Standard operating procedures aren’t just a way for businesses to cover their legal bases; SOPs have proven time and time again that a simple checklist can be an agent of transformation. In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande describes how his standard operating procedure checklist did precisely that, changing the surgical landscape for the better. Atul understood the complexity of surgery, and he also understood the excruciatingly high stakes. So, he introduced a nineteen-point surgical checklist to eight hospitals, and six months later, post-surgical complications had dropped by thirty-six percent. A checklist is a powerful tool.
Of course, saving lives isn’t the only role for checklists; many companies have seen the dramatic effects of a standard operating procedure checklist on their productivity as well. When everyone knows how to complete tasks in the best possible way, and they can do so consistently, employees can work with confidence, clarity, and efficiency. The catch is that SOP management has traditionally been a time-consuming and strenuous ordeal, but with the right software, businesses can create, track, and reap the benefits of SOP checklists with ease.
What The Standard Operating Procedure Checklist Entails
What your standard operating procedure checklist needs will vary greatly depending on the industry, the relevant regulations, and the specific procedure in question. However, there are a few key components to include across the board:
The heading is the first part of the checklist readers will see; accordingly, it should cover all essential document information, such as the procedure’s name, document number, creation date, version number, author, who approved it, and the date to review.
This section covers the changes to the document that have been made, including the revision numbers, authors, and dates.
The intent section briefly describes the purpose of the standard operating procedure, giving a solid explanation as to why the SOP needs to exist and describing how it ties to the business’s goals, mission, or values.
The scope piece of the SOP explains who the procedure applies to, which could span anywhere from one individual to the entire organization.
A standard operating procedure checklist often contains industry-specific terms and abbreviations in order to keep the document concise. However, some employees, especially new hires, may not be familiar with the terminology. By including a section with definitions of terms used throughout the checklist, you can rest assured that everyone has the information they need to follow it without a hitch.
Equipment and Supplies
This section lays out the physical equipment one needs to complete the procedure, preventing people from starting over after realizing too late that they don’t have what they need.
Finally, we get to the procedure itself. While SOP’s can come in many different forms (flow chart, diagram, etc.), in a standard operating procedure checklist, this section is formatted as a list of steps in a standard operating procedure checklist. Depending on the complexity of the task at hand, some of the steps may have additional sub-steps giving further detail about how to complete the checklist item.
The Benefits Of A Standard Operating Procedure Checklist
Even if it’s accidental, noncompliance can put a company in a difficult position – especially if the process in question could pose a safety risk, involves finances, or is subject to governmental regulation. That presents a big issue for companies operating without SOPs; they’re requiring employees to rely on memory, and human memory is notoriously flawed. What’s more, there are often multiple routes one could take to complete an assignment, and just because you end up in the same place doesn’t mean that was the best way to get there. A SOP checklist allows you to describe precisely how to go about a task, guaranteeing that everyone is following best practices and no one is accidentally violating the law.
Gaining familiarity with anything new takes time. Not only do SOPs detail best practices, but they also make it far easier for employees to pick up on a new process. With a SOP checklist, employees who are still learning can focus on the task itself instead of placing all of their efforts on remembering the steps. This allows managers to delegate processes without worrying too much about mistakes; they can rest assured that those completing the task will do so exactly as they would.
How Checklists Boost Productivity
Following best practices inherently boosts productivity; they’re called best practices for a reason. However, that’s not the only way a standard operating procedure checklist can improve productivity.
Better Task Management
A student would be ill-advised to start their night by preparing for a quiz scheduled in two weeks if it leaves no time to study for a test the next day; running a business without task management is essentially doing the same thing. Productivity is about more than just crossing items off the to-do list; it’s about getting the important things done. That’s the role of task management. Task managers determine which activities are the highest priority, set deadlines, and assign tasks to the appropriate employees. A standard operating procedure checklist ensures that business activities are completed consistently, making it far easier to trace those activities from start to finish. In doing so, task managers can gain the insights necessary to build a more efficient workflow, one that organizes activities in a way that makes sense.
Mistakes are common in the workplace. A study by Identity Guard found that the average American makes 118 mistakes at work every year. Some of these errors are unavoidable; forgotten meetings, typos, and misplaced decimals do happen. According to Cision, 66% of U.S. employees have made mistakes at work simply because they were tired. However, errors in standardized procedures are almost entirely preventable; with a standard operating procedure checklist, you have a step-by-step set of instructions as a guide.
Reducing error is a benefit of standard operating procedures on its own, but fewer mistakes also means less time is wasted correcting course. And the less time a company spends fixing unnecessary errors, the more time employees have to do the real work – the work that propels the company forward.
Make Your Own Standard Operating Procedure Checklist With Compliancebridge
Creating and Maintaining SOPs With Compliancebridge
With ComplianceBridge, managers can set up automated workflows, making the creation of SOP checklists simpler, faster, and more intuitive. Our platform even offers automatic reminders and expiration dates to ensure that no standard operating procedure checklist goes without regular review (or becomes obsolete).
When the SOP is ready to go, the creator can share it for approval with whomever they choose, whenever they choose. And to make life a little easier in the long run, once you’ve created one checklist, you can use the workflow as a template for others.
Accessing SOPs With Compliancebridge
To make the process as easy as possible for employees, managers can send checklists directly to specific individuals, groups, or departments, guaranteeing that those the SOP is intended for receive it. Of course, a standard operating procedure checklist is only helpful when all relevant parties can access it, and to ensure they’re always able to, ComplianceBridge offers a public portal. There, employees can view the most recent version of the document (from anywhere with internet access), and if they’d like to see the changes between multiple iterations, they can do so on command.
Ready To Get Started?
There are many ways to go about making a standard operating procedure checklist, each with its own set of benefits. However, by streamlining SOP creation and providing tools to manage their life cycles, ComplianceBridge can significantly improve the process. Thinking of revamping your standard operating procedures? Request a demo with ComplianceBridge today!