Standard Operating Procedures don't fix anything. We admit that this is kind of a strange philosophy for a company to have - especially when that company's primary focus is writing them. But it's true, we believe that SOPs, as they are typically referrred to, don't fix anything on their own. A stack of procedures that is never used is a waste of time and money. That being said, when SOPs are embraced as the playbook for how the company operates, SOPs become the cornerstone for nearly every type of improvement that can be made within the organization. Training employees, improving communication, tracking financials, rolling out new products/services, selecting vendors, and so many more things are optimized through the use of the humble Standard Operating Procedure.
So if SOPs are so great, why doesn't every company use them? And why do they get such a bad rap? The best way to answer these questions is to first take a step back and think about the life cycle of the SOP in a small growing business. When the company is new, there isn't enough time to get everything done and the company owners are working their tails off filling the roles of employee, managers and owners. As time goes on and the company becomes more successful, the owners bring on additional employees to help with the workload. The owners work closely to train the new employees so they can work side by side without much direct supervision. Success drives company growth and managers are brought in. Eventually, the company realizes that SOPs are needed. The best qualified people to write the SOPs are usually managers and this is especially difficult to do if they are busy working alongside the employees. Since the company needs it, however, sacrifices are made and SOPs are written. It is a major undertaking and it is a big relief for the authors when they are finished. Time passes, company structure changes, and employees figure out how to do things better. SOPs aren't updated because updates are low on the priority list. "The company was able to get through yesterday and today without an SOP update, it will be good enough for one more day." Unfortunately this statement can be true for several weeks, months, or even years.
Instead of seeing SOPs as a useful set of instructions of how to get something done, employees view obsolete SOPs as an obstacle to getting their job done. At some point, a new employee is brought onboard and their orientation involves training with outdated SOPs. The person doing the training is likely to say something like, "We don't use the SOPs since they're all out of date. Here, let me show you how we really do it." At this point, people are no longer using SOPs as the company playbook. Managers know that an SOP overhaul is necessary, but the memory of the pain endured from the last rewrite is real. Besides, the company was able to get through yesterday and today without an SOP update, it will be good enough for one more day...
Efficient Documents was founded on the belief that, similar to IT, accounting, legal, and payroll, procedure authoring is an essential element of a successful small business that can be outsourced. Our goal is to create and maintain operating procedures cheaper, faster, and easier than companies can do themselves. Our process is actually very simple. After working with your company to determine what procedures will be developed, we visit your location and witness the procedure. You will essentially "train" us how you would train a new employee being hired to do the job. We will record what happens and ask questions. That's it. We will come back to you with a concise and accurate draft prepared using best practices for document organization.
We are not going to tell you how to run your core business. Our main job is to translate the activities in your organization into written documents that can be used to get everyone in your company on the same page, literally. If you are interested in understanding best practices for developing a Standard Operating Procedure or how to manage the organization of training records, we will be happy to help. But we are not going to tell you how to run your business.
A side effect of not telling our clients how to run their business is that there is a built-in layer of confidentiality - because we don't tell people how they should operate we also don't tell people how other people manage their businesses. Since we don't sell advice, we aren't incentivized to learn the recipe for the secret sauce from one company so we can sell it to the next.
There are many talented business consultants in the state. Many of them offer an extensive, sometimes unrelated, menu of services to their clients. Efficient Documents focuses exclusively on writing procedures. It's all we do and we are good at it.
We leverage reliable, economical cloud service providers to create, maintain and distribute procedures. We believe that cloud applications have reached a level of maturity that levels the playing field for smaller companies to get the level of access previously only available to large companies with dedicated IT and quality assurance departments.