You may have rolled your eyes and sighed when you read the title for this article. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) as a topic tend to be one of the less exciting parts of meeting planning, but when it comes to strategic meetings management (SMM), it’s essential. Let’s find out why it’s so important to what we do.
The Benefits of SOPs in Meeting Planning
SOPs are more than just desk instructions for team members to do their jobs. Having a thoughtfully-crafted SOP provides you, your team, and clients with the following:
- Standards and consistency: standard procedures ensure that a task is successfully replicated in the needed manner each time, regardless of whether an employee is a fresh hire or a veteran.
- Reliability: clients can rest easy knowing that the team’s work tasks are standardized so that we provide the same levels of service for each meeting, key for successful SMM.
- Metrics: well-planned SOPs are built around service level agreements (SLAs), ensuring that employees understand contractual agreements and ensure they meet them (key for SMM), as well as providing trackable data for individual employee performance reviews.
- Confidence: SOPs not only give clients confidence in consistent service standards, but also empower staff to act independently, secure in the knowledge that they have what they need to correctly complete a task.
Provide a Single Source for Success
Often teams have written procedures, but they may be in multiple places or in separate documents that aren’t easy to find. In Performance Optimization, we find that the most successful and cohesive teams have SOPs that are collected in one document or platform and are designed to be searchable. This approach reduces confusion on where to find answers on how to work and gives teams a foundation for success. It may be that a compilation SOP is bulky and dense; our solution for this is to include checklists in the beginning for veteran staff that just need a reminder of the order of process steps (with links to pertinent templates), and position the deep content behind those checklists for team members that need more supporting detail. Meeting planning is complex and complicated work, especially if regulatory agencies are involved, so having a comprehensive SOP in one place sets the team up for success and enables confident, accurate work.
SOPs as a Roadmap for Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is a buzzword with origins in ISO-9000 certification. Many clients these days need to demonstrate it, and that’s unlikely to happen without a solid SOP. It’s not enough just to have one in place; true, measurable excellence grows when the SOPs are reviewed regularly, updated with new/changed processes, and analyzed to identify which existing processes can be improved and enhanced. When did you last review your group’s SOP? Chances are that unless it was in the last month, it may be out-of-date. Finding time to revise is challenging. One approach is to designate a “quality officer” on the team who is responsible to review the SOPs on a regular basis and raise any ideas on continuous improvement for how the team works. It can be overwhelming, but one bite at a time makes the meal. BCD M&E has resources that may help and can even consult with your team to audit your SOP and help with an overhaul or improvement assessment.