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SOPs that Stick: 4 Steps to Ensure Adherence to Process Documentation

review_papersProperly documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the mark of a reliable business. Well-established processes that are followed consistently can improve product quality, ease turnover costs, minimize product and safety liability, and improve your brand.

In short, SOPs are a necessary part of managing risk for your business. Especially in the medical device field where audits are routine, incomplete reporting or missing paperwork can cost you.

It is not enough simply to have SOPs. As a business leader, you must make sure that your team is fully aware of the procedures and follows them consistently. Here are some tips for ensuring that your employees are on board:

4 Steps to Encourage Adherence to SOPs

1. Training

Training for SOPs involves more than simply reading the procedures out loud. Well-designed training targeted at adult learning includes hands-on opportunity, where employees use the process as documented, and interactivity, where their questions are addressed, to ensure that they know what will be required of them. 

Be sure to ask for employee signoff that you’ve read and discussed the procedures; this signoff will go into their personnel training records.

2. Visibility

Posters, laminated cards, and other on-the-spot tactics make sure that the SOPs can be easily viewed by your staff. Company intranets or extranets are also ways to ensure the standard operating procedures live where they work. Employees will be more likely to remember and follow the procedures if they’re in plain sight.

3. Measurement

Make SOPs part of the employee review process. If you assess individuals based on their use of the procedures, they will be more inclined to use them. Ensure that employees know how your key performance metrics, like zero defects, tie to the use of your process documentation. 

4. Frequency

Because needs and requirements change frequently, you will want to update and redistribute your SOP documentation regularly. Although it might seem cumbersome to print and replace process documentation often, it’s also an opportunity to remind your staff and raise visibility of the SOPs.

It also helps to remind employees that processes do change regularly, reassuring them that management views these procedures as critical and is therefore continuously updating them. Whether these updates are marked as *NEW* on the company intranet or presented as a fresh set of printed SOPs for employee binders, they help ensure re-reading and adherence to key process documentation.

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Topics: Process documentation, SOPs