Why Are Policies and Procedures Important?

Kontra agency office in Zagreb, Croatia

The importance of policies and procedures

Imagine starting a new company, a marketing agency, for example. You are the only employee, and you do all the work: you do marketing for your agency, you do sales, you do the work for your clients (Google Ads Management, Social Media, etc.), and you do all the paperwork. You know everything there is about your business.

Your business is growing, and it’s time to hire your first employee, a social media manager. You are still in charge of everything, but having someone to help you is nice. Word got out, and you have more clients. Now, you need more people to help you with the workload. You hire a performance marketing specialist, maybe one more social media manager, and a part-time designer. Now, you don’t spend 100% of your work time doing the job, but some percent of your job is managing others. It works well, but occasionally, you are not satisfied with some job your employees did. “That’s not how we do it,” you almost yell at them.

A duck and a programmer - not part of our policies

More and more people join, and you find yourself slowly detaching from your clients and the work your agency is doing for them. Now, it’s up to your employees to manage most of the work while you spend most of your time doing sales and managing your employees. But you see some cracking starting to show. An old client is calling you to complain about the results of the recent campaigns. You somehow notice an employee sends a Word document to your clients in a plain format, not using the memorandum you established a while ago. Another employee uses Canva to create a presentation for another client, while you have a PowerPoint template with your branding. Not to mention, not all the colors and fonts he/she uses are official. The third employee starts to name Meta or Google campaigns different from what you’re used to. And you start to feel anxious because you see things are going out of your hand. You need to focus on growing your business, but you check every email and every document sent to your clients because you don’t trust your people to do their job the way you used to. Your growth stalls as you spend less and less time on new business acquisitions. When you talk with your employees about that, they say, “I thought this would be fine.”

My dear company owner, what you experience is something almost all other company owners experience. Now is the time to start writing Policies and procedures for how business is done within your company. You need those Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to systemize everything you do.

I long thought policies and procedures were unnecessary because “people are not stupid; they know how the business is done.” The truth is, they are not stupid, but they have their way of doing things. For them, it is perfectly normal to use whatever they feel like using – from different fonts to colors to different naming of their ad campaigns. But you are the company owner, and you set the tone of how everything is done. They need to follow your guidance, not the other way around. A set of written documents is needed to avoid being asked about everything.

When to start writing policies and procedures?

As soon as possible. If I were starting Kontra today, I would start writing these documents from day one. Even if I were the only employee, I would write them for myself with my future employees in mind.

The format is not that important. The first policies and procedures in Kontra were written in Word, but today, we use a Microsoft Sharepoint site, so we have all our procedures in a website-like format.

Kontra agency office in Zagreb, Croatia

Which procedures should you write?

I will help you with a list of (almost) all our procedures at Kontra, with a short description of each. Of course, you don’t have to write all the same procedures; you can add your own. I don’t have the statistics, but if we converted all our procedures back to Word format, we would probably have 200-300 pages of documents. That’s a lot :-).

General procedures at Kontra

  • Welcome book:
    A short history about Kontra, our core values, and why we do what we do. Some short info about partners at the agency, some technical information about the company, and a list of all internal education we recorded throughout the years.
  • Work regulations:
    Mandatory document about all work regulations. We hired an external consultant to help us with this, as it is part of the work contract we sign with our employees.
  • Internal procedures:
    How we do some things internally: how to book vacation time, go on a business trip, what to do in case you are sick, and how to buy some online education.
  • Systematization of jobs:
    A really important document describes our company hierarchy and lists positions within Kontra. We list all the necessary skills for all positions (CEOs and community managers don’t need to have the same skills, but some skills are mandatory for each position), descriptions of tasks for each position, and responsibilities. Also, 9 seniority levels are listed with a description for each. All our employees have a position and a seniority level, determining their rights and obligations.
  • Working in the office:
    We work hybrid (some employees are full-time remote), but we still use the office 2-3 days a week. We have flexible work hours, but we also have something called “me time,” so we must explain all this. We also explain how to maintain a clean office, how to order food through our office manager, and which “perks” we provide in the office.
  • Working with clients:
    When we get a new client, what do we need to do? We must learn how to communicate with clients and meet with them, as well as our dress code. Also, when we start a new project, how to open everything in our project management tool Productive and communicate within the team. Deadlines, working hours, and invoice issuing are all there as well.
  • Security procedures:
    I won’t get into much detail here (as this could be a separate blog post), but we have instructions on how to secure our accounts as much as possible, how to use 2-factor authentication (2FA), and how to protect all our and our client’s passwords.
  • Opening accounts:
    In most cases, I am charged with opening all accounts for our new employees, but these are the instructions on how to do so in case I am unavailable.
  • How to use email:
    These include instructions on effectively managing email inbox, mostly based on my blog post Ultimate Guide to Email Productivity.
  • How to write for Kontra blog
    This is the document I’ve been using while writing this blog post. It contains all the instructions and policies on what is required when someone writes a blog post for the Kontra blog.
  • Tools and useful websites
    A simple list of 10-15 cool tools one can use.
  • Hiring
    How do we hire people, what’s the process, and how do we test potential candidates…
  • Paperwork
    A document mostly for our office manager – how to do everything regarding paperwork. How to issue invoices, how to manage cash flow sheets, how to manage our profitability report, and how to prepare documentation for our accountant.


A quiet agency office - a procedures help us with this

Marketing procedures

  • Marketing Plan
    This is a general marketing plan for our agency describing our growth strategy and marketing plan to help us achieve that growth.
  • How to work with a designer?
    A set of instructions written by our former graphic designer on how to work with a designer, from sending the brief to managing client expectations.
  • Grammar
    Some grammar rules.
  • Community manager onboarding
  • Community management procedures
    A document describes how we provide community management support and prepare client content plans. It also includes a set of rules for communicating when we attend conferences and the roles of an account manager and creative director.


Development procedures

We have around 25 documents with development procedures. There’s probably no point in listing them all here. Their main purpose is to manage complex projects (as development ones are).

Sales procedures

We have detailed procedures for all our sales activities. I won’t list them all here, but here are some you should probably have.

  • General
    This document explains our sales philosophy and all technical details of the sales process—how we open a deal in our CRM, communicate with potential clients (email templates, etc.), and close the deal.
  • Questionnaires
    Links to all the questionnaires we send to our potential clients to acquire the basic information we need to adapt the process and to be as productive as possible.
  • Pricing
    Prices for all our services.
  • Technical information
    We send our clients instructions when they come to our office for the first time, how we prepare for a meeting, and how to communicate after it.
  • Pitch process


How do all these procedures help us do our job?

I know our employees can’t remember all the procedures, but we ask them to know that we have procedures for certain things. For example, I don’t want an employee asking about how to book a vacation – I want him or her to know there is a vacation policy that says it all. That way, I don’t spend much time explaining something repeatedly; these procedures save me time.

Also, everyday work has fewer errors, as people tend to do the job the way we want them to if they follow our procedures.

If you don’t have any procedures, write the first one and add more later.

My primary goal when starting this process was a statistic I heard somewhere: 96% of company errors are due to a lack of procedures, and only 4% are human errors.