All things being equal and when the planets are in perfect alignment, your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) are reviewed and updated every two years (best practice would be annually). But, things are hardly ever equal and who knows what the planets are doing. When all is said and done, it’s probably a safe bet that your procedures aren’t in the best of shape.
Here’s the thing — not having accurate procedures can send your company careening down several slippery slopes at once. Chaos and anarchy can be ensuing on any one of those paths, at any time, and you may not know about it until it’s too late. In fact, it may not even be as evident as chaos and anarchy; it might be as insidious as an overarching sense of dissatisfaction that will eventually rob you of your best people.
You may have a slight appreciation for the concept of SOP’s because of articles you’ve seen in passing or a course you had to take in business school. And, you may think that procedures are something you’ll eventually create, if you don’t have them already, or revisit if you actually did create them once upon a time.
Or maybe you’re in the opposite camp. You might think that your company is different; that it can’t be put into a “box.” You might think you need to stay flexible and free to bend to your customer’s demands or you’ll lose business. You might even think that your competition would eat your lunch if took the time to standardize your operation. Some of that might be true, but really, it’s an excuse to procrastinate on doing what you know needs to be done.
There are many things you do in your operation, every day, that are repetitive enough to massively benefit from proceduralization. Let’s look at some of the tangible, measurable advantages of a good, solid set of SOP’s:
- Maximized productivity – SOP’s make your expectations clear. They ensure a consistent, reliable work environment where everyone can give you their best work on a level playing field. Unclear expectations will leave the door wide open for poor delivery, dissatisfied employees, wasted time, and high turnover.
- Improved performance measurement – SOP’s allow you to evaluate the performance of your employees fairly. Clearly defined procedures will allow you set achievable performance objectives for your staff and will create an environment in which they can make good on those goals.
- Improved efficiency – your obligation to your staff and your customers to infuse dependability into your operation. When the daily work is standardized, issues will rise to the surface faster, you’ll have a methodology in place to rectify them quickly and to ensure that the problem won’t happen again.
- Improved communication – When SOP’s are in place, everyone is speaking the same language. Miscommunication and confusion are drastically diminished. Infusing your operation with this level of clarity can create an opportunity for new ideas, suggestions for improvement and collaboration that could take your business to the next level.
- Scale/Sell Your Business – SOP’s allow you to more easily bring on new staff when it’s time to scale your business and grow at the rate you’ve envisioned. Training time is reduced, the learning curve levels out and new employees will more quickly hit their stride. When it’s time to sell, your chances of achieving the business valuation you’ve worked so hard to create will greatly improve with a solid set of procedures in place.
- Ensured business continuity – When it’s time to expand into a second location, you’ll have enough to worry about without the potential confusion of re-establishing your operation. Solid SOP’s will allow you to replicate your business environment with ease.
- Sets a culture of excellence – Insistence upon SOP’s sets the baseline in your organization as one of respect, responsibility, intelligence, and quality.
In many ways, it’s an advantage to have someone from the outside take on the job of documenting your operation. A new set of eyes and a fresh perspective can make all the difference in the quality of the outcome.
I specialize in helping organizations of all kinds standardize and document their operation. If your SOP’s need to be updated or written from scratch, please do visit www.yourprojectplanner.com and sign up for a 30-minute introductory consultation.
If you’d like to know how working with a Project Manager will benefit your business, click on this link to watch my new free video series entitled: 5 Steps to Successful Project Management. Each video is short but packed with great information, and you’ll find a bonus gift at the end that will help you be totally prepared for your first meeting when you engage with your own Professional Project Manager.
To your success in 2018!!
Carolyne Simi empowers business owners to their next level of success by planning, managing and documenting the projects that will get them there.