A template is a pre-defined object or document you use as a pattern to create a copy. The template remains unchanged so that you can use it again and again. There are several benefits to using templates in your business.
Why Use Templates?
Using templates for your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations saves time and effort. The idiom, “a stitch in time saves nine,” comes to mind. You will save time later when you invest energy into creating high-quality, flexible templates now.
Another time-saving factor of templates is consistency. When you use templates in your business processes, critical and frequently used information is always in the same place. It is easy for people to find and understand. Then, collaboration becomes easier, and you can reduce the chance of errors and miscommunication. For example, imagine if your team members use the same template for meeting invitations. The template forces them to include the date, time, place, and specific agenda items before sending it. Then, everyone could adequately prepare before the meeting, and the meeting would be more productive.
Additionally, because templates present information the same way every time, variations are easier to see. Consider how an account’s systematic use of templates allows them to notice that pennies are missing from the business’s bottom line. The faster you can spot deviations, the quicker you can react to financial stresses or market trends.
Furthermore, a unified design within and across templates signals cohesion and structure, strengthening your brand internally and externally.
When Should You Create a Template?
Create templates for all your standardized documents and forms, such as financial statements, letterhead, policies, procedures, work instructions, social media posts, and even emails.
Personally, I create a template whenever I realize I’m doing the same thing I’ve done at least twice before. That’s why I appreciate Asian Efficiency’s 3-Times Rule – if you recognize you’re doing something for the third time, you should likely create a template.
How to Create Templates
How you create a template will depend on the template you need. For example, you might use a spreadsheet (Excel, Numbers, etc.) for tracking your sales numbers. You would use Word or Pages to develop a policy and PowerPoint or Keynote to create a presentation.
The easiest way to create a template is to start with something you already have. Firstly, save it with a new name, such as “Policy-Template.docx.”
Next, edit your template. Set the styles, fonts, colours, and formatting throughout the template to ensure a cohesive and professional appearance. Then, you can work on the basic structure and layout. Remember to include headers, footers, and formatted headings and tables. Add placeholder text and images to help users visualize how the final content will look. You can use the placeholder text to tell users important information about the specific section or what size of image to use.
Once you are happy with your template, save it as a docx file. Then, save the template in the template format, “Policy-Template.dotx.”
Now, it’s time to test. Send the template (dotx file) to a few other people, such as team members or trusted colleagues and ask them to use it to create a sample document. Review the template for any errors, inconsistencies, or areas of improvement. Refine the design using your docx file and recreate the dotx file.
When your template is complete, you will have two files, the docx and the dotx. Place the docx file in your computer’s Templates folder (a sub-folder under Admin). It will be the source to create future templates. Then, put the dotx version in your working folder. You will use the dotx version to create new policies. The great thing about using the dotx version is that it makes a new document each time, so you can’t overwrite the previous contents. You can use this method for documents (docx-dotx), spreadsheets (xlsx-xltx), and presentations (pptx-potx).
Unfortunately, not all software applications allow you to create templates this way. If you are in this situation, make your template and create a copy. Put the original in your Admin > Templates folder, then use the copy as a working copy. Then, if you accidentally overwrite your template, you can create a new copy from the original.
It’s a little complicated, but working this way will ensure you record changes as you progress in your business. In summary, using templates in your business saves time, ensures consistency and strengthens your brand. Stop struggling and redoing work. Reach out and book a discovery call today. We can help you harness the power of templates to streamline your workflow.