A company’s standard
operating procedures (SOPs) are not only useful when compliance audits roll
around every three years; if used correctly they can actually minimise risk and
add to business efficiency.
SOPs help run a business
more effectively because they are the company’s best practice model. Assuming
SOPs are followed consistently, compliance and good risk management are sure to
follow. However, when consistency is not an abiding factor when it comes to
following SOPs, risk is increased.
The most common reasons cited for SOPs not being used by employees are:
the correct SOPs cannot be located, employees not knowing a SOP exists, SOPs
are inaccurate and not up-to-date, or SOPs are not presented in the context of
the job so employees cannot see relevance to their role.
Accessing the correct
One of the most significant factors in workplace incidents
is employees’ inability to access up-to-date procedures and safety information. Most companies manage and present SOPsas stand-alone documents that have been written for a specific purpose and maintained individually, often by different employees across various
departments. The number of documented procedures can total hundreds or thousands
across a company, which can lead to confusion and duplication if the right SOP
cannot be found where the employee expects it to be. This can increase the level
of risk within the company.
employees should respond to incidents and changes within the workplace. However, if an employee can’t easily find and/or access SOPs, a bank of documents has little value.
Consistent, accurate and current documentation can be established with an effective
management system so all employees can
access and find the right documents that are relevant to their roles in a
The value of modelling
Modelling can help align procedures to employee roles, company systems
and equipment, making the task of finding the correct SOP much easier. A company adopting a modelling approach
commits to documenting the relationship that exists between
the safety regulation, company policy, company processes and the relevant
people for each SOP. This can be done by structuring the SOPs using information mapping because it makes them more readable and fit-for-purpose.
The operational modelof the business includes all processes, procedures, systems and compliance obligations and this acts as a single source of truth. Modelling business operations allows you to clarify all employee
responsibilities, the relationships between each role and link compliance
obligations to processes and systems.Generating SOPs from this model ensures there
is no duplication across different departments or for different purposes.
Additionally, modelling SOPs would help to understand the workplace impact when regulations change, including what needs to be documented regarding those changes.
Taking risk seriously
Companies must practice what they preach when it comes to risk management because if they are seen to consider safety to be only a compliance issue, employees will take on that attitude and it will affect the culture.
SOPs can help manage risk as well as drive productivity, manage costs and ensure compliance. However, for SOPs to be an effective
business tool, they must be easily accessible
for all employees from one source, updated regularly and be consistent across the whole company. A modelling approach, coupled with a central information source, makes SOPs more useable and relevant for all employees and decreases risk.
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