Nowadays it seems as though every workplace and industry is dominated by regulations and compliance of one kind or another – perhaps it’s from central government and governing bodies, or it could be industry best practice. And so whilst having standard operating procedures (SOPs) may well be essential to ensure compliance and protect the safety of both workers and customers and be a useful way to transfer organizational knowledge, SOPs can also be a bureaucratic nightmare to administer. They tend to be long and complicated documents which makes them inaccessible and unwieldy to use. How can an organization manage its SOPs to get all the great benefits without the administrative headache? Well, help is at hand in the shape of the company intranet. Let’s find out how company intranets can support the management of SOPs in your business.
What Do SOPs Do?
In simple terms, SOPs are written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity. Any SOP aims to ensure consistency so that all operations are carried out correctly and in exactly the same way. SOPs can be written as voluntary guidelines and best practices or as regulations that may form part of a compliance regime.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that SOPs are standard practice in safety-critical industries in particular. They are commonplace in clinical research and practice, safety and health, as well as the food and beverage industry. However, many businesses have also gone down the SOP route as they see their value in terms of knowledge management and the transfer of knowledge within a company. And so, if a crucial member of staff were to leave, having an SOP in place means that the organization still retains the knowledge and expertise of that staff member.
What Are SOPs?
In most companies, SOPs are housed on a file server, or they take the form of printed paper manuals. Often they are cumbersome files with hundreds of pages and lots of detail. What’s more, there can be several SOPs in operation in any one organization. By way of example, here at MyHub, we recently came across a customer who had 400 different printed SOP manuals across their business, with some being updated on a weekly basis. The mechanics involved in keeping them up to date were almost mindboggling. The company was having to print off the revised pages and physically put them into the manuals. The whole process was very labor-intensive and time-consuming, making it a costly expense to the business.
How A Company Intranet Can Help
Better Management And Organization
An intranet makes it easier for you to manage and organize the SOPs within your business. Storing all these files in one central intranet platform accessible to all staff makes it easier for the right people to find the right information at the right time. And the intranet’s intuitive menu, easy site navigation, and advanced search functionality mean that the relevant SOP and the correct section can be quickly and easily located at the right time by the staff member.
And a great advantage of the intranet is that the information is accessible 24/7 from any location via a smartphone or tablet. And so not only are your employees able to access SOPs during an out-of-hours emergency for example, they can also check key information when working remotely on-site or whilst out on the road.
It’s much easier to keep a single file on the intranet updated than it is multiple copies of SOPs held either in a number of separate shared folders across the business or in paper manuals. Therefore, your employees can have absolute confidence that the SOP on the intranet is the very latest version. And as a business, you can have increased confidence that the potential for costly errors due to outdated or incorrect standards is minimized.
In a workplace that’s increasingly dominated by reporting and compliance, SOPs are becoming closely linked to automated forms that report on adherence to the SOP. An automated form can bring the SOP to life with, for example, a checklist of requirements that is ticked off every day and automatically recorded. Safety and health is a great example of an area where procedures need to be followed without errors being introduced. And if this is managed through an automated form, then there is less chance of the process being followed veering off course.
In organizations where the SOPs have become overly complicated and unwieldy, there’s a risk that they are buried and ignored. Utilizing the intranet’s automated forms or compliance reporting on who has or hasn’t read the latest SOP update are both good ways to get around this problem and help to ensure SOPs are kept alive and relevant within the workplace.
Knowledge Management And Transfer
SOPs are an excellent way to manage and transfer organizational knowledge. Verbally passing on information between manager and employee, or worse still keeping knowledge in the heads of just a few key personnel, is a recipe for disaster. How much easier is it to onboard new staff members with SOPs? And how much simpler is it to offboard personnel by documenting their knowledge of business processes in a step-by-step SOP? When it comes to a systematic and comprehensive knowledge management strategy, SOPs are an integral aspect. The intranet makes it easier to manage, organize, and access all that company knowledge.
Intranets For Effective SOP Management
There’s no doubt about it. SOPs are an essential part of the business landscape. They help companies to ensure consistency, uniformity and compliance. They are also a great way to manage and transfer organizational knowledge. SOPs are, however, potentially cumbersome and difficult to manage. Make sure your business realizes the great benefits on offer with SOPs by using the intranet to organize them effectively. Having made the initial investment in setting up a series of SOPs, it’s important to get the most out of them. And the intranet is the perfect tool for doing so.
Interested in finding out about how intranets can help your business manage its SOPs more effectively? Then get in touch with us here at MyHub for an informal discussion or try out our cloud intranet software in a no-obligation demo or 14-day free trial.