When John Warrilow, world-renown author and founder of The Value Builder System*, comments on something it’s worth taking notice.
In a recent presentation, John described Standard Operating Procedures as the foundation of a business that is built to sell. Amongst other things, they provide the following for a business-:
- The secret to happy customers – by helping to provide your customers with a consistent experience
- Minimise the owner’s time spent problem solving – SOPs allow owners to pre-empt most questions employees ask resulting in less staff interruptions therby freeing up much needed business owner time to tackle other challenges.
- Help to train confident employees – SOPs give employees clear instructions on what main tasks make up their jobs.
- Increase the value of the company – by giving an acquirer more confidence that the business will continue to survive without the owner.
So if documenting your Standard Operating Procedures really does;
- increase the value of your business,
- improve profitability from greater efficiencies and productivity and
- give the owner much needed time to focus on other things,
then why do some owners not invest the time required to put these SOPs in place? From my experience, it comes down to two things, time and money, and fundamentally, knowing where and how to start.
Anecdotally there is enough evidence to support an argument that the documentation of key processes and procedures will increase productivity and efficiencies which in turn will flow through to improved profitability. It’s also clear that any time spent documenting key processes and procedures now will be rewarded threefold in the future. That takes care of the time and money obstacles.
As to how and where to start here are the Seven Secrets for creating Standard Operating Procedures that John Warrilow advises will stand the test of time in your business.
- Use Video – If a picture says a 1000 words then a video is worth a million. By creating processes and training material in video format staff will enjoy the learning process and be more likely to retain the information. Such content can be supported by written documentation
- Keep your SOPs short – show your employees how you want them to perform a specific task. If you need more than two minutes break your instructions up into shorter video clips.
- One touch – the best SOPs are structured so that an individual only touches the process once.
- No double data entry – if a SOP requires entering data make sure that a single piece of data or field is only populated once and by a single person.
- Clear roles and responsibilities – when designing SOPs make sure it is clear who is responsible for each step.
- Make SOPs available where employees need them the most – ideally your SOPs should be cloud based and appear where your employees do their work so they can access them just in time without having to sift through a massive Google drive or Dropbox folder.
- Solicit help from Process experts: – just like Finance, Health and Safety and HR, SOPs are now an expertise in their own right. Experts from companies like New Zealand’s Bedrock provide guidance around templates, structures and frameworks which help make such an exercise less daunting
Increasingly I am hearing the message from business owners that they’re working too hard for fewer rewards. The more I research documenting SOPs the more I am convinced that if business owners invested the time they currently spend answering queries from their staff into documenting these processes, the quicker they would regain that lost time to use on more meaningful things in life
The benefits of putting some extra effort over the next few months into starting this process will quickly become apparent, while the longer-term benefits will continue to accrue as these SOPs are developed and introduced.
*The Value Builder System is a cloud-based assessment tool that helps build the value of a company. It has helped more than 55,000 business owners improve their company’s value by up to 71 percent.