Tips for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP):
- 3 main factors causing business stagnation: People, Work Process, Tools.
- Do not include redundant, repetitive and things that will not provide value to the company and customers.
- ‘Over-management’ may cause unnecessary workloads and processes in the company.
Does a company that operates for a decade is considered as long service?
It may be short if the company has not reached a certain level of achievements, but it may also be considered as long because it is sufficient enough for a company to be ‘bloated’ with all kinds of traditional or heavy work processes and systems during this servicing period, which becoming stumbling blocks that limit business growth in the next 10 years.
Among our clients, there is an education center that has been operating for a decade. They focus on providing training courses about survival skills for adults and children, which makes them unique in the market.
They have won numerous awards and recognition in the past 10 years and the founders are getting more confident and passionate about expanding their business. They expanded to 3 branches gradually but the challenges and difficulties in managing the business are no joke, where the company hardly grows anymore.
That is when they approached us (3S Adviser) to seek business solutions to improve their management system, then to apply for international standard certification (ISO) and franchise license in order to manage branches and grow steadily. This is indeed a great company vision which definitely could motivate the team to work hard together towards the same goals.
So, what did we do?
Usually hidden issues emerge when a small company expands gradually. Therefore, we decided to start the “make-over” by optimizing the work processes in the company after reviewing the business flow and industry.
A 10-year-old company is similar to a house that has been lived in for more than 10 years. In fact, there will be a lot of superfluous and useless things around.
To optimize the workflow, we need to implement a good set of SOP (Standard operating procedures), which requires to standardize the work procedures that meets the below criteria:-
- Clean and simple work processes
- Valuable for the company and clients
- No repetitive/duplicates process/jobs
At the same time, we have to add the missing and incomplete ones in it. To achieve such results, it took a lot of time to continuously study and review the company’s internal operation procedures in detail.
Although it takes time to complete the task, the management is able to clearly understand what their business operating system looks like at a glance as a result.
Indeed, we would also need to analyze what are the root causes of the issues, such as human errors, improper work process and management tools, etc. These types of problems should not be handled in the same way.
Issue 1: Human Errors
For issues that happened due to human errors, a set of Code of Conduct must be compiled and implemented in the company which relates to human resource management. We have different strategies for the four major aspects of the HR system, which is recruitment, training, performance appraisal and retention.
As they are operating an education center, we need to differentiate the type between a regular university and a private institute in order to manage different groups of employees, which are administrative personnel and professionals.
Solution: Manage your employees in two ways!
As said, there will be two methods for employee management. For administrative personnel, the hiring process is a key focus as we need to source the right person to fit the role. As for professionals, we emphasize the importance of providing training since they should be trained to meet the required standards at work.
Each company has its own main focus of management so that they can stand out from the competitive market with their unique strength. As when the main focus of management has been decided, we are ready to plan the work processes to achieve the said goals.
Issue 2: Work Processes
We found that the work procedures in the company are heavy as they are being really careful and concerned about job perfection and customer satisfaction. In such, they implement complicated work processes with numerous reports and duplicate jobs.
Solution: Define management and processes from company goals
We need to review and rectify the complicated work processes whether it meets the purpose of SOP, which is to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The ultimate goal of creating work procedures is to be effective, or else it will be wasted.
To rectify the work procedures, the first thing is to follow the company’s direction and goals. The company defines itself with the goal of offering a higher level of service/price than the competitors in the market.
Secondly, we have to find out the key points of management from the operation system.
There are also 5 major aspects (purchasing and processing, quality control, shipping, customer service, marketing), and the said education center is a service provider, which does not have physical products. Thus, the ‘goods’ that they need is to provide training courses.
Those training courses need to be delivered to customers through ‘people’, therefore, the ‘purchasing’ should refer to ‘the trainer’ as they are the one who deliver the service to customers.
While recruiting/selecting the personnel, we have boldly raised the requirements and standards. This is a reasonable move, just like those high-end restaurants which only select fresh and high quality food ingredients to keep their standards and only serve good food.
Therefore, we reviewed and set the requirements by looking at a few aspects, such as professional ethics, guidelines for level upgrading and training, skill assessment test, skills strengthening and operation workshop, etc.
The education center is very cooperative. They held private discussion meetings for 2 days to sort out all these details.
Issues 3: Improper tools
Moreover, we are very concerned about “quality control”. There is a key concern for businesses that only provide services instead of selling physical goods.
For a service provider, both customer and employee are the key person and should be well prepared to deliver quality service and outcome as expected at the same time.
Solution: Fix the SOPs and say NO to ‘micro-management’!
We compiled and shared our inspection report with the client after serious review, so that the client was able to understand and grasp the ‘make-over’ progress, fix and strengthen their expectation and confidence. We also sorted out the quality control inspection report at the same time, so that they will be able to make adjustments accordingly.
The client is passionate about business management, but they often spend too much effort on it (over-managed) and are unable or unaware of subsequent corrections as necessary.
As for follow-up analysis and statistical management, we linked and set up proper SOP systems for the quality control, performance appraisal and human resource strategy for the company. The employees should follow the standardized work processes to deliver consistent outcomes, and the management could be aware of possible hiccups that might be happening here and there if they do not follow SOPs.
Of course, when we started to rectify the process, we also modified and adjusted the management tools to make the records clean and clear, the management could focus on monitoring the work operations effectively.
The client now is preparing to expand more branches in the future by following the goals and action plan set during our discussions. We sincerely look forward to their future development.
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