How to Compile Standard Operating Procedures that Work

I often encounter business owners that complain that they have Standard Operating Procedures in their company, but that nobody adheres to them, despite the fact that it was cost-intensive and time-intensive to develop.

There are several myths regarding Standard Operating Procedures which lead to this problem.  Managers think that once a Standard Operating Procedure is developed, it is set in stone.  Employees can feel that these rigid standards can make their jobs boring or demeaning.  They can also feel threatened, thinking that once these standards are in place, they will be replaced by someone cheaper.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

The whole purpose of setting standards is to ensure that there is a consistent way of doing things, and that the business is not conducted in a haphazard way.  It can actually foster continuous improvement and client satisfaction.

Factors to consider when compiling Standard Operating Procedures include:

  • Ensure staff buy-in.

    If you involve the staff and really listen to their ideas, they will feel that they have had a say in the creation of the Standard Operating Procedures, and will be more likely to follow them.

  • Keep it simple.

    Write simple, concise guidelines that are easy to read and understand.  Avoid superfluous language, and just include enough information to get the job done quickly and accurately.  Flowcharts, diagrams, and graphs also enhance quick understanding.

  • Focus on best practices.

    Create systems based on best practices and how to achieve them.  If people know exactly what is expected of them, they are likely to deliver what is expected.  If you give people the information and tools they need to accomplish their job, they are very likely to perform to the best of their ability.

  •  Avoid too much standardization.

    You want to create systems to avoid disorganized and irregular behaviour.  However, you can overdo this.  It is better to build a system that allows for flexibility and customization according to people’s skill level.  This allows them to be creative within the system and creates the desire to continuously improve.

  • Make sure that people understand why there are systems.

    The systems are there to help them control their work better, not to control them.  They must understand their role and functions in order to perform better.

When compiling Standard Operating Procedures, the challenge is to develop a learning organization that will continuously find ways to reduce waste and improve productivity.  Are you ready to meet this challenge?

If you need help in compiling Standard Operating Procedures for your small business, please contact Virtual Productivity Solutions.

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