Most organizations need help in delivering consistent, high-quality products or services. Likely, yours is no exception. An outstanding tool to help you is implementing or improving your use of Standard Operating Procedures.
What Are They?
Standard operating procedures, more commonly known as SOPs, are documented, specific strategies for your business, organization, or activities. SOP outline a set of step-by-step instructions or guidelines to help the employees or associates carry out their routine operations. By including the essential steps of a process, you equip your employees to perform their work efficiently with the quality of the work or product delivered with uniform standards.
Why Use Them?
Your business was built upon a great idea or concept. No doubt it took time to develop the idea or notion into something to your liking, but it was desirable; yes, valuable to others. So much so that they will invest their money to receive it.
Few services or products are a one-time need. In time, the client or customer must go to market and acquire repeat service or product replacement. The customer’s decision as to whether they will return to do business with your organization largely rests on the satisfaction of the initial transaction and reviews by other former customers. This circumstance is where well-designed Standard Operating Procedures can come to your aid. The SOPs will be a pillar of strength in developing and delivering consistency.
Books and movies have well-documented the story of McDonald’s and the Golden Arches. We examine this history because McDonald’s is one of the most well-known examples of an organization’s use of Standard Operating Procedures to great success. How did that happen? The organization developed SOPs that supported a system to deliver the brand and products with remarkable consistency. The hamburger may or may not be the best, but you certainly know what you will get. The extensive use of Standard Operating Procedures by McDonald’s corporation led to land acquisition, franchising standards, menu production, and community outreach in a precision manner. It is resulting in global brand recognition and loyalty.
Your business may not have such a grand vision for global dominance, but you can benefit from lessons learned in McDonald’s story. First, testing and evaluating processes before implementing them can limit exposure to losses and accelerate growth. Implementing proven procedures with accountability can lead to great consistency. Greater consistency of a quality product or service will lead to repeat business and high satisfaction ratings.
Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures
There can be many benefits to having and using well-written SOPs. Consider a few listed below:
The Standard Operating Procedure will provide necessary safety information. Protection for those completing the work will also lead to safe products to distribute to your clients or customers. Supplying your workers with safe procedures will significantly aid in training that mitigates economic loss resulting from employee accidents, fines, and litigation.
SOPs will make your results more consistent. Recall the McDonald’s story? One can argue if it is or is not the best hamburger or not, but we are confident in what we will get (according to topsecretrecipes.com):
- 1/8 pound ground beef
- One plain hamburger bun
- One tablespoon of ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced onion
- One dill pickle slice
From coast to coast, the same burger every time. Repeat business from consistent performance derived from a high-quality, accountable standard operating procedure.
This consistency will be evident in customer satisfaction, improved repeat business, and enhanced profitability.
Standard Operating Procedures can reduce waste by eliminating guesstimates out of the material used, wasted time experimenting with methods and unnecessary huddles amongst the workers discussing ways to employ.
Production often requires adherence to legal regulations, such as environmental control. Well-written, standard operating procedures can guide your team through a process designed to comply with legal requirements, safety measures, and your business policies.
Employees become frustrated with a lack of training, but training alone is not enough. The training must include clear, consistent instructions. Standard Operating Procedures remove the guesswork and provide clear how-to instructions embedded into the training program. This improved training will lead to greater employee engagement and potentially, reduced turnover. Yet, another financial benefit!
Additional Training Benefits
With Standard Operating Procedures in place, the learning curve of newly hired employees or employees learning new processes can be reduced. Repeating the same process and having documented references can greatly aid freshly hired employees in growing knowledge and confidence. In addition, they can speed up the learning curve on new methods of performing work for introducing new products or tools and how to use them.
They can reduce maintenance by curbing misuse of equipment due to lack of knowledge.
They can speed up the growth of the business when opening new locations or franchises. They will aid the duplication of the original concept or pattern of doing business.
They can speed up production by eliminating unnecessary steps.
Having defined processes can assist in holding employees accountable for job performance. The standard operating procedure will assist auditing departments by becoming a checklist of what has or has not been performed accordingly.
As discussed, the importance of Standard Operating Procedures is quite evident. The entire process will only work by implementing well-written standards with a proper set of rules and regulations.
Consistency is a derivative of duplication. Duplication comes from standard operating procedures. Every business’s long-term success will result from acquiring new business or customers and having previous customers return to do business with your organization. And because they are satisfied, they, in turn, are recommending your company to others.
Check out the following links to take the next step and begin developing well-written Standard Operating Procedures.