Standard Operating Procedures - Advice and example wanted

V

VijayMaldini

#1
Greetings

I am working in a small manufacturing company. It has got some 10 to 20 operators working on the floor.There are 5 simple process involved in the manufacturing. I would like to create SOPs for all the processes, for cleaning and housekeeping, Material and Inventory storage etc. I am looking for templates for a simple SOP. Can anybody help with this?
It would be great If I have a lot of templates with me. It's not about choosing the best among the templates I have, but its about learning a lot more about Standard Operating Procedures.

Thanks in advance
 
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howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#2
Re: Standard Operating Procedures

Have you done a search on the post attachments here?

Here's one searching for the term SOP: Post Attachments list search for SOP

You can do your own search by clicking on the post attachment list in the page header above. You might try variations like "work instruction" or "procedure" also.
 
N

NumberCruncher

#3
Re: Standard Operating Procedures

Hi Vijay

A few pointers.

1) You won't write an SOP correctly first time around. It is an iterative process.
Write your first draft, then give the SOP to someone who doesn't normally do the job and tell them to get on with it. For safety reasons, you may not want them to actually go 'hands on'. Someone from Accounts may not be too safe to use a gas welding kit without training.

2) Follow them around and write on your first draft of the SOP, every problem that the person encounters.
Don't take anything as "He's just being awkward". If they can't follow your instructions, the problem is your instructions. "Where is the machine located?" (In the machine shop). "What does it look like?" (Here is a photo). "Where is the on/off switch?" (Here is another photo). "I pushed the On button but it didn't start, why?" (There is an isolator switch on the wall which is always turned off at the end of the shift)
And so on, and on, and on...

3) Make a new draft of the SOP and repeat the above exercise with a different employee.
For practical reasons, you may only be able to try out your first draft on a real person. However, you will be more able to see your instructions from someone else's point of view. You can then try to follow your own instructions following the basic rule, "If it isn't written down, don't do it. If it is written down, do it."

3) If possible, get the people who actually do the job to write the instructions. They are doing the job every day and probably know more about it than you do.

A classic exercise is to write down the instructions for making a cup of tea, then get someone else to follow them exactly as written. It's a good group exercise if you intend to get your factory floor staff to do some of the writing. Everyone gets a chance to look foolish (including you) and everyone gets to see just how difficult it is to write good instructions. It's a good exercise even if you are the only person doing the writing.

My own personal suggestions.
a. Use photos.
b. Lists of instructions are good for simple tasks.
c. Flow diagrams are good for complex tasks with lots of "if A happens do B, unless C is true, in which case use procedure D'. They are, however, very time consuming to draw and debug.
d. Remember point 1) at the top of this post. You and your employees will not do this right first time.
e. Be patient. it won't be a quick couple of days work. It may well take weeks.
f. Try to do the "How to make a cup of tea" exercise. It really is very useful.

And finally, if the above post doesn't quite make sense, or work as a way to start the process of writing SOPs, remember, writing instructions is an iterative process and I won't get it right first time...

NumberCruncher
 
A

amanbhai

#4
The same practice we do in writing our SOPs. It is not always the 1st time when we write our SOPs. Sometimes its an auditor who becomes source for improving the effectiveness of the SOPs.
 
J

JaneB

#5
Do you really need a SOP for cleaning? For housekeeping? Unless you mean different things by these terms, I can't see the need.

Why not just have a checklist or even 'before' and 'after' photos?
 

harry

Super Moderator
#6
M

Markaich

#7
Do you really need a SOP for cleaning? For housekeeping? Unless you mean different things by these terms, I can't see the need.

Why not just have a checklist or even 'before' and 'after' photos?
Absolutely.

I also take issue with earlier advice suggesting that you test the SOP with someone who doesn't normally do the job. The people who can really test you SOP are the people who doe the job...in fact, they should be the authors of the SOP. They are the ones best placed to know how the job is done (not 'blue sky' thinkers sitting at a desk).

The days when SOPs, Procedures, Work Instructions (call them what you will) were designed to be used by the person 'off the street' are long gone, we prefer to use competent people, who have a degree of implicit knowledge about the work being carried out.

As JaneB says, use checklists as aide memoire and photos to save the 1000 words...generally much more acceptatble to the people who need them...and the people who should write and maintain them.

M
 
T

The Specialist

#8
Absolutely.

... and photos to save the 1000 words...generally much more acceptatble to the people who need them...and the people who should write and maintain them.

M
I strongly agree with this.
Photos or other illustrations are extremely useful and succinct.
Other visual aids, such as flow-diagrams are also helpful.
 
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