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Is your SOP Process effective?

SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is a valuable tool that gives an in-depth knowledge of various steps involved in processes, thereby guaranteeing the compliance of various statutory and environmental requirements. It contains the ABCs of material requirements, work procedure and other details that help in the standardisation of the work.

To be effective the SOP must be prepared by those who have a deep knowledge of the matter-in-hand. They could be prepared by the people who are in direct contact with the job or material as they can define the procedure without leaving room for the loss of time or material. The thorough knowledge of these people can be further utilised to provide the training required for the task. Company employees, suppliers, government officials, lawyers, technical writers, safety personnel and other people who understand the procedures must be allocated the task of drafting the Standard of Procedure.

The effectiveness of the document must be verified and rechecked before introducing it into the system. The document should describe in brief and to the point the modus operandi. An elaborate and longer document provides more opportunity for confusions leading to chaos in the performance. But a longer description is called for in those matters which are not performed on a routine basis.

The manuscript will have to be revised and redrafted to incorporate the changes that occur in the working environment. Every minute changes that occur in the entity must get reflected in the SOP if it is to be effective. The management must ensure that these changes are informed to those who come in direct contact with the rectifications and that they are educated to ensure its easy compliance. The compliance standards required by the government and the global community must be reproduced into the Standard of Procedure. A step-by-step detail of the statutory requirements help in easy implementation and thereby reduces the chances for legal repercussions. Frequent meetings of the team responsible for drafting the procedural system within the entity must be held to consult and evaluate the changes that are happening around them and identify those that need to be brought into the system.

Many quality compliance certificates are issued to the companies to understand how they fair in the industry. Compliance of the quality standards set by Six Sigma, Lean Sigma, International Standard Organisation, Indian Standard Organisation; all require the definition of the Standard of Procedure to be followed to guarantee their observance. The strict adherence to these procedures is inevitable to guarantee success amongst the competitors.

In large organisations, changes might occur in a number of areas that makes it difficult to make all the rectifications in a day. This calls for the prioritisation of the activities on the basis of their impact on the organisation. Constant feedbacks from the employees will help to identify areas of improvement.

The effectiveness of the SOP must be therefore evaluated at frequent intervals for the survival of any organisation.

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