You may be in a scenario where you’re hiring a new team member, or you might be looking to sell your business – the problem is that all of the IP, the knowledge and the information that would need to be transferred in these situations is ‘in your head’. Its not documented or recorded, and it most certainly is not safe from the ‘bus test’, that is the simple principle that knowledge should be duplicated between multiple people to avoid it being lost in the event that that one person got hit by a bus.
Whether your operation is a ‘one (hu)man band’, or relies on key team members to the extent that losing that person would significantly negatively impact your business, literally every repeated activity in a business should be recorded as a standard operating procedures (SOPs). At a basic level, SOPs represent a set of instructions that outlines the actions for a task or routine activity. The structure of an SOP should be linear, easy to follow, concise, with simple and clearly outlined steps.
Taking advantage of software and tools that this age of technology offers to make the documenting of SOPs significantly easier. The tech options will save you time and will make the SOPs more accessible compared to hard-copy. Its 2021 – we should not be looking at printed, hard copy manuals.
For one human bands, digital SOPs do not have to be stored on complex, purpose built platforms that cost thousands of dollars a year – keep it simple with videos recorded on a mobile device or screen record software and saved to ‘the cloud’ in a logical, easy to identify file structure.
For small to large enterprises, there are a vast range of software and cloud-based portals that can support the documentation and sharing of your company’s SOPs. At the very least it should be able to control access, provide alerts and notices for new and updated content, and record acknowledgement and sign off.
Regardless of whether you go hi-tech or keep it simple, consider a solution that is more than just a repository for static pdf documents that must be downloaded to be read. Because, chances are, no one will read them. Aim to use photos, videos and interactive formats as much as possible to support the written form.
What you should be doing
- Record the why, when, what and how of tasks makes it easier for someone else to get the job done.
- Keep it bite sized, concise, and easy to follow
- Take advantage of the myriad of software tools you can use for creating, housing, distributing and monitoring SOPs
- Make a list, and knock off recording a couple of SOPs each day while you’re going about your daily tasks
- Delegate the documenting to the people who do the tasks regularly
What not to do
- Assume tasks are being completed consistently, correctly, and safely
- Leave yourself vulnerable to the bus test, regardless of the size of your business
- Wait until it’s too late, be proactive about recording your SOPs