The Elements

By Andrea Schlapia   |   August 13, 2013

Stop Confusion With SOPs-Create Your SOP Manual In Simple Steps

Categories: Blog, Operational Effectiveness, Reports & Tracking Systems

Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images/Thinkstock

Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images/Thinkstock

What if one of your key employees didn’t return to work tomorrow? Would someone in your office be able to step in and perform their job seamlessly? Probably not, unless your office has systems and process in place.

Create clearly defined Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to streamline office functions, reduce operating costs, errors, and wasted time. SOPs will position your team for success during chaos that accompanies natural disasters, employee loss or turnover, vacations, and illness.

SOPs replicate best practices by describing detailed instructions on specific work processes. Well written operating procedures support increased performance, operational effectiveness, reduce confusion, and have a direct impact on reaching firm goals. They are a living document and need to be available to all members of the team.

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR SOP

  • Who will carry out a specific task
  • What supplies and resources are needed
  • Where the task will take place
  • When the task must be performed
  • How to complete the task

Standard Operating Procedures also provide a foundation for job descriptions, new hire and employee training, performance evaluations, and a tracking method to measure productivity.

THE BASICS – HOW TO CREATE SOPs

Writing SOPs isn’t as hard as you may think. It sounds like an overwhelming process, but the payoff is critical to your firm’s operation. Use the three simple steps below to get started.

  • Identify who will manage the project. This person will be in charge of coordinating, tracking results, implementation, and completion of the SOP manual.
  • Determine who will be involved in the process. Typically it is easiest to have each employee list every task they perform on a daily basis from start to finish. I have found it to be a manageable process by starting with daily tasks, then moving to weekly, monthly, quarterly and finally annual.
  • Finally, employees should take one task at a time and document what they do to complete the task. Download Ironstone’s SOP Template to get started –  Ironstone SOP Template

TIPPING POINTS

  • Test each SOP prior to implementation
  • Identify training or qualification requirements to complete the task
  • Identify resource materials needed
  • Schedule bi-annual or annual reviews of the SOP to identify updates, gaps or changes
  • Consider onsite and offsite storage of your SOP manual
  • Define terminology that may not be familiar to all employees
  • Upon completion, use a three-ring binder with sheet protectors to house your manual and include a table of contents

SOPs will provide clarity for your entire team and will allow employees to readily take over any specific task whether it be during vacation times or filling a vacancy within the firm.

Still need some help? Our focus is on practice management strategies to enhance and improve both business and personal life.  We support professionals who desire to make major and comprehensive improvements that examine all aspects, not just an isolated area for change.

Let us know what questions you have about strategic planning, business development, operational effectiveness, the human element at your firm, or whatever is on your mind! Leave us a comment or email the Ironstone team.


Andrea Schlapia
Organizational Development and Human Capital

Andrea Schlapia, RCC™, HCS, sHRBP, is the Founder and CEO of Ironstone, which represents the culmination of her 20+ year career within the financial services industry. Her experience began as a financial advisor evolving into a consultant coach for advisors entering the field. This ignited her passion to support others through learning and development of best practices in order to achieve substantial results. To this end, she followed her desire into positions of senior-level practice management specialists for Dreyfus, Prudential, and DWS Investments prior to the realization of Ironstone.  Andrea’s focus is on practice management strategies to enhance and improve both business and personal life.

Andrea identifies 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Through coaching sessions and speaking engagements, she captivates her audience with interactive, high-energy presentations which are built with “how-to” strategies resulting in real-world implementation for significant impact. Andrea has been featured in multiple publications and audio broadcasts as a specialist and distinguished spokeswoman in the financial industry.

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