Making standard operating procedures stick

As the culture of entrepreneurship in the Caribbean leans more towards formal business models, businesses have begun to utilise Standard Operating Procedures as crucial components of operations management.

WHAT ARE SOPs

Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs for short, are written guides that lay out step-by-step instruction for the effective completion of routine operations tasks. Beyond simply execution steps, SOPs also outline the best persons, places, time and materials to be used for the completion of tasks.

WHY USE SOPs

SOPs are an important aspect of good operations management, as they help solidify structure within your organisation. Operations management includes planning, organising and supervising around company inputs, whether that be materials, equipment or human resources, for the optimisation of products and services. SOPs facilitate effective operations management.

HOW TO WRITE GOOD SOPs

Keep it Short & Sweet

Decide which jobs and tasks are most important to your operations and have the greatest impact on your revenues. Those are the jobs you’ll need to focus on creating SOPs for. Once you’ve honed in on what SOPs are most worthwhile, write each as concisely as possible without losing important details. Your team will find it easier to comprehend and follow shorter, to the point SOPs.

Know Your Audience

Consider the nuances of the audience your writing each SOP for. The education, skill level, communication style and culture of each group should dictate the language you use for each. Remember that your purpose is to effectively convey information in a way that’s useful to the person reading it.

Evaluate & Revise

Test all your SOPs. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and revise as necessary.

 

HOW TO MAKE SOPs STICK

Make Them Routine

In order to be effective SOPs must be a part of your company’s routine workflow. Put systems in place to ensure your team uses SOPs consistently. Repeated action makes sure SOPs stick over the long term.

Incorporate with Quality Control

SOPs should be in line with, support and reinforce your quality control goals. Also, the quality of your output should be measured against relevant SOPs to gauge effectiveness. If SOPs are off, the output quality will be affected. Tying in quality control and SOP measurement ensures SOPs will remain useful.

Evaluate Performance

Let your employees know that their performance will be measured against how efficiently, consistently and thoroughly they are following SOPs. This will encourage SOP adherence.

Replication and Growth

As your business grows, replicate SOPs as much as possible. This keeps them ingrained in your operation systems.

Creating SOPs gives you an opportunity to think carefully about operations, realise what works and doesn’t, and allows you to make educated changes as necessary. SOPs also build a sense of structure and ease within your organisation, as team members are clear on their roles and how best to accomplish their duties. This winning combination of positives around SOPs is an important driver towards business growth and success.  

 

Written by Keisha Hudson — Operations Manager, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship — Caribbean

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