Tricks Of The Trade: Standard Operating Procedures

By James C. Elledge, IFMA Fellow, CFM, FMA, RPA, RIAQM
Published in the August 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Q How do I create SOPs (standard operating procedures) for all activities relevant to facility management?

Jai Raj
Facility Manager

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

A Standard operating procedures are written from a technical point of view for a specific audience. When created according to the guidelines recommended below, SOPs are valuable as training material, recommendations for acceptable standards, and areas of improvement.

When properly written, SOPs are:

  • Clear and concise—they get right to the point without using filler or fluff;
  • Complete—all of the information required to perform a task is provided;
  • Objective—the content is factual, it isn’t based on opinions or beliefs; and
  • Coherent—as a useful resource, SOPs serve as a step-by-step guide for completion of the specified task.

The best way to create these procedures is by taking the following steps:

  • Know the background and experience of the user or user groups;
  • Determine why the manual is being created (Will it be used as documentation for training? Or will it update the user’s knowledge or familiarity with a process?); and
  • Describe the process you are going to detail, detail the process, then summarize what was detailed.

Use an outline to create a framework for the documentation. Create the outline by:

  • Listing the topics to be covered;
  • Creating major groups to list the topics. These groups may contain operational issues, maintenance, life safety, etc.;
  • Starting with a rough draft;
  • Waiting 24 hours, then revising the draft (this allows some time for the writer to be more effective.); and
  • Writing the final draft.

Finally, be alert for boredom. If you get bored while you’re in the writing process, then the reader will probably be bored too.

You can search the Internet for examples from other facility management organizations. Just remember that each facility will require its own set of procedures.

Elledge,facility/office services manager for Dallas, TX-based Summit AllianceCompanies, is the recipient of the Distinguished Author Award from theInternational Facility Management Association (IFMA), is an IFMA Fellow, and isa member of TFM’sEditorial Advisory Board. All questions have been submitted via the “Ask TheExpert” portion of the magazine’s Web site. To pose a question, visit this link.