Develop a table of contents for the finance manual
This should be agreed by the project reference team before the detailed drafting works starts. The table of contents should outline the main elements covered in the finance manual. See Mango’s Sample table of contents for an NGO finance manual. The manual can include the relevant finance policies and all supporting templates and forms. These policies and templates can be added as appendices to the main manual so they can be easily updated and the manual still remains valid.
For each chapter or section in the finance manual, assign a responsible person to develop it. This may be someone in the finance team or someone from the project reference team. The responsible person for each section should propose and agree a deadline with the PRT to complete their sections and any related templates as a first draft. The person responsible should be clear about:
- what the section is supposed to achieve
- what to explain so that users are clear on how to do it
- any related sections that need to be consistent and link with their section’s content.
Ensure the manual is well-written and user-friendly
This is essential if it is to be effective. When writing each section, think about the following:
- Write using plain language – this helps users understand the manual. Keep jargon and acronyms to a minimum. If your manual is in English, visit the Plain English Campaign website for helpful information and tips on writing in plain English
- Include a glossary to explain all accounting and finance technical terms used in the text. This can be created collaboratively by the people responsible for each section. See Mango's glossary for sample explanations of key accounting terms and concepts.
Editing, approvals and version control
- When each section is completed it is a good idea for an independent reader to review the draft before it is submitted to the project reference team. This helps to ensure that small mistakes are picked up, and that it can be understood by users. The project reference team should review all sections, ensuring they are coherent and meet the expectations of the organisation.
- It helps to have the final text edited by a communications or editing specialist who can ensure that formatting is consistent, add hyperlinks, format the table of contents and add pictures, tables etc. to make the manual user-friendly.
- The final version should be approved by the Board or project reference team if they have the delegated authority from the Board.
- The final version should include a version control table at the front of the manual to show the date of the final approved version and document any subsequent changes and edits applied. The project reference team should agree the next date when the manual will be formally reviewed and include this information in the manual text. An example version control table is outlined below.
|Version number||Updated by||Date||Updated sections||Next review date|
If you would like further support on developing or updating your finance manual, please contact our approachable and friendly advisory team.