ShareKnowledge Blog

Standard operating procedures in SharePoint is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Amber Rasmussen October, 2017

Love them or hate them, standard operating procedures are a necessity for running a successful business. Each year, we are faced with more and more regulations and in fact, some experts claim that the year 2017 will be ‘the Year of Regulations.’ This will, of course, create an impact on the training world. Companies need to be mindful of how they deliver training content, what departments are impacted by the new rules and how they track learning for certain workplace laws. This ultimately means that new standards of operating procedures (SOPs) need to be in place, with effective training that keeps in time with updates. SharePoint provides the right tools to manage SOPS in the most efficient way.

CREATING A STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE (SOP) IN SHAREPOINT

SOPs can be quite complex and usually involve several people from various departments giving their input before it’s complete.

The best way to organize the task is by creating a team site in SharePoint. Team sites are wonderful for project-based work and provide the tools to do so efficiently and effectively. No matter if the members are in a different department or work from home, they all can access the team site when it’s convenient for them and keep updated on the latest news.

The project manager can easily upload one or more SOP files for the group to create and/or edit, create specific tasks for each member with due dates, and give instructions on the group newsfeed.

SharePoint Workflows keep everything moving in the right direction

One of the best ways to keep the creation of an SOP running smoothly is by using the workflow feature in SharePoint. This means that there are specific rules in place that won’t let a user move forward until the steps have been completed in order.

 

As an example, let’s say you need everybody to review the document and approve or reject it for edits. Person one will get the SOP first and review it. For the sake of this example, we’ll say that it doesn’t get approved and needs to have more edits made. This means the workflow stops. Once the corrections are made the workflow would begin again starting with person one then person two, and so on and so forth.

There are several different types of workflows to choose from:

  • Approval - This workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for approval.
  • Collect Feedback - This workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for feedback. Reviewers can provide feedback, which is then compiled and sent to the person who initiated the workflow.
  • Collect Signatures - This workflow routes a document to a group of people to collect their digital signatures.
  • Disposition Approval - This workflow, which supports records management processes, manages document expiration and retention by allowing participants to decide whether to retain or delete expired documents.
  • Group Approval - This workflow is similar to the Approval workflow, but it uses a designated document library and offers a personalized view of the approval processes in which a user is participating.

How to add a workflow using SharePoint:

  • Open the SOP document > from settings menu, click list settings> from customize page, click workflow settings.
  • Add a workflow page > workflow section > select a workflow template list and the name of the workflow you want.
  • Choose unique name of the workflow in name section.
  • Specify a task list to use with this workflow.
  • In the History List section, select a history list to use with this workflow. The history list displays all of the events that occur during each instance of the workflow.
  • In the Start Options section, specify how (automatically or manually), when (item update, creation or both), or by whom a workflow can be started. Note that the available start options are determined by the workflow template and will differ from one workflow to another.
  • Click Next to configure workflow-specific settings, as necessary.
  • After you have configured workflow-specific settings, click OK to finish adding the workflow to the list or library.

STORING A STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE (SOP) IN SHAREPOINT

Once you’ve created an SOP it is easy to store them in SharePoint for easy access. With incredible search features as well as versioning and auditing, SharePoint is a company’s best friend when it comes to compliance.

Here are a couple useful SharePoint tips when it comes to storing SOPs:

Choosing a library vs. site

It’s important to have an organized way to store standard operating procedures. When choosing between a SharePoint library or site, the most important thing to consider is findability. Your employees should be able to find what they need with a minimum amount of clicks as possible.

Libraries are highly used in SharePoint for document management. They are better to choose than folders because they support metadata for search, workflows, versioning and the like. Sites are another option and differ than libraries in that they offer a tool of information management – present documents in broader context with links, calendar, and blog.

If you choose to move forward and structure an SOP library, the best approach is to get rid of the Shared Documents library which tends to become a “junk drawer.” Think about how people will access documents and then build libraries around that.

The next step after creating a library is to distinguish how much control is needed. Who should have access to the content, add or change content, and with what restrictions?

Metadata ensures that your SOPs can be found

Whether you choose to store your SOP in a library or site, using metadata will make it a whole lot easier to find these important documents when you need them. Using metadata essentially assigns consistent document classification that helps with findability.

When metadata navigation is configured for a list or library, a tree control on the left-hand side of the page displays a hierarchy of both folders and managed metadata terms that can be used to filter the view of items in the list or library to create dynamic displays of content.

Setting up metadata navigation

  • Go to the list or library for which you want to configure metadata navigation > click the List or library tab of the ribbon, and then click list settings or library settings.
  • General settings > metadata navigation settings > configure navigation hierarchies section > select the field or fields that you want to display in the navigation hierarchy and then click add.
  • By default, the navigation tree displays folders. If you do not want folders to display, select folders and then click remove.
  • Configure key filters section > select the fields that you want to add as key filters, and then click add.

EFFECTIVE TRAINING THAT KEEPS UP WITH UPDATES

The last and possibly most important aspect of SOPS and compliance is utilizing a learning system that will notify employees when it’s time to update their training.

Compliance issues are such a big concern for many companies that keeping errors to a minimum is crucial. One way to do this is by keeping everything under one roof and limit the use of multiple systems.

Training managers are already utilizing SharePoint for creating and storing learning modules but the savviest of them will look into a SharePoint-based LMS to complete their training and compliance requirements.

ShareKnowledge will compliment even the most demanding compliance programs – from personalized learning, e-signatures, certification, reporting and much more. 

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