Standard operating procedures describe the steps that employees must take to complete a task consistently. A success-ful SOP begins well before you pencil out the details.

“Advance planning greatly increases the chance of success with standard operating procedures,” says Rich Stup, Pennsylvania State University human resources specialist. To get the most out of your SOPs, answer these questions during the planning stage:

  • How will performance improve once the SOP is in place? Set challenging but achievable goals for employees to achieve from the task outlined in the SOP.
  • How will I monitor performance to determine whether employees are following the SOP, and to collect feedback to measure how employees are doing?
  • How will I monitor results to know if the SOP itself is properly designed and is effective? Here, you need to look into your records for clearly mea-surable areas. Some are easier to identify than others such as mortality rate, farrowing rate, nonproductive-sow days. You’re looking for areas that provide a cause-and-effect measurement.
  • What type of format will I use to write the SOP? There are many ways to organize an SOP. For example, you can use a simple set of steps for repetitive tasks such as baby-pig processing procedures.
  • How will I get everyone to buy into the SOP?

Stup reminds you, however, that you don’t have to tackle this task by yourself. There are many employee management services, consultants and university specialists who can lend a hand.