Timothy Drabic Explains How Communication Is Key to Creating A Unified Plan
Every company has its own unique set of tasks and processes that are repeated over and over again. Since not everyone on the team might not be aware of the best practices or how to execute such a task effectively, a step-by-step guide is needed. This guide is called the standard operating procedure (SOP).
As an expert with over 20 years of experience in applying process improvement techniques to improve business results, Timothy Drabic has been involved with creating and developing countless SOPs for different businesses across multiple teams spread all over the country. “Good communication,” he says, “is the key to developing an effective SOP that improves productivity and brings everyone up to speed with best practices regardless of the number of teams and where they are.”
Who Needs the SOP
Since communication and attention to detail are vital components of the development of an effective SOP, it’s important, first and foremost, to define the different processes that need documenting and consult with the people who will benefit from such a document.
“No matter where your teams are,” explains Timothy Drabic, “whether they are in the same building or scattered across the globe, it’s important to get their input.” These people are the ones who will need the SOP and will consult it regularly. Whenever a new member joins the team, the SOP will be the reference that sits on their desk. So, keeping the target audience in mind is key to orienting the SOP and making sure it contains the most up-to-date information relevant to the processes at hand.
With the right information and feedback from the teams and their managers in hand, it’s time to sit down and plan the SOP. This process might be the most time-consuming and a lot of investigative work needs to be included.
“You might be tempted to start creating an SOP for every process in your organization but that would be a mistake,” warns Timothy Drabic. “Not every process is worthy of documentation. Furthermore, some processes can be merged into one document to create a robust plan that is concise and stays viable for a long time.”
Another pitfall to avoid is including processes undergoing change or still being formulated or taking shape. This would require updating the SOP regularly which is a resource-intensive and error-prone endeavor.
With all that in mind, you can start drafting a template for the SOP. Following the same template, design, and formatting throughout the document makes it easier and faster for the audience to find the information they’re looking for. It also gives the document a uniform and professional look.
Communicating with the Experts
Whether you’re collecting data or trying to settle on the best design and formatting for the document, you need to keep the communication channels open with all concerned parties.
“While your role as the SOP developer,” says Timothy Drabic, “ends once you hand over the document, it’s those responsible for enforcing it that will be using it on almost a daily basis.” This is why those who will refer to the document need to have a say, not just in what content goes in there, but also how such data will be formatted and organized.
It is recommended that you have at least two templates in place and to consult with the managers and team leaders on the best template that suits them. You might also want to involve them in the review process. Throughout the whole time, you’re creating the SOP, you need to seek their feedback and opinions to ensure the end product meets their approval and satisfies their needs.