There are two ways to do this:
Combine these together, and you should have a powerful, virtually foolproof system.To create a system, write down your goal and objectives for every project (as a general guideline applied every time, if projects are all highly similar and repetitive; or by individual projects.)
1. Style Sheets—these are guidelines so that all your written material is delivered looking just the way you want it to look.
2. Client Questionnaires
3. Contractor Questionnaires
4. General Project Instruction sheets
5. Contact information – including who takes care of what problem type
6. A list of expectations and other data (e.g. rate of pay, wage increase intervals, vacation notice, etc.)
If you have a larger team that needs a manager, have one central contact person, whenever possible. Have him/her report directly to you at a specified time of day with all queries, problems or requests. Make sure that manager is enabled to speak for you in all but the most crucial situations.
You will want to designate a certain time each day, especially if you are working with someone who lives on the other side of the world. Your time to meet might be 9am or 8pm. For your VA, if you meet at 9am your time, it could be 9pm her time so you need to be understanding of her circumstances so that you don’t expect her to meet you when she would normally be asleep.
The key lesson here: The more you put down in writing, the less you risk errors in judgment or oversights being made.
Step Three: Protocols and Processes
Projects can typically go out of control when:
a) More than one person is involved;
b) There are “holes” in your specs (specifications) and instructions or parameters which leads to misunderstanding and confusion (i.e. specs are not precise);
c) Project progress and delivery are not anticipated and planned out meticulously;
d) A system is not followed.
Section 10: Your Virtual Team
Step 3: Protocols & Processes
Operating from standard protocols and processes can eliminate 95% of problems like scope creep, or the chain of delivery breaking down.
Next, take a blank sheet of paper for every position on your team. For example, if your virtual “team” consists only of you plus your new VA (Virtual Assistant), you can write this in a Word document or mind map the details. Write down all your responsibilities and tasks on one page and hers on another.If you have six team members, take six sheets of paper. And so on.
Write the details down, even if you think you know exactly what everyone has to do. You’ll be amazed to find yourself thinking of things to add, or things you need to re-think or adjust.
Now write a “Company Manual” based on these results– even if this is only a three-page document. Begin your Company Manual with a “mission statement”, saying what your company is all about and what it wants to do for its clientele. (This will help your contractors understand what your business is all about, so they can better represent it.)
Your Company Manual will include different items. You don’t need to include all the items below, but only the ones that are applicable to your situation.
The beauty of creating your own office manual is that you can tailor it to your unique set up. For example, you can segment your contractors by color (using different-colored paper) or by different sections in your “Master” binder, so that you instantly know that copywriters only get the pink forms plus all white ones, while web designers get the yellow and blue forms, and fulfillment staff gets all.