Consistency, with a hint of flexibility – the key to successful SOPs | Macro

Consistency, with a hint of flexibility – the key to successful SOPs

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By Aishling O'Connor, Facilities Co-ordinator, Macro North America

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is one of the key components in delivering Facilities Management (FM) across multiple sites and countries, helping to create consistency and standardization.  They are the go-to baseline for new team members, helping people to understand processes, maintaining business continuity, and ensuring that companies get the best possible experience from their FM provider. 

But the FM industry is ever-changing and in a constant state of flux.  If it isn’t people’s opinions, it’s the environment that we find ourselves in that is continuously evolving around us.  Add to that the nuanced requirements for each location, and the SOP, which should be a ‘standard’ in the continuous flow of changes, can easily become outdated and restrictive. 

So how do we make the most out of the standard operating procedure? 

1. Keep them simple. A dense read is never the way to go. However, there are some basic requirements that every SOP should contain as a minimum:

  • The objectives of the SOP, a definition of acronyms, a list of the responsible individuals, and details of procedures, with attachments of examples, if applicable.
  • Reference relevant legislation, guidance and regulations, e.g. health, safety and environmental issues.
  • SOPs should be signed by the operation's director to provide authority. It should also be dated to show that the SOP is aligned with organizational policies.

2. Take local needs into account. Whilst it's important to achieve a level of standardization, it is better when the SOP takes the specific requirements of each location into account. For example, in some cities it will be appropriate to accompany a guest out onto the street and hail a taxi, whereas elsewhere it will be customary to telephone ahead for a car service. These 'localizations' can then be fed into the Local Operating Procedures (LOPs).

3. Let the documents live and breathe. As new practices are learned, the SOPs and LOPs need to be updated (via version control), otherwise they will quickly become outdated, lose their value, and the wrong inconsistencies will creep into how services are delivered. Train teams to make them their go-to reference for procedures, update them when necessary, and carry out an annual review to ensure compliance with ISO standards.

These simple, yet vital steps will ensure that when delivering an international service, it can be truly standardized with just the right hint of flexibility.

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