The Secret To A Fail-proof Standard Operating Procedure (Part 2)

Why are some departments not getting value from their standard operating procedures?

At this point, you may be thinking, "If we can do a better job faster with fewer errors, accidents, and risks, why don't we already use standard operating procedures?"

Big question! Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are invaluable tools, but like any tool, you can misuse them. Here are the common mistakes that prevent teams from unlocking that value:

Too busy

This is the main reason why most teams fail. They are too busy doing the job and don't have time to document it, despite how simple their job would be in the long run. Ultimately, urgent short-term needs get in the way of long-term planning. However, do not be discouraged. In the following example, we will show you how to incorporate SOP writing into your management routine.

Outdated information

SOPs create additional work - you have to maintain them. Incorrect, incomplete, or outdated instructions are not much better than no instructions at all.

Wrong time, wrong place

Even the perfect instructions are of no use if they are not available. Too often, well-written SOPs end up in an office drawer while the workers who need them are out in the field. Putting PCOS in a physical form makes it difficult to have it in the right place at the right time. The department may not benefit from the effort of creating it.

Not easy to use

If your PCOS isn't easy to use, everyone will ignore it. The SOPs must have a friendly format so that their use is easy, even pleasant.

If the instructions are written, they may need a clear table of contents, illustrations, color-coded tabs, and lots of headings, subtitles, and bullets.

You can also incorporate standard operating procedures in the workplace. For instance:

  • Hang visually attractive posters with instructions next to the equipment.
  • In checklists, create and add QR codes that link to websites with useful information instead of burdening them with clumsy papers.

In fact, this principle of integration is so important that you will find that it plays a key role in creating a fail-safe SOP. We will delve into this below.

Lack of responsibility on the ground

It takes energy to change habits, and people generally will only do so if they know there will be consequences. Each SOP should include a section that explains how and when to evaluate the work in relation to the SOP.

Lack of acceptance by management

In order for employees to take standard operating procedures seriously, you must ensure that the SOP is, in fact, the yardstick management uses when evaluating work. If management's expectations of a job well done don't align with the content of the SOP, that means one of two things:

- The POE is incorrect.

- Management does not understand the nuances of the work environment.

Fortunately, giving management a well-written SOP makes it easy for them to use it by default as their preferred assessment tool rather than creating their own.

Engraved in stone

The needs of your department are constantly changing. If you wrote the standard operating procedure in a way that requires a lot of things to do to update, you may have created more work than you saved.

Examples of inflexible SOPs include:

  • Physical copies: printed pages to be tracked and exchanged

  • Page format: dense content, difficult to understand in which adding information to one page will affect the layout of all subsequent pages (instead of replacing a single page)

  • Content formatting: "wall of text" verbiage (instead of graphic, more on this later) that makes small changes difficult to perceive.

  • Unannounced: any change that is not announced or trained in meetings as well.

  • Go from memory: procedures that you do not need to look at when executing the job (making it easy to lose new information)

Don't worry, there is good news!

Do not be discouraged! Knowing all the ways a standard operating procedure can fail means you can stop problems before they even start.

Still Liking this? Wait for the final part in the next Issue!

Source: Limble CMMS