You know what’s no fun? Chores. They are what you might call a, “necessary evil.” One of the hardest transitions in life is when you first leave home, and you suddenly realize A) just how many chores your parent(s) or guardian did that you took for granted and B) that you have no idea how to complete most of them. Fortunately, most of us are able to pick up the phone and get instructions on how to sort laundry (don’t mix colors with whites) and if popcorn kernels can go down the garbage disposal (probably not a good idea). If we’re smart, we take notes, in essence creating our first set of standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Now you’re in a work environment, and everyone has a bunch of tasks you could call their, “chores.” Tasks that are not particularly exciting, but important to your organization’s success. The difference with the work example is that you don’t move out, instead your parents (Read: critical employee) decide to move to Hawaii*, leaving you too watch the house, feed the dog and maintain the yard. Now you’re wishing you’d documented your processes because no matter how much you call, lets face it your parents are to busy soaking up the rays to answer the phone. So before all your processes walk out the door to go wear a grass skirt on the beach, make your New Year’s Resolution to document your SOPs. Here are a few steps to get you started.
Audit Current Documentation
Many organizations actually assume they have more documentation than they really do. But when they start actually looking closely, they realize current documentation is outdated, sparse, or just missing. Auditing means that someone goes in and does a close read of existing documentation. Ideally it’s someone who didn’t create the documentation but also knows enough about the process to know if something doesn’t make sense.
Outline a Timeline…and Check In On It!
Once an audit is complete, set up a timeline of when the documentation will be updated. Don’t just say, “All SOPs updated by X date.” Break it up into manageable chunks. Ideally more than one person can be involved in the process, in which case have a weekly 10-minute check in to “celebrate” the small victories. That being said, there should also be a larger celebration when it’s all done.
The End is Just the Beginning
Now that your SOPs are up to date, setting up a SOP that regularly updates the SOPs is critical. Just as the business is constantly changing, so should the SOPs document be a living document that is updated and revised on a regular basis. The easiest way to accomplish this is by incorporating the SOPs into the organization instead of writing them and forgetting them. SOPs should be used as part of the new staff training. When staff have questions about how to do things, you could refer them to the section of the SOPs that addresses their question. Creating a culture where people reference your SOPs does several thing:
Getting Creative with Your SOPs
If you’ve finished updating your SOPs, but what to take it a step further, here are a few options:
We hope you have a productive 2017!
*Note: Just in case you think the author is being overly hyperbolic he wanted to point out that his parents did in fact move to Hawaii and leave him in the house his freshman year of college.
About Our Guest Blogger:
Justin Burniske serves as the Senior IT Manager at fusionSpan, bringing his experience implementing and overseeing association management systems. Additionally, he brings his positive, can-do attitude to any project on which he is working. Justin graduated from University of Maryland’s MBA program, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining fusionSpan, Justin taught middle school math and worked with education nonprofits. Also, he wants you to know he loves his family.