In the media

Supporting Digital Operations with Standard Operating Procedures

There are many times when a standard operating procedure is appropriate. Here is how to determine when you should create yours.

Kristina Podnar
August 15, 2017

IT departments have long relied on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for server security lock downs and other infrastructure-related activities. Help desks use them routinely to quickly address user issues. So why would you not develop standard operating procedures for digital operations? Certainly not every policy or standard requires a supporting operating procedure, but consider a scenario where you are trying to troubleshoot an issue with your webpage header not properly displaying, but rather looking small and illegible:

  • Is it a problem with the graphics in the header that you used?
  • Is it the content management system (CMS) not publishing correctly?
  • Is it a CMS template issue because the development team migrated them to a new server?
  • Could the analytics team have applied a new SEO plugin that caused an issue?
  • Or is it the infrastructure team that just upgraded the server and it is causing compatibility issues with the webserver?

There are many times when a standard operating procedure is appropriate, but this is a single example where a SOP can make a difference between spending hours trying to determine the problem - with lots of team conference calls and wasted effort - or following a coordinated and documented troubleshooting process that allows you to quickly isolate the problem and address the root cause. 

Don't have SOPs but you can see the value of adding them to your digital governance toolkit? Generally, the digital standards steward is the right individual to lead the effort. Also, consider the following process as a means of getting an initial set-up in place:

  1. Develop your SOP checklist based on highest-value policy and standards and those that have the largest number of checkpoints across the team or organization.
  2. Select your SOP authors and reviewers based on the teams and touch points involved. (Hint: you can use our standards inputs and decision making process to determine those individuals.)
  3. Develop the SOPs and route them through reviewers and adopt them into the documentation set.
  4. Follow the standards lifecycle for disseminating, implementing and measuring the procedures, ensuring they are available via the central digital repository.

Just like policies and standards, SOPs should be reviewed and updated based on triggers. For that reason, I advise you start off conservatively and grow your procedures as you determine the greatest need and return on investment for the time and effort. 

If you find yourself in need of additional guidance on creating SOPs for your organization, feel free to get in touch.

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