By: Joe Sciulli, CAPP

This past January, I had the privilege of developing for IPMI’s Professional Development Video Series “Standard Operating Procedures: What They Are, What They Should Include, and Why Every Organization Needs Them.” You can watch the video here.

Unfortunately, the video’s time restriction did not allow for a deeper dive into developing, implementing, and getting the most from your SOPs. So offered here are just three tips (among hundreds, I’m sure), to help you set a course toward effective SOPs.

TIP 1: Market the Benefits of SOPs to Your Staff.

Are you and your staff—or your customers—frustrated by sub-par performance or by inconsistent guidance, shifting expectations, variable practices, or conflicting messages? Great SOPs can help overcome those negatives, but your team needs to believe it’s possible.

Communicate a vision that great SOPs, if followed, can help make everyone’s work easier to perform and efforts more efficient and productive. Persist in promoting this message, even if it’s first received with skepticism. Persist in working toward a shared commitment to develop great SOPs, even if at first such commitment comes slowly.

Great SOPs are like a steady rudder combined with the wind in your organization’s sails: keeping your program on a straight and true course toward its goals.

TIP 2: Involve Managers, Supervisors, and Line Employees in Developing the SOPs.

An organization’s success depends on teamwork and teamwork flourishes when members commit to sound procedures. When that happens and everyone agrees on the whys and wherefores of procedures, everybody wins.

Will developing SOPs take some time away from employees’ normal activities? You bet! But nothing of value comes without cost.

Your line employees and supervisors likely know their problems better than you do and taking the time to receive their input on solutions and procedures will improve your overall parking product. Involve them—as many as you can! Think of this as an old-school approach to quality improvement in today’s tech-driven parking world.

When it comes time to assemble the crew, man the oars and row toward better SOPs and heed the advice of Chief Brody in the movie “Jaws:” You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”(Or conference room!)

TIP 3: Don’t Let the SOPs Gather Dust.

There’s nothing worse than investing the time, talent, and treasure to develop great SOPs and then retiring them to the shelf, never to be seen again. Your folks’ consensus will be, that was a big waste of time.” It also will make achieving your next efforts at improvement all the more difficult.

Use your SOPs in meetings to assess compliance and performance. Take them to the field and discuss them with the staff. Most of all, review and refine them regularly. Refer to them during staff meetings, team productivity reviews, and performance assessments to keep them fresh and alive.

Learn from the quote about relationships in the movie “Annie Hall”: “A relationship [or an SOP!] … is like a shark … it has to constantly move forward or it dies.” Keep your SOPs moving forward, engaged, and alive. You don’t want a dead shark on your hands.

So there you have it: three quick tips for developing, implementing, and getting the most from your SOPs. Hopefully, they can keep your program steering a great course and producing a great parking product, all the while keeping your shark alive. And don’t forget the bigger boat.