Human error is inevitable. This is why many organizations across different sectors implement standard operating procedures to specify, organize and guide recurring tasks. Standardizing facilities management processes is crucial to consistently meet operational goals, sustaining quality, ensuring compliance and managing costs. Well-executed SOP programmes allow organizations to generate consistent results regardless of the personnel involved.
SOP implementations do not always go as planned. In particular, ensuring compliance to SOPs is tedious, requiring close management supervision, a monitoring system and penalties for non-compliance. Without such consistent management effort, SOPs tend to be ignored.
Reasons Standard Operating Procedure Programs Fail
(1) Ignoring Ground Realities
Facilities management SOPs, particularly those written by business executive or external consultants, may be written with an idealized situation in mind. SOP statements may then be worded too generally to be meaningful to ground staff or at times, impractical to implement.
Taking onboard ground realities often means undertaking some risk, and business executives may be adverse to being seen as permitting such risks in writing.
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(2) Too Complex
Adherence to SOPs starts by remembering what they are. If SOP documents are too verbose, lengthy or complex, ground staff simply cannot remember them, much less adhere to them. Too often, SOP documents are voluminous. Management should take the effort to really distill essential workflows into simple SOPs if they expect full compliance.
(3) Not Prescribing SOP Compliance
Having written the SOP, ensuring compliance becomes the key challenge for management. Rather than leaving compliance to general management oversight, compliance should be boiled down to a series of checklists and workflows. Producing these compliance checklists and workflows are as crucial as writing the SOP document itself.
(4) Fragmented Data
Compliance checklists and data regarding workflow compliance should also be made available to senior management. This allows the entire organization to behave in unison in complying with SOPs. Fragmented data would make it very difficult for senior management to exercise such oversight as gathering such data itself would be tedious.
Why a CMMS System is Key
The best SOPs programmes are automated with the help of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). CMMS systems typically allow the configuration of digital checklists. These checklists form the backbone of the SOP programme, as they can be automatically scheduled and assigned. Evidence of completion, such as photos can also be attached digitally.
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All parties, including senior and middle management, would have easy access to these checklists. Knowing that compliance is being monitored digitally automatically induces greater compliance by ground staff, and the need for proactive management oversight is reduced.
CMMS systems also allow workflows to be managed and automated. For example, it is better to configure sign-off processes within the system and let the system automate the sign-off processes than to write these processes down in a document and expect compliance.