Streamline your writing using the 9-step process

Posted by Sageworks

In a recent post, AccountingWEB discusses how to simplify your report writing using nine easy steps.


3-8-1 Streamline Your Writing Using the Nine-Step Process

How long does it take you to get your reports out? And how painful is it?

No one knows better than an auditor that most crazy processes grow crazier over time. Someone adds a step here and a step there, and before you know it you have a dozen silly steps that take three months to do.

In order to reduce the pain of the reporting process, you need to spend a little time now thinking about what you are doing and why. That will lead to ideas for streamlining your reporting process.

I recommend that you sit down with key members of your team and administrative staff and put each step of the reporting process on its own sticky note. Then stick all of the steps of the process on the wall, in order. Then ask the team to come up with ideas for streamlining the process.

The nine-step process will guide you in covering all of the bases. The nine-step writing process actually has 4 phases:

– Planning

– Drafting

– Editing

– Formatting

In the planning phase, you decide what you are going to say. In the drafting phase, you create full sentences to fill in your plan. In the editing phase, you hone your document to perfect it. And in the formatting phase, you make your document visually appealing.

In our nine-step process, the first three steps are the planning phase. Steps 4 and 5 make up the drafting phase. Steps 6 through 8 are the editing phase, and step 9 is the formatting phase.


1. Outline an initial objective, scope, and methodology section

2. Outline the detail section

    a. Get your thoughts on paper

    b. Fill out the finding form

    c. Evaluate and reorganize

    d. Evaluate evidence gathered

3. Outline an initial executive summary


4. Draft the objective, scope, methodology, detail section, and executive summary

5. Draft the remaining pieces of the report


6. Edit the entire report for organization

7. Edit the entire report for readability

8. Edit the entire report for mechanical correctness


9. Enhance the format of the report

Ideally, you spend about 45% of your total writing time in planning, 15% in drafting, 35% in editing, and 5% in formatting.

Here’s another way of looking at the writing process:

1. Gather information
2. Freak out
3. Organize
4. Flesh out
5. Tweak
6. Beautify

In this six-step process, gathering information occurs in the audit phase (see Chapter 2), while freaking out and organizing take place during the planning phase. Fleshing out your outline is the same as drafting your audit report. And after you tweak, or edit, your document, you need to beautify, or format, the report.


To read the full article and tips on using the Nine-Step Process, please visit AccountingWEB

tags: accountant, Accounting, audit, managing your business, strategic thinking, strategy-development