What is dead book keeper syndrome?

The term ‘dead book keeper syndrome’ is used to refer to a situation in which an individual who acts as the book keeper of an organization suddenly disappears or dies, leaving such an organization with no one to ‘keep the books’.

This syndrome, particularly increases the risk associated with running a business. With book keeping itself, defined as the act of recording the day-to-day financial transaction of an organization, to aid the management of such an organization in decision making. It goes without saying that improper decisions would be made as a result of the ‘dead book keeper syndrome’.

However, to forestall the eventualities that come with the ‘dead book keeper syndrome’ the following must be put in place:

  • Passwords

Do you have a master passwords list? Does someone, apart from the bookkeeper of your organization know how to access it? Your master passwords list must include: Security Question answers for the books, User IDs, Passwords, and, online banking details (checking, savings, credit cards, loans), major vendors, payroll service, and third party applications such as and so on. This would go a long way in saving you the hassle associated with ‘dead book keeper syndrome’.

  • Know the book keeping programs

It is quite important for you to know all the computer programs that are used by your organization’s book keeper. Compiling a master passwords list, earlier mentioned, would ensure that all the programs employed in keeping the books in your organization are documented. However, it should not stop at documenting the names of the program used. It is important that you or some person in your organization, apart from the book keeper know how to proper engage the computer program to keep the books of your organization. Ignorance in this aspect could be costly. Click here.

  • Draw up a calendar that clearly displays deadlines

Do you have a computer program or a master calendar which you can easily refer to for filing deadlines? In case the book keeper disappears for reasons known or unknown, would the organization run smoothly without failing to meet deadlines, which only the book keeper has in his/her head? To avoid such, it is advised that, a calendar that clearly displays the deadlines to be met be displayed conspicuously or given to each member of your organization. Such information, should not reside only in the book keeper’s corner.

  • Ensure that someone else know the book keeping procedures

Does anyone apart from the bookkeeper know which bills are usually paid using credit cards,paid by check or simply paid to an agent?Does someone else know how to reconcile a monthly bank statement of your organization? These questions can go on and on. Now, the main question is this: Does your office have documented procedures?

  • Create a book keeping reference manual

If someone had to quickly step in to keep the books, does any reference manual exist?  90-95% of the time, the answer is a‘No’. In fact, the 5-10% of the time when the answer is ‘Yes’ the manual is out-dated. This makes it virtually impossible to keep the books in the absence of the book keeper.While the time put in creating written procedures has an up-front cost, the time and cost it saves down the road is so invaluable. Ensure that the reference manual created is constantly updated with useful book keeping information of your organization. These would facilitate an easy switch from one book keeper to the other. For more details, visit:


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