Standard Operating Procedures (commonly known as SOPs) are an extremely useful tool for most businesses. SOPs are also one of the most underrated tools I see on my travels. This simple instructional approach is underutilised in many businesses as once they are written they never see the light of day (until something goes wrong!).
In my book, ‘Visual SOPs’, I discuss using what I call a ‘SOP Map’ to help get better use out of your SOPs. The idea is simple – you attach your SOP references to a business process map that you have for your business. The visual reference I make in the book is about keeping our SOPs visible within the business. If your business process maps are a visible item then this is a great way to help incorporate SOPs into your day to day working.
One of the greatest reasons for having SOPs is to speed up training of new team members. Once you have defined the one best way to complete a task in your business you need to make sure that new people adhere to this agreed method. Having a SOP map can help them not only find what document they need to find when, but helps put the entire business process into context.
If you use an Intranet then you can link the documents to provide a more cohesive training tool. Can you imagine having your new member of staff sitting with their notepad and pen trying to copy down what someone else does for their job? Many businesses deliver their internal training this way. Now imagine that this new person is browsing through some very simply written SOPs instead. One of my clients did just this and within one hour their new team member was performing their role for the purchasing department without error.
If you write SOPs then try to think of ways to make them easier to follow as a whole for training your new team members. Try using a SOP map as described above and see if your training time reduces next time you gain a new member of staff.
- Locate a business process map in your business that you can add your SOP information to.
- If you can’t locate a suitable map then create your own top level process map.
- List the appropriate SOPs on the process map.
- Hyperlink the relevant files to the process map where possible.
- Present the new SOP map to your teams and encourage its use as a training aid.
The book 'Visual SOPs' is now available online in PDF format. Click here for more details.