Introduction to this document

Organisation chart

Accountants are often also line managers, leading a team of accounting staff. Your accounts department will be responsible for the timely and accurate processing of thousands of transactions, even in a small business. But whatever the size, an organisational structure will improve the running of the team.

Mapping out

In order to set out an organisational structure you’ll need to map out in detail all of the tasks undertaken by the accounts department. This will include daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly routines as well as the annual year-end and budgeting activities.

Step 1. Capture your analysis on paper, either in a Word table, Excel spreadsheet or mind map. At this stage of the process do not be tempted to assign staff names, simply lay out the tasks.

Step 2. Organise the tasks around natural headings such as sales ledger, purchase ledger, nominal ledger, staff expenses, cash, budgeting, tax and payroll. Be as detailed as possible with the tasks. For example, in staff expenses, you could have: “review expenses against policy”; “query expenses”; “code expenses”; “input expenses”; “file expenses”; and “maintain P11D”. Don’t forget the ad hoc tasks such as meeting with your bank manager.

Step 3. The next step is to decide for each task which of your accounting functions and individuals should be responsible for delivering the task, who should provide absence or overflow back up and who should review the work. Don’t be tempted to simply retain the status quo if it doesn’t make sense. For example, allowing for no absence back up for sales invoice production is not helping your business. Add columns to your analysis for each functional role, e.g. financial controller, sales ledger clerk, purchase ledger clerk, etc., so that you can allocate responsibility, back up or review to each task for that role.

Accounts team

Your analysis will probably reveal areas of doubling up where responsibilities are not clearly defined and some areas where there does not appear to be any responsibility. You can then consult your staff, complete your analysis and publish a clearly defined Organisation Chart.

Use this as an opportunity to redefine roles so that responsibilities are clear. Each column in the analysis effectively forms the detailed job description for each position, showing responsibilities, where the person is a back up for a colleague’s role and whether that role involves a review of other’s work.