Office systems is a network of procedures which are designed to carry out a particular office work.
Office routines or procedures are thus a series of steps to be taken for doing a particular work in the office as per the office systems.
They are also called procedure manuals. They contain the details of the work (that is, the office systems and procedures) to be done in the office and other particulars of the organization which include:
- A brief history of the organization
- Aims and objectives of the organization
- Addresses of all branches and associated organizations
- Telephone numbers of head offices and all branches
- Internal telephone directory
- A list of the important offices, their positions, locations, extension numbers
- Office rules and regulations
- Any facilities available to staff
- Office hours, holidays etc
- The more important office procedures especially those relating to personnel affairs
NB: An office manual may be in book form but it is better in loose-leaf form so that updating sheets for changes in existing procedures or the addition of new procedures may be inserted easily. Another advantage of the loose-leaf form is that the manual can be devised in such a way that only relevant sections are issued to staff, the complete record being kept by management only.
Having a written manual of procedures has the following advantages or Importance of Office Procedures or Purpose of Office Manuals
- To make instructions definite. It eliminates the need for constant repetition of instructions which saves time as matters are disposed of without reference to the higher levels of the organization.
- There is uniformity in the implementation of procedures which gives a fair deal to every employee in the organization.
- Responsibility for performing duties is fixed as each employee is held responsible for them in the manner in which instructions are carried out as they are written.
- They aid in employee training both new and old employees. Act as refresher courses to old employees.
- They can be used as a basis of improving existing procedures of doing work.
- Supervision of work is made easy.
- Doubts can be referred to the written procedures to get the necessary information.
Disadvantages of Office Manuals
- Office manuals can be expensive to prepare as they take management time.
- It is difficult to keep a manual up-to-date.
- They may introduce inflexibility in the manner of work performance.
- If operations and procedures are not kept up-to-date it will be disregarded and the position will be more chaotic than if there were no manual.
Factors to consider when establishing a procedure
The manager has to establish:
- Details of how any particular job must be handled, for example, details of procedure followed for the purchase of goods.
- Documents to be used for any particular job, for example, for the purchase of goods, documents used may consist of requisition slip, quotation, purchase orders, delivery note, goods received note etc.
- Specimen copies of documents used in the organization
- Control or check system used for each procedure. It means who should authorize, for example, the issue of purchase order may be authorized by Purchasing Manager.
- State three reasons for providing employees with office manuals. (3 marks)
- Outline four rules for drawing up office procedures. (8 marks)
- Outline four advantages of having documented office procedures. (8 marks)