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FLEXO Magazine : July 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES Writing Procedures SOP for SOPs By Doreen M. Monteleone and Christopher Dugan It is important to beta test procedures to ensure they are understandable, effective and ike valuable employees, a good procedure can help you improve the productivity and effi ciency of your workfl ow and ensure you meet your environmental, sustainability, or other goals and objectives. Procedures (often referred to as L complete. When done correctly, they will result in uniformity, effi cient and effective performance. standard operating procedures or SOPs) are guidelines on how to implement a company’s policies. The better the guide, the better the company’s policy is implemented. Companies, therefore, should develop procedures with the user in mind. A well developed and thought out procedure provides organization and structure to the user and will result in consistent and correct actions by all employees who use them. It is important to design a management system or other procedural document in a manner that is simple, consistent, and easy to use; procedures need to be written so that they can be easily understood and followed by all users. Besides ensuring they are understandable, there is a sense of ownership among procedure users. For these reasons, it helps to involve users in the development of procedures. Ask employees using the procedures for their input on how the job should be performed. Expect the document to undergo several drafts before a fi nal version is approved. PROCEDURE SECTIONS Individual procedures should be made up of several sections, which can include a purpose, scope, background, defi nitions, reference documents, responsibilities, the actual steps of the procedure, frequency, records, and a revision history or document control description. Let’s take a look at these sections in some detail. Purpose. A procedure’s purpose describes what the procedure is about. Is this a general maintenance procedure? An equipment specifi c maintenance procedure? A waste reduction procedure? These types of questions should be answered in the procedure’s purpose statement. The purpose can also 40 FLEXO JULY 2009 describe the overall objectives, functions, or tasks that the procedure is designed to accomplish and the circumstances under which the procedure should be used. Scope. The scope of the procedure should describe to whom or to what the pro- cedure applies. The scope of a document can be specifi c so that it includes only a subset of employees or processes, or it can be general and include the entire organization, location, or process. If the scope is general, you may be able to include it in the “Purpose” section. If necessary, the scope section can identify the prerequisite knowledge and skills required to be responsible for the procedure, a list of equipment, supplies, or parts needed to perform the procedure, and highlight any safety issues and other precautions that should be considered when performing the procedure’s steps. Backgrounds and defi nitions. This section is typically considered optional; however, backgrounds and defi nitions can be helpful with complex or technical documentation, especially regulatory requirements. The background can describe the quality and regulatory reasons or associations for which the procedure is needed. Defi nitions are exactly as you would expect them to be: a dictionary or glossary of terms that are mentioned within the procedure. Associated and reference documents. If necessary, a procedure can list associated or reference documents that are used in conjunction with the procedure. For example, a general maintenance procedure may reference equipmentspecifi c training manuals, lock-out tag out program, etc. Responsibilities. The responsibilities section defi nes who is responsible for executing the procedure both directly and indirectly; responsible parties can also be identifi ed in the individual procedural steps section. There can be several responsible parties associated with one procedure. Both individuals (e.g., training coordinator) and groups of people (e.g., management, the quality assurance department) can www. f le xography. org
Sustainable Spring 2009