We now have a Staff Procedure Manual to cover the commonest things that we need to do. Our aim is going to be to combined advanced technology with being well-organised both on and off the computer. Much of the SPM consists of checklists and crib sheets, and much of it was produced on a spreadsheet, as one might expect from an accountant. We will add to or amend the SPM as we become aware of our own underperformance, the infelicities of other accountants, or Revenue and Companies House handouts.
The commonest error must surely be overlooking the need to register for VAT when turnover has exceeded the threshold. We have a standard checklist for this to be completed on every job which means that we have never done this ourselves. In addition, we will be reading the VAT chapters in the latest tax textbooks every September, and in September we will put a warning notice on file where turnover exceeds 75% of the threshold, which is based on a real case (Mark Mills-Henning).
There’s a procedure for getting Professional Clearance when we take over a client from another accountant. First we send them a letter. If there is not a timely reply, then we look them up on the Internet to see if there might be a reason. We can then e-mail them with a copy of our letter attached as a PDF. This is followed up with a telephone call. After this, we will produce a fax message and post it to them, hoping that it ends up opened on the right desk. After this we either complain to the relevant professional body or give up. Generally we don’t get past the e-mail stage.
If a procedure is not yet in the SPM, then there is a crib sheet which tells us to go slowly and carefully, keeping notes. Do online work outside normal working hours and print off, date and initial computer screens as we go. Back up frequently. Then produce the checklist based upon experience.