Articles & E-Books

 

Credit unions: Now is the time to review procedures

Aug 23, 2021

As a result of the pandemic, credit unions have been experiencing a lot of staffing changes, which often means a lot of processes end up being delegated, being changed or not happening at all.

Having documented procedures has never been more crucial. While it may feel arduous and even insignificant, they will save the credit unions a lot of time and headaches by avoiding mistakes.  

It may have been natural to push process documentation to the bottom of the list during the chaos of COVID-19, but credit unions cannot afford to leave them there. Now is the time to correct that.

And your first step is to start with the most critical and working your way through the entire list.    

There are two main categories of procedures: new and updated.

New procedures can feel overwhelming because you are starting from scratch and the details can be easily missed. It is best to have the individual who performs the procedure take the time to document it step by step.

But there is a risk is that since the process is so routine for them, critical steps will be left out. As a check, the procedures should be reviewed and tested by someone familiar with the process — perhaps someone who is involved in the process in a backup capacity.

Once it’s agreed that what’s been documented is accurate, the procedures should also be reviewed by a supervisor.

Why? It’s likely the procedures are now documented as to how the process is done rather than how the process should be done. The supervisor should review the procedures for not only accuracy but also proper internal controls. 

Updated procedures is typically an easier process, but the same level of care should be taken as for new procedures.

Your documentation should include enough detail that someone new stepping into the role can perform the steps as instructed.

If a supervisor is handling the documentation, it should be done with the help of the people responsible for that process. Some of the most common issues that arise during an audit are due to differences between what the supervisor thinks is being done and what is actually being done. 

Process documentation projects can also be a great opportunity for supervisors and employees to both identify potential changes that can increase efficiencies and/or enhance internal controls. It’s also a good opportunity to cross-train staff.

Credit unions should factor in periodic updates for changes in systems, personnel and locations should also trigger a review of procedures. In addition, you should schedule an annual review.  

Author(s)

Michael P. Moreau, CIA, CFE, CFSA
Manager
View Profile