SOPs - the art of mastering the mundane

In the techie curse blog post, I stated the case for SOPs but often in most companies these are non-existent. Ramon Padilla writes on TechRepublic, IT leadership in Master the mundane with SOPs that fit.
"The best run organizations are those which have mastered the mundane.

That is a pretty profound statement because, if taken literally, it means that the organization has perfected its day-to-day activities to such a degree that it is free to focus on being agile and responsive to the forces that affect it in a proactive way.

The path to this mastery is partially through efficient and effective standard operating procedures (SOP). SOPs are defined as detailed, written instructions to achieve uniformity of the performance of a specific function.” In other words, procedures that make sure that inputs to a process result in the same outputs in terms of quality, quantity, consistency, etc.

SOPs by design, should be based on the best way of doing things in your organization, often reflecting the best practices of the industry. Thus, we have a tie-in to methodologies such as COBIT, ITIL, and ISO.

So in general, SOPs are a good thing. However, it never ceases to amaze me how organizations can take a desire to implement best practices and SOPs and completely miss the boat on what they are doing and why they are doing it.

The purpose of SOPs is to make your organization perform better and faster, with higher quality, increased customer service, and accountability. The SOPs ARE NOT the end product, nor are they designed to be so rigid as to make conducting business painful. You know where I am coming from here. I’m talking about the kind of “procedures” that are so cumbersome and time consuming that they make you want to pull your hair out (whats left of it); that make work for people whose only reason to exist in the organization is to enforce the “procedures;” that were designed so long ago they haven’t kept up with the changing organization, or for IT, changes in technology.
 You can download a sample SOP on the download link on the right of this blog.