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Showing posts with the label SOPs

Avoid mistakes with your SOPs!

SOPs ( Standard Operating Procedures ) help everyone in a business. They help to clarify your own thoughts, if you are writing them. They help others to understand the expectations, safe effective methods and what has been agreed previously. For new starters, they help to speed up the training process. So, why don't so many people embrace this tool? I'd love to know the answer, but if you find yourself in this situation let me give you a few pointers. Capture the information any way you see fit. If you have an existing format that works, use it, otherwise make sure you capture the information in a way that makes sense to you. Make the information is understandable. Photos and images are great. Ensure the information is accessible. Get them off your desktop and into the hands of those using the information. Embrace the feedback. If the readers are confused, simplify the material. I heard the other day that a big mistake in a company I know has happened again. Guess what? The fir

Using a skills matrix to improve processes

Many times I will enter a business and I'll see a skills matrix on a noticeboard. Do you use them? Many of the skills matrices I see are out of date and under used. So, how about this for an idea?

What Can A Detached Retina Teach Us About Standard Operating Procedures?

I had a fascinating / terrifying personal experience very recently that had relevance to a meeting I had this week... about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). A few weeks ago I was diagnosed as having a detached retina. Thankfully I live near to a superb hospital and they worked their magic on my poorly eye (and yes, I got to watch them as the whole procedure was done under local anaesthetic...). Which brings me to my conversation about SOPs.

How Do Your Staff Learn The Business' Processes?

I was visiting a business yesterday and a few simple questions revealed that their newer members of staff didn't understand the business' processes. There were some simple things this business could do, that many businesses could do, to improve this situation.

Routines.... Boring But Vital!

A lot of my clients resist formalising their business routines, at first. I can understand this, it certainly isn't a sexy subject and there are usually larger, pressing, issues also at hand. However, if you do a bit of root cause analysis you can soon trace back some of the bigger issues in your business to these smaller tasks that possibly aren't being handled in the right way...

But Why Do I Need SOPs?

'But why do I need SOPs?' is a question I often get asked. If you are working with Standard Operating Procedures then you will most likely hear this question too.

Who Writes Your SOPs?

This weekend I succumbed to buying a barbecue. I bought one from a local shop and thought it would be fun to build and use for the first time. I was quite impressed with the packaging and the instructions were pretty good... until I got to about three quarters of the way through the assembly.

Forming Productive Habits

A Sunrise Meeting is an effective gathering of your routines. Click here to find out more about my book on the subject. One of my clients who has been going through a significant period of change in their business said to me the other day 'it's all about forming good habits, isn't it?' When you look at our operational issues, things that stop us from getting our products out the door in a sane manner, then a lot of the time it does depend on how good your habits are.

SOPs Need To Detail Each Step

One of the key features of an effective SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is the ability to capture each step along the way. I worked with a great team yesterday and this was one of the things we discussed after attempting to write some SOPs.

Are Your Visual Management Boards 'Visual'?

Visual management boards are a great tool. With only a casual glance you can understand the performance of an office, a production line, or anything else that you care to manage and run. However, the boards I sometimes see don't always tell you what you want to know instantly:

Was That A Guess?

When you're new to a process it can sometimes be overwhelming to try and keep up with the waves of information that are coming at you. There are so many things to learn that you need to spend some time absorbing this information and try your best to keep up. Over time you learn the ropes and you find that you begin to master the process, so that you become the one at the front, the leader, who can then drive the process forward.

Use A SOP Map For Faster Training

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 t

Create effective routines

Businesses need to create and use effective routines . When you boil down your factories’ activities you can find a simple series of activities that need to be completed on a daily, or weekly, basis. Businesses that are out of control find themselves not doing the things that they know they should be doing. The first day is OK as nothing bad has happened. Extend this forward a week or two and the lack of proper activity starts to have a knock on effect. The key is to make the right activities part of the normal course of action. One factory that I worked with had a purchasing team that didn't execute their daily activities each day. Problems would ‘come out of the blue’ every few weeks. Suppliers had to be chased to prevent line stoppages and a frenzy of activity would be seen by all. Their problem was that they hadn't decided how to handle their key activities each and every day, so they didn't. Rather than correct this situation they worked ineffectively for a week o

When Smart People Are A Nuisance

We all like smart people, right? The purpose of this article is to share a word of caution when undertaking new continuous improvement projects; sometimes the situation to be improved can be made artificially complex. Many smart people like complicated things. However, complicated problems and complicated solutions can make life unnecessarily difficult. When a situation is difficult to manage and needs to be improved you can often find yourself looking for solutions that will take every last detail into account and provide a robust solution. What if you don’t need to undertake all of these details? What if they are symptoms of something else? If you find yourself in this position then it might be a good time to undertake some root cause analysis, to find out what is real and what is a knock on effect from some other activity. Root cause analysis can be very simple to undertake and one of the most popular options is ‘5 Why’. This approach is widely used to dig past the symp

Writing Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures , or SOPs, are a staple in the manufacturing world. It’s not just factories either; pretty much everywhere you go there are formal instructions available. SOPs are a way to communicate the best way to perform a task. Having a single optimum instruction can improve the quality of products and services as well as reduce cost and time. You may therefore think that SOPs are embraced by most businesses. From my experience however it appears that they are left to languish. This does not need to be the case, and by using teams of two to write and maintain SOPs you can realise greater benefits from your instructions. Firstly, you need to consider who your team of two will be. Please make it someone who is going to use the instructions. Many businesses use one team to write the instructions and a different team to execute the instructions. In some cases this may because of the technical knowledge required to define the optimum sequence of the steps. Having som

When Does a Project Become a Process?

You've come to the end of your project. You've found out what is going on in your business, you've developed some new processes and now you need to finish the project. What do you do next? Many projects, especially change projects, need to conclude by inserting their key outputs into the routines and habits of the business. The processes that are developed need to be triggered and executed as they were designed. Attaching these project steps to your daily meetings, your timetables, or whatever else you use to regulate your daily activities is essential. Letting a project's brilliance lapse due to a lack of discipline is not a route I recommend. A project needs to move past maintenance instructions and Standard Operating Procedures if you want it to become a habit that the business adopts. If your improvement projects aren't creating new ways of working then make sure your projects turn into routines. Giles Johnston Author of 'Business

Get Your Routines Down on Paper

Time management is an ongoing and popular topic on the Internet. There are many approaches and some really deliver benefits to the people who use them. I am a big fan of routines. Every process has trigger points and key activities that need to happen like clockwork. Ensuring that you identify these key activities and then schedule them is a priority for anyone managing themselves or a team. Putting the routine in writing makes it easier to communicate, it also makes it easier to manage. I recommend that my clients who decide to create one of these loose timetables also uses a copy as a checklist. Ticking off completed actions can help to form the right habits. An alternative approach is to use a Kamishibai board of course. I'm sure that you can think of more alternative methods to drive the same kind of repetition. As a rule of thumb I advise my clients to only put 50% of their time (or less) against a time table like this. This allows you to maintain flexibilit

Visual SOPs - now available on Amazon Kindle

Available at Amazon Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs for short) are a great tool for managing processes and actually improving a business' productivity. From the many questions I have been asked over the years, and via this blog, I thought it was time to put pen to paper. Just released on the Amazon Kindle platform , 'Visual SOPs' looks at these instructional documents from a slightly different perspective - how do I integrate my SOPs with my team's day to day working so that they actually become useful? The book also comes with five downloadable files / templates to use in your own business. For more information, visit the ' Visual SOPs ' page on Amazon (opens Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Streamlining Your Office

Available at Amazon I got a follow up question from last week's lean manufacturing event  about how this applies into the administrative area of a business and I thought that I would share this on my blog too. The principles of lean (value, value stream, flow, pull and perfection) all apply, it's about being a little creative in how you apply these ideas to your business that counts. By looking at what your business needs to achieve then you can find ways to apply the ideas, ultimately cutting out unnecessary work and streamlining the remaining work. Take the flow stage for example. In administrative functions the quality of the work being passed between one department and another can make a huge difference to the overall lead time if the work is incomplete or unclear. Whereas in a manufacturing environment you can see the physical work happening and there are sometimes more rigid constraints this does not always happen in an office. There can be many ways to pro