Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Doing Things Right Without Wasting Time
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are key to running an efficient business. Here’s how we teach our clients to write them:
- The CEO is the project champion – designate another to be the day-to-day project leader.
- Bring the project leader and department heads together. Explain the benefits and the process to complete the project.
- Select an online process documentation program (e.g. www.process.st) or use what you favor (e.g. Word). I prefer online solutions to keep everything in a single location accessible by all.
- Department leaders direct each person on their team to write down every step they take in performing their function. This first pass doesn’t have to be totally polished.
- The project leader can conduct process mapping sessions using sticky notes placed in sequence on a wall or white board to generate an outline.
- Set the schedule and follow up. The Project Leader keeps the ball rolling.
- A great way to help someone is to interview them about their job. Ask them to explain in sequence and in detail what they do every day. Record or write down their answers and have supporting documentation to add.
- After the first pass, have the Project Leader sit down with the employee (and perhaps an additional colleague or two) to review and improve as needed. Consider whether someone completely unfamiliar with the function could perform by following the instructions.
- Keep an eye out for process inefficiencies. This is an opportunity for immediate improvement.
- Have each department present their processes to other departments in SOP lunch-and-learns. Record peoples’ suggestions and note process improvements.
- With everything in place, you can begin cross-training and set a schedule for regular process review and improvement meetings.
I hope by now you’re convinced that SOPs are not hard to document and that they are helpful tools to save time and of course, money. If so, jump in with both feet and you’ll have your SOPs in no time.