Big Picture - May 2017 - 12
business + management
How to create standard operating procedures for best business practices.
| by Marty McGhie
magine we are commissioning a study of training
practices within the graphics industry. We begin with the
following question: "Does your company provide employee training?" We would likely see a response of "yes" by
more than 90 percent of those polled. However, suppose
we change the question to the following: "Does your company
provide a formalized training plan for all departments that
includes regularly scheduled education and the implementation
of up-to-date standard operating procedures?" We can safely
assume the number of positive responses would drop dramatically. In regard to your training program, like most others, your
company probably finds itself somewhere between those two
points on the spectrum. How can you ensure your training
program has a significant impact on your business?
Perhaps the biggest difference in a quality training program
versus an ad hoc approach begins with the formalization of
training. Frankly, every company does training in some fashion.
Even if it's unintentional, when a relatively new employee works
next to an experienced employee, naturally there's knowledge
passed along. However, that's not always a good thing. What if
the knowledge shared by the experienced employee is
inefficient or even incorrect? That experience and knowledge
could be based more on tradition than on actual best practices.
The following story illustrates my point. A newly married
bride decided to prepare her husband a grand meal of roast
beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh vegetables. Her
husband couldn't help but notice as she prepared the roast, she
cut both ends off. A bit puzzled, he asked her why she did that.
She replied that she wasn't sure, but while growing up she saw
her mother always cut the ends off so, naturally, that's the way
MARTY MCGHIE is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital
imaging center in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
He is a partner and director of Signs.com. You can find him on
the roast must be prepared. Now, even more curious, the
husband talked his new bride into asking her own mother the
same question. Her reply was the same. She didn't really know
- she just knew that her mother always did the same thing.
Seeking final resolution, the new bride called her grandmother
and asked her why she cut the ends off her roast all those years.
She replied with a simple answer: the roasting pan she had was
just too short, so, of course, she had to cut down the roast.
As this story demonstrates, the traditional approach to
your company's practices and procedures may not always be
the best approach. The most effective and sustainable way to
establish best practices throughout your organization is to
formalize your training program. The first step in this process
is to establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) at all
levels of your business. This includes manufacturing, service,
sales, administration, accounting, human resources, and
management. And don't forget: While safety training is a topic
important enough for a completely separate column, you must
include it as part of your company's overall approach to
training. This will likely be managed by a safety chairperson
and safety committee completely independent of your other
training, but make sure it has your highest attention.