Develop An Effective SOP For Better SCM

standard operating procedure

Effective supply chain management involves countless steps and developing a standard operating procedure (SOP) is valuable for every step. Establishing SOPs can streamline your supply chain, diminish errors, and improve productivity. Everyone in your organization—and your partner organizations—can align with an established set of consistent process instructions.

However, it’s important that you develop SOPs that align with your supply chain management. This is a good moment to revisit your overall vision and strategies. What are your customers’ needs? What are the SOPs of your supply chain partners? What changes are coming down the line? These are all important factors to consider when developing SOPs to ensure everyone is aligned and focused on the same metrics and expectations. You’ll be more likely to parlay your SOPs into satisfied customers and employees when aligned.

To establish SOPs, first determine which stakeholders and departments should be involved in the process. Query everyone to identify common problems they encounter when completing tasks and ask for their feedback on how to solve those processes. Together, write out specific instructions on how to complete the tasks/processes. Use common language for everyone, consistently format the SOPs, and don’t overlook the roles of quality and safety in the effort.

After writing up your SOPs, it’s time to roll them out to your team. When you introduce the idea of SOPs with your current employees, your goal should be buy-in and engagement. As with any change, prepare for some resistance and come ready to explain the value of the standard operating procedure. Cover the main processes and their value, summarizing key points as you go along. Emphasize the importance of establishing SOPs and the employee roles within that establishment.

The rollout should include training and education and any metrics that might accompany it. Communicate expectations for meeting the requirements and metrics, and if you can, offer incentives to those who go above and beyond the minimum expectations. Regularly audit the practices on the floor to ensure proper SOPs are followed. To ensure they are ready for prime time, take the extra step of testing your new standard operating procedure in a controlled environment.

Once you’ve established a firm set of SOPs, keep them ready for frequent reference. Add relevant resources and create a glossary of terms that make the language familiar and easy to understand. Also, consider them living documents. Procedures change as you add technology and automation, reduce, or add to your employee roster, or move to a new facility. At any major evolution, take the time to update and review your SOPs so they remain relevant. They should also be part of any new employee training to get up to speed and follow standardized procedures from the get-go. This will eliminate confusion and make their transition easier for everyone involved.

With a firm set of SOPs now the norm, your supply chain can begin experiencing the many benefits they can provide.