thing saves my life. One of the best features about it is the repetition feature. I can schedule something to repeat on almost any schedule: The first Tuesday of the month, every 6 months on the 4th day, every week on Monday and Friday… you get the idea.

This is a life saver for me because I have all kinds of things that come up on a regular basis. This thing reminds me when to order materials, update inventory, schedule production, prep for meetings, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The great thing is that I can have it remind me up to a week in advance, so I have time to prepare for big items.

Well, I should be getting back to work. I have some soap to make.

H.M.

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