The 7% solution – Driving benefits – SOPs - Tip 5 -

Previous articles have provided 4 tips on practical steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your workforce. You may be well on your way to your 7% solution for increasing operational efficiency, or you may need some new tips on how to deliver real benefits?

Driving Benefits

You may not have one person in you operations team who has accountability for managing productivity and performance because very often the responsibility is written into all of your manager’s job descriptions.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it,
And Anyone could have done it
But in the end Nobody always ended up with the task.

When Nobody did it,
Somebody was angry because it was Everybody’s job.
But Everybody thought that Somebody would do it instead.
Now Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.
So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody
When Nobody did what Anybody could have done
In the first place.

You may recognise this situation. Therefore, in order to generate value from process improvement work you also need techniques to deploy that will ensure that you will drive benefit. This could mean starting the process to change behaviours, or at least re-enforcing parameters and standards of behaviours. It takes a co-ordinated effort to align management teams, and operatives, so that a consistent message on process improvement is delivered.

So I’ll continue the series by identifying 3 simple steps that can be used to support behavioural change and deliver real benefits from process improvement work, the first one being;

Standard Operating Procedures

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organisation to help workers carry out routine processes. Defining a standard method for a task helps with the aims to achieve efficiency, quality of output and uniformity of performance. Also, SOPs can reduce the risks of miscommunication and failure to comply with guidelines or regulations.

SOPs are particularly useful as a training resource. Documenting process steps in a standard form that is easily accessible provides a benchmark that everyone should be able to follow. SOPs and the processes that they describe can also be audited and regular reviews will help to maintain standards. These days you can also maintain SOPs in electronic format to provide easy access and also make them interactive to report non-conformance or other relevant issues.

The basis of an effective performance management system is the ability to define ‘what good looks like’, to document and distribute it. Process improvements need to be adopted consistently across teams in order for benefits to be realised and SOPs are an aid to getting the message across. The process of generating your SOPs will also help you to see potential process improvement areas more clearly, another helpful route towards your 7% solution.