A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions to help and guide employees to perform tasks related to individual processes within an organization effectively. An SOP is essential to maintain consistency of process execution to deliver expected outcomes. Irrespective of the size of the business implementing SOPs can benefit them to improve quality, safety, and efficiency.
However, not all organizations implement SOPs. Some organizations find the process of building SOPs too tedious, some organizations fail to implement SOPs even after drafting them, and some organizations follow improper ways of drafting and implementing SOPs. Below is the list of challenges faced by organizations in implementing SOPs.
Key Challenges in implementing SOPs
The below infographic shows some of the major challenges that organizations face while implementing SOPs.
- Failure to recognize the need – Organizations across industries struggle with SOPs. Many organizations see SOPs as monotonous documents that do not add real value to the company. The only way to make organizations realize the need for SOPs is to make a comparative study of the process efficiency, quality, and delivery with and without SOPs.
- Improper writing – A good SOP is essentially brief, visual, and unambiguous to the user. However, most of the SOP’s lack empathy towards the user and are written in too much text, they contain jargon, and they are not written with the user in mind.
- Improper maintenance – SOPs that are written for SOP’s sake end up in racks and bins not to be consumed by anybody. The best place for SOP is near the point of use where the actual operations are carried out. There is no point in drafting an SOP if it is going to accumulate dust in the racks!
- Inconsistencies in review and training – Every process undergoes some changes and adjustments regularly based on the business requirements. In such cases, SOPs should be revised as per the new process and all the users should be trained on the new SOPs. Failure to do so will result in inconsistent process performance and affects the quality and delivery.
- A shift in Mindset – As with any form of organizational change, implementing SOPs requires a significant change in the Mindset of management and employees alike. This is hard to achieve if the organization’s culture does not encourage change and employees are inherently resistant to change.
Need for Standard Operating Procedures
The below infographic shows some points which highlight the need for SOPs.
- Business Continuity – In the absence of SOPs, based on the complexity of the operations a lot of time effort goes to train the new personnel which directly affects the performance of the business. SOPs ensure that the processes are run without any hindrance even in case of personnel changes and without affecting the business continuity.
- Increase Productivity – SOPs lessen the miscommunication between employees and address safety concerns. Since SOPs give the users little or no scope to interpret the ways to perform the tasks, the process errors are drastically reduced. This ultimately results in reduced rework and increased productivity.
- Consistency and Standardization – SOPs ensure that irrespective of the person in charge, the operations performed yield the desired result every time. This can be attributed to the fact SOPs help businesses to standardize the repetitive tasks that can be performed with minimal training.
- Improve Quality – SOP’s help businesses streamline workflows and improve efficiencies by minimizing errors. Having SOPs in place improves the visibility of the process. Any deviation from the process can be immediately recognized and rectified, thus, reducing the risk of poor quality.
- Regulatory Requirement – Several industries such as Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals where safety and quality are the primary concerns, are mandated by regulatory authorities to have proper SOPs. For such organizations, having SOPs in place ensures that the regulatory requirements are met without any legal risk.
How to start and not stop at the end of this article piece?
I would recommend starting simply by just taking this approach, which has negligible risk, simple and yet an amazingly effective positive step towards our goal of a proactive strategy
A) Take pen-paper or manual method (start now)
Start implementing the recommended strategy using your existing technology resources for a known and low-risk segment of processes within your business to find out what works and what doesn’t. Indeed, this causes efforts, but this will pave the way for better and efficient SOPs.
B) Take help from technology
Work towards making it unattended, assisted by using Super-fast digital solution such that it works autonomously without losing its efficacy by engaging a solid, affordable Business and Technology solution partner.
If you are a CEO/COO/CIO/Managing Director/General Manager who is spending more time in reactive/preventive mode than future-facing, please reach out for an exploratory conversation.
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Pradeep Mishra (Director and Co-founder)
Ashok Mulchandani (Partner – Business Success and Strategic Transformation)
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