How Can Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Help with Continuous Improvement Initiatives?

How Can Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Help with Continuous Improvement Initiatives?

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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How Can Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Help with Continuous Improvement Initiatives?

Even though standard operating procedures (or SOPs for short) tend to have a poor reputation in certain workplaces, they can actually be a very powerful tool for defining a set of sound rules and guidelines for the way everything in your company is done. If you’re striving for continuous improvement, defining a good set of SOPs should be one of the first things you do.

Of course, writing a good SOP is easier said than done, and it takes some getting used to before you’ll be able to produce material that truly makes sense. Once you get there though, you’ll find that the introduction of these policies – as long as everyone observes them, of course – will have a very positive impact on the way your business is run.

You Need a Consistent Level of Quality

Your company will never truly improve if you don’t maintain a good level of quality on a regular basis, and this can be hard to achieve if your operations are not clearly defined. Deviating from the optimal set of steps is one of the main reasons for inconsistent output quality, and preventing that can be as simple as making sure that all rules and regulations of the organization are clearly defined and written down in a concise way.

You may also need to set some procedures in place to verify the output quality more efficiently, and SOPs can help you out with that as well. When everyone knows exactly how to verify whether their results are good or not, there should be no excuses for poor performance.

The Organization Can Become More Flexible

A common misconception about SOPs is that they restrict creativity and make everything monotonous. Some organizations are afraid of implementing them due to the perception that they will make their operations less open to creative input, when the real situation is in fact quite the opposite. Once SOPs are in place, you’ll likely find that people are more inclined to share their input on the current state of affairs, and you’ll see more suggestions for improvements from all across the board.

Easier Integration of New Employees

Another common problem for companies following continuous improvement practices is that they often run into problems with a large influx of new employees once the organization starts to perform significantly better. This can sometimes be quite problematic, and it’s a problem that can significantly undermine the productivity of the company for a long time.

When your work is based on standard operating procedures, new employees will be able to get into their work much more easily, as they will have all their necessary training materials readily available. On the other hand, they will also be able to receive input from their peers more easily, as everyone will be on the same page with regards to how certain things should be done.

You will avoid the standard problem of everyone having their own idea of how something needs to work, and trying to argue with others over that. This, in turn, can provide a great boost to the morale of the organization, and create a much more relaxed working environment that promotes productivity.

Easier Tracking of Faults

And of course, when everything is standardized, finding the root cause of a particular problem tends to get much easier. You won’t have to play the dreaded guessing game trying to figure out why something came up, and instead you’ll just have to trace over the steps that were carried out and how they deviated from the standard procedure.

In this context, they can be a very powerful tool that can do a lot for your organization, and even if there is some negativity against it in your ranks at the moment, you should definitely consider implementing them.

Conclusion

Standard operating procedures are one of the best ways to boost the productivity of an organization and ensure that it’s always moving in the direction of continuous improvement. When applied correctly, they can completely transform the way processes are carried out, and ensure that your company will never fall off its optimal track at any point.

 

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Original: http://www.shmula.com/how-can-standard-operating-procedures-sops-help-with-continuous-improvement-initiatives/24141/
By: Shmula Contributor
Posted: October 1, 2017, 3:43 pm

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