Standard operating procedures (SOPs) outline the step-by-step processes of completing a routine task. SOPs are like maps that direct employees and teams through the stages of a project, facilitating a streamlined workflow and ensuring that each step is performed correctly. In this article we will discuss the benefits of standard operating procedures. We will also discuss digital standard operating procedures and the associated benefits. SOPs are useful across industries, but in this article, we will focus on manufacturing, the industry where SOP’s can have the greatest impact. 

Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures are popular in the manufacturing industry, but there are still tons of manufacturers that are not on board yet. We all know the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but in the business world, companies that are constantly looking for ways to improve are the companies that thrive and grow. Implementing standard operating procedures can transform a company that is doing fine into a well-oiled machine. SOPs improve output, save companies money, and create a positive work environment—let’s dive into the details. These are the top 7 benefits of standard operating procedures in the manufacturing industry. 

1) Consistency & Quality Control

Quality control is of utmost importance in the manufacturing industry. Mistakes are costly and a company’s reputation relies on their ability to consistently turn out products that meet the standards of their customers. Standard operating procedures leave little room for error and eliminate deviations in the workflow. By following a consistent set of guidelines, a manufacturer will produce a consistent product. 

2) Increased Productivity

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but they aren’t equally efficient. SOPs increase productivity by identifying the best practices and implementing them across the board. By establishing the most efficient way as the only way to perform a given task, productivity is maximized.  

3) Allows for Employee Autonomy

Nobody likes to be micro-managed, but without standard operating procedures micromanagement can be a necessary evil. Standard operating procedures allow for employee autonomy while still ensuring that tasks are completed properly. SOPs provide employees with all the information they need to complete a task. They enable workers to perform tasks independently and confidently, which also increases job satisfaction. 

4) Reduced Stress

Every job has its challenges, but constant stress makes a job miserable. If an employee is constantly confused about what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re going to feel stressed out. Stress makes it difficult to focus which leads to mistakes, causes burn out and high turnover rates. Standard operating procedures eliminate uncertainty which reduces the stress level of every employee from top to bottom. 

5) Documenting & Sharing Knowledge

If only one person knows how to properly perform a task and they leave, what happens? Trial and error, wasted time, and confusion. Employees must document their knowledge, changes, or improvements so they can be added to the SOPs. With clear instructions and the necessary information for performing every task on record, there are never lulls in production or knowledge gaps left behind.  

Additionally, SOPs (especially digital SOPs, but we’ll get to that later) make it easy to implement changes and improvements. Every employee relies on the standard operating procedures to guide their work and what the SOP says goes. So, if a new technique or step is introduced, there is no voluntary or gradual adoption that could cause a riff in production. The knowledge will be shared with every relevant employee and implemented at the same time via the SOPs. 

6) SOPs Improve Training

Quality education and training procedures are an essential part of running a business. However, training is time consuming, and time is money in the manufacturing industry. Instead of relying on experienced employees whose time could be better spent doing something else, or watching instructional videos that are easily forgotten, SOPs can guide the training process.  

When new hires come on board or employees rise in the ranks to take on new positions, SOPs provide them with a comprehensive explanation of their roles and responsibilities as well as instructions for how to execute them. SOPs are a constant resource that new hires can refer to and knowledgeable employees can answer questions as they arise instead of explaining full processes. With SOPs in place downtime is minimized and new employees can have all the info they need at their fingertips, so they can start working sooner. 

7) A Safer Work Environment

Employee safety should be a top priority for every business. Standard operating procedures can help remind employees to comply with safety protocols, such as wearing safety goggles or gloves, when performing certain tasks. SOPs promote a safe work environment because they only include procedures that have been tested and are proven to be safe.  

The Benefits of Digital Standard Operating Procedures

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of standard operating procedures, let’s discuss the additional benefits of choosing digital SOPs over paper SOPs. Digital standard operating procedures are the future of the manufacturing industry. For businesses that are considering introducing standard operating procedures for the first time, digital SOPs are a no-brainer. For companies that currently use paper SOPs, these benefits make the transition to digital a worthwhile endeavor. 

Easy Access to Organized Information

Schools, businesses, and our personal lives have all been transformed by the digital age. Paper is messy, wasteful, easy to lose track of, easily damaged, and bad for the environment—digital is just better. In the manufacturing industry, using paper SOPs means hauling around bulky manuals. With digital SOPs, all of the information a worker needs is kept on a tablet or computer that can be easily accessed and transported if necessary.  

Digital SOPs are More Effective & Efficient

Research shows that workers are more likely to follow digital SOPs. That’s probably because they are more engaging and interactive. Digital SOPs can include more detailed photos and helpful videos. If a worker needs more information or a task requires detailed work instructions, it’s all available at their fingertips. No time is wasted digging for the right paper. 

Info is Available in Real Time

Digital SOPs are interactive, and information is available in real time. Workers check off tasks and steps on the screen as they are completed, which ensures that the SOP is being followed diligently. Managers and other relevant parties are able to check the status of a project to ensure everything is on track and prepare for the next stage. Additionally, SOPs can be edited or updated in real time. With paper SOPs, the process of distributing and implementing changes is a laborious process. Updates to digital SOPs can be made instantly and shared with everyone at the same time so there is no confusion or lulls in production. 

Transform your Business with Sequence Software

Now that you understand the reasons why your business should implement SOPs, we’re going to tell you how! The first step for implementing digital SOPs is finding the right software provider. Sequence Software has everything manufacturers need to go digital and improve productivity, efficiency, communication, and safety.  

Sequence Software programs guide SOP authoring, facilitate smooth workflows, and enable manufacturers to record, analyze, and utilize data. With WinSequence, authors can create work instructions and SOPs using a graphical instruction tree as their framework. They can utilize existing data as a guide. Plus, the advanced cataloging and retrieval functions allow authors to build off previously created work. Breeze distributes read-only, on-demand work instructions to guide routine processes across the manufacturing floor. WebSequence deploys real-time work instructions that show employees how to perform tasks with rich visuals and detailed information. This interface seamlessly connects engineers with the manufacturing floor and captures useful data.  

We’ve only scratched the surface of what Sequence Software can do. To learn more about how these dynamic programs can transform your business, contact Sequence today!