Suppose you have created a bunch of internal SOPs for your organization. Now it’s time to deploy them. What should be your next steps? Perhaps you thought you’d be done when your SOP is ready.
Nope, not even close. Now you have to think of an SOP distribution plan. Effective instructions are useless if they’re not properly communicated to the users. Building a clear process for everyone involved is crucial because selecting the "optimal approach" for any procedure can be quite subjective and personal.
Otherwise, it can turn your profitable corporate strategy to dust.
Why is SOP distribution important?
Employees shouldn't go through multiple communication channels before receiving the required information. People must constantly have access to relevant information. Obviously, different employees need access to different SOPs depending on the content.
An SOP distribution plan ensures just that. Besides, there are quite a few reasons how they help an organization:
- Ensures proper adoption of procedures: As processes improve, operational procedures are updated, requiring new training with each update. SOPs provide a way to communicate process changes to your employees. They contribute to a holistic understanding of responsibilities and help boost engagement and productivity.
- Reduces knowledge gap among employees: Of course, an SOP is important to pass on information among different departments of the same organization. Unwritten knowledge and skills fade from the workplace as people move within and between companies. A well-maintained and documented SOP can record the best experiences for new hires as older employees transition.
- Guarantees processes continue uninterrupted: So there are no errors in processes, following SOP's procedures ensures the exact steps outlined are followed the same way each time. Plus, it reduces inefficiencies in the entire system.
- Makes information accessible: Distributing SOPs among employees properly means they have everything they need to complete their work. This lets the organization streamline and standardize document creation by storing documents and assets / content in one place.
Getting all the SOPs to the right people promptly and efficiently can greatly improve employee information retention and compliance and reduce workload in the long run. The idea of sorting and organizing so many details can easily become overwhelming and tiring.
But fear not, we have the perfect SOP distribution plan for you, along with some tools for creating SOPs.
How to outline an SOP distribution plan
SOPs alone cannot ensure outstanding performance or positive outcomes. They’re not an end-all and be-all solution. Generally, they’re used to support the right individuals in the right setting.
They help you evaluate more than just what you're doing right now and decide how to proceed. But how to ensure your SOPs are being properly implemented?
Well, that depends on how you go about the SOP distribution plan.
Step #1: Identify the budget & resources needed
This can be a large undertaking for your organization and shouldn’t be treated as simply a paper-out process. So a well-defined decision-making process should be considered.
Think about what format you’d like to use to disseminate your documents. It can be paper-based or digital, according to how modern your organization is. Rolling out new documentation means deciding where to invest internally. So sit down with your team and map out what process would work best for you.
Step #2: Determine the right audience
Not every SOP needs to be distributed to all employees or only to specific departments or specific employees. New hires should have a company-wide SOP that applies to all employees. Scheduled training may require different SOPs depending on the variety of training programs.
If different people have different SOP requirements, track information such as: the department within the company, job title within each department, contact information, etc. Identify who’ll be in charge of supplying the documentation also. This way, you can track whether the information has been transferred.
Step #3: Get all your SOPs in one place
The benefit of having a distribution plan is you can store all your documents for a specific program in a centralized data system. This breaks down the data silos in each department so everyone has all the information in one place.
Step #4: Roll out the SOPs
Depending on the size of your company, simply distribute paper copies of your SOPs to employees who need to be briefed on specific process steps. This way, employees have a printed copy for easy reference. Depending on how often you access the SOP, it may be useful to have a hard copy. However, when the SOP is updated, the paper copy quickly becomes obsolete.
If the document requires a wider audience, send it through an email distribution list on the company's email server. On the other hand, e-mail communication problems and email delivery also pose a problem when storing SOPs for easy access.
Companies with multiple departments can consider using a workflow portal or document storage program. The advantage of using a system is you have a digital history of how the document was distributed and a simple, automated process for sending the document to your employees. Plus, the latest version can be found on the portal.
Scribe can be the perfect tool to create and update your SOPs. You can generate a step-by-step guide within seconds and edit it later.
Here’s a tutorial made with Scribe Pages on how you can use Google Sheets for data analysis:
Best practices for effectively distributing SOPs
Once you map out how you’re distributing these SOPs, nothing is stopping you. Except that SOPs quickly become obsolete as processes constantly evolve to become more efficient.
In that case, how can you start distribution more reliably?
- Inform employees when a new SOP is ready: Send a message to all relevant staff to let them know your SOP is available and they’re expected to follow up. If they aren’t notified, they might likely miss out on key information about their job.
- Confirm if employees have received the SOP: When working with SOPs, ensure the information has been passed on and read by the right audience. There’s no point in having a document if there’s no way to verify that it has been read. To receive positive confirmation, they have read it. Paper receipts are great for small businesses. If electronic receipts are more compatible, request read receipts in your email.
- Create specific pages with access permissions: Employees should always have access to what they need. Know where each department or employee's information goes, and you can easily distribute content by simply placing it in your system and granting access as needed. Reducing some cross-referencing work.
- Take input regarding distribution method: The ideal goal is to enable employees to read, understand and follow the SOPs in their daily work. If they can’t access their SOPs properly, that can limit their performance. In that case, their feedback on the system's effectiveness can help improve the distribution model. So that, next time, you can choose the best format for your SOPs.
Distributing SOPs can be a difficult task. But with a little understanding of who needs what, organizing content, and implementing established processes, things can be less stressful.
Better distribution of SOPs can benefit your organization
Everyone needs the training to familiarize themselves with the new SOPs. This reduces misunderstandings and disagreements in the workplace. An easy way is to create a Scribe within seconds.
You can automatically generate a step-by-step guide along with screenshots, links and clicks. You can also edit it later. Reviewing and updating SOPs are also quite necessary, be it on a timely basis.
Here’s what one of our users has to say:
It’s no secret that Scribe is the best when creating, implementing and distributing SOPs.