KFA Writes

Building Great Organization’s through Detailed SOPs

2018-11-14

Processes are underrated. Always have been and probably always will be. But that doesn’t reduce their significance in the growth of an organization of any shape, form or structure. A lot has been said these days about pragmatism and dynamism being the key drivers of organizational growth and yet it is only in organizations that channel these visceral forces through the structure of a defined process that tangible results can be observed. Processes are not pretty; they don’t inspire confidence and seem tremendously difficult to get used to initially but when they work, oh boy do they work!

Ever since there have been SOPs, people have dreaded them, if not cringed by the idea that their actions are beholden to a piece of paper drafted by faceless men. And yet human life itself goes well when bound by processes and structure. This is especially true for organizations that require an underlying structure to hold things together and reinforce company culture. Nations and organizations are both built upon common values. Although an organization is not really comparable to a nation, they both are heterogeneous entities with a hierarchical structure that are only able to grow sustainably if that growth is organic which is only possible if they adhere to a concrete framework.

For organizations, SOPs cover all their functional dimensions and focus primarily on continuity across various departments and locations. They do so by clearly documenting common procedural frameworks that are applicable in functional departments and strategic business units which act as building blocks for their individual operational frameworks. This extends to the experience of clients across departments and locations with the emphasis being on providing a uniform and consistent client/user experience across the organization. This also means that there is less of a learning curve for employees when coordinating interdepartmentally or even when they are rotated or transferred. This helps improve the overall efficiency of the organization and will have a definite impact on the company bottom-line.

SOPs promote greater stability through the implicit declaration that things are to be handled a certain way which will not change abruptly but rather in line with a changing business environment. This encourages employees to be well versed with the requirements outlined in the SOP as they are confident that they will not need to relearn “how things are supposed to work” again in a short period of time. What this also means is that partners and stakeholders are much more comfortable working with the organization as they do not need to plan for the short term accounting for the policy volatility within the organization. This creates goodwill and enthusiasm in the market about working with the organization.

Finally, SOPs allow organizations to comply with ethical and regulatory standards which can be attributed to a greater focus on working within a structure and leaving little grey area for breach of standards. The increased emphasis on doing ethically responsible and legally compliant business means that there is greater accountability within the organization which in turn is great for employee morale, public perception of the company and leaves little room for mistakes.

In hindsight, SOPs are like going to the gym. They require a lot of effort initially and adherence to a strict regime where processes are followed religiously and results are not demonstrably visible in the short run. Nevertheless, the long term implications of implementing a detailed SOP make the concerned party much better equipped to excel in their consequent endeavors.  Organizational excellence requires competencies across several dimensions and they are tied together by SOPs which provide the framework for the organizations growth. Great Managers build great organizations; SOPs ensure they remain great long after those managers are gone!

- Nimesh Adhikary

The Author is Research Officer of KFA Business School.

 

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