Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an essential part of any organization’s operations. They provide clear instructions for how tasks should be performed, ensuring consistency and accuracy in the work of employees. They are also a bar to evaluate against. However, for SOPs to be effective, they must be easily accessible and followable.
If there is friction to accessing the documentation, it is not going to be used. Workarounds and hidden work will be created.
One key aspect of making SOPs accessible is ensuring that they are stored in a central location that is easily accessible to all employees. This could be a digital library or a physical binder. Whatever the method, it should be easy for employees to find the SOPs they need quickly and without hassle. You can even put QR codes at stations directing them to relevant material to that post.
Take the time to walk through the SOPs with new hires or on a regular repeating timeline. Telling them where they are and asking them to read it in downtown is not enough.
Another important aspect of accessibility is making sure that SOPs are written in a clear and concise manner. They should be easy to understand and follow, even for employees who may not have a lot of experience in the particular task at hand. We have been incorporating GIFs for visual work instructions. This all can be accomplished by using simple language, providing step-by-step instructions, and including diagrams or pictures where appropriate.
It is essential to ensure that SOPs are actually being used by employees. One way to do this is by regularly monitoring their usage and feedback. This can be done by conducting regular audits, surveys, or by tracking the number of times the SOPs are accessed. If an SOP is not being used, it may indicate that it is not accessible, not useful or not clear enough, and it needs to be reviewed and revised.
If you are growing your business, remember that your systems will be tested more often and break. You can try to build for the scale you are looking at, but it’s okay to build systems for today and figure out the future needs when they come. I like to schedule reminders every 3 months to audit our systems and see if there are any processes not documented. When you get new software, machines, roles, etc. at your organization, try to test processes out before release.
Making SOPs easily accessible and followable is essential for ensuring that they are effective in improving the operations of an organization. By storing them in a central location, making them clear and concise, and actively monitoring their usage, organizations can ensure that their SOPs are helping to improve the work of their employees.
Thanks to Everest Brady for his help, writing, and research in assembling this week’s newsletter.
This Week on Think Like an Owner
Our guest on this episode is Carl Streck, founder and CEO of MountainSeed, a data and software business serving commercial real estate professionals. Alex was introduced to Carl by Michael Arrieta after asking Michael for the most interesting entrepreneurs in data he knew of, and Carl’s name was the first out of his mouth. Carl started MountainSeed in 2006 to build software serving banks making commercial real estate loans and eventually developed a data product to help banks make more data-driven decisions.
Carl and Alex talk about bootstrapping a data software company, evolutions in his management style as the company grew, the business models of data companies, and how staying close to customers impacted the development of their data product. Enjoy!
This episode Q&A features Ravix Group, where CEO Timi Okah joins to answer the question, “How do you work with your clients?” Ravix Group isa fraction CFO, outsourced accounting, and HR consulting firm serving small and large businesses alike. To learn more about Ravix Group, head to their website and tell them Think Like An Owner sent you.
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