Standard Operating Procedures – A complete guide! – Test & Adjust

Welcome back to the 5th in our series of blogs describing the Key elements in the SOP lifecycle. So far we have introduced the ‘SOP pie’ and worked through the first half and hopefully got to the stage where we now have a the first draft of the SOP. This blog will dig further into the first step of the second half of the pie which is all about getting the SOP out there and used by your audience– Test & Adjust

There would be no point in writing any SOP’s, even going through all of the points we have covered so far, and then just pointing people to it on your SharePoint site and assume it is going to work perfectly first time. In my experience nothing works perfectly the first time it is used, especially not when people and interpretation are involved.

So as with most things it is best to go through a test and adjust phase with our SOP. You will have heard me say this with most of the stages of this lifecycle by now, and I am sure it will be said again, there is no one correct answer for achieving this, but there are some simple considerations to help achieve a successful outcome:

  1. Firstly and probably most importantly, this is not a one off step, this should be an on going part of the process in itself. The SOP you have designed is there to achieve best practice at this time. However the SOP will need to grow and develop with time in order to remain relevant and meaningful. So in simplistic terms ensure the SOP is reviewed and updated on a regular basis and state how this is going to be achieved within the SOP. To achieve this it is worth utilising standard SharePoint functionality to setup regular reminders on your SOP documents, and if distributing using DocRead don’t forget to take advantage of the expiry date feature to help ensure only the up to date version of the document is being read.
  2. Ensure that during testing the SOP is stepped through and carried out by the end user in a live or as close to live as possible working environment. There is little point doing this away from the expected working environment, it can generate false positives and negatives.
  3. It should really go without saying, but there is little point in the person who authored the SOP carrying out the testing of it. When this happens the person ends up testing what they meant by the SOP rather than what the SOP actually states.
  4. If time and environment allows then a pilot of the SOP is a good way to test it. Pilots can be used to carry out A/B testing of different formats or approaches within the SOP. i.e. Try each option and see what works best, then implement that.
  5. Gain feedback from as many sources as possible during testing. A good way to achieve this would be to have the document in SharePoint and to distribute using add-on tools like DocRead with a DocSurvey attached to gather the comments and feedback.

Once we have tested our SOP all that remains is to finalise the documents in SharePoint and get ready to Distribute and Train the relevant audiences on this SOP.