What indicates the expiry of an SOP Document?

Six indications that tell that your business’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) needs a revision.

SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures, as per the WHO, are written manuals that mention, in detail, how a particular procedure like a test or administrative process needs to be performed. SOPs are also relevant to operate machines and equipment, their maintenance, and calibration. These are standard-approved procedures. The Standard Operating Procedures development process should involve people who work at the ground level, and people who can bring a unique perspective and value-addition to the process.

While a SOP documents every last detail of the procedure, there needs to be a proper ‘change control’ mechanism to keep track.

Just like every other thing, SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures come with an expiry term period. While preparing such a document, it is critical for everyone across the team – department heads, technical authority, QA, and QC managers to understand and agree at what point the SOP has reached its useful life or is due for a revision.

The Quality Assurance (QA) or Internal Audit team is responsible for revising the SOPs though the actual Standard Operating Procedures development process should involve people who work at the ground level. The team needs to review the document and lookout for indicators that translate into the document’s end. 

Sometimes, the actual process or procedure changes beyond the original SOP scope, or the process or procedures mentioned in the SOP becomes redundant and outdated. Such situations trigger a revision or redrafting of the SOP. When the SOP fails to live up to the actual procedure or does not produce optimized results, the SOP requires a review and revision. While many industrial domains have a formalized process to identify the end date, many businesses need to monitor and review the SOPs on a regular basis and keep a watch over changing conditions. These changing conditions indicate the need to revise the SOPs, by either new Standard Operating Procedures or by amending the existing ones.

What are the possible issues and problems if SOPs are not revised?

An SOP intends to help reach from point A to point B in a process effectively while ensuring proper controls. To think that the SOP is working perfectly for your business and sit back with your feet up never works. Having blind faith in the SOP can be catastrophic. It is important to keep reviewing the SOP occasionally. When a man is not immortal, expecting processes, technology, etc., to be immortal is not wise. Following redundant or inaccurate procedures can lead to failures. 

Here are six indicators that are a sure-shot way of understanding that it is time to relook at the SOP and go in for a revision:.

CONCLUSION

SOPs are lifelines for most organizational processes and methodologies. They are factual sheets that act as an auditor’s checklist and a reference point to spot deviations. Besides, SOPs offer the right way for the team to work and perform optimally, saving the organization’s cost and time. Therefore, it is imperative to look out for indications, understand ‘when’ and ‘how’ an SOP revision needs to be initiated.

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