How setting up SOPs can help you deal with IT points of failure
Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) covering your core technology is valuable even within a small business. It will save you a lot of stress when having to deal with critical events and help your team when having to think and act under pressure. Moreover, setting up proactive actions will help you avoid such stressful situations to begin with.
Procedures that every IT department should include have in place:
• Security (don’t forget about the physical security of IT assets)
• Incident and Problem Management
•Change Configuration Management
• Disaster Recovery
When it comes to standardising your IT SOPs, the most successful businesses know the balance between an unnecessary and a valuable procedure. Too many complicated steps or paperwork can end up getting in the way of day-to-day operations.
But, when exactly is the right time to standardise your procedures?
In short, running without a well-thought-out plan is no longer an option. With new emerging IT Compliance Rules and Policies, especially about safeguarding and controlling the access to digital information (see GDPR), no matter the size of your business, you will need a clear set of supportive working instructions.
Here are some key tips to follow when looking at your SOPs and points to consider if your current operating procedures are lacking or need to be rebooted.
Spotting your weak points
First, take a good look at your technology – are there any critical vulnerabilities and points of failure? Do you have any alternatives for covering systems downtime? The list of important hardware, software and services for day-to-day operations will become your starting point for setting up proactive maintenance procedures and disaster recovery action steps.
The incident and problem management SOP will be a valuable tool in the event of an outage, describing every detail on how you should act during an unexpected event.
Create incentives for employees to share their knowledge
Consider your strongest employees in every team. Subject matter experts are your best option to help develop your SOPs. Promoting the habit of sharing best practices will elevate the entire team and help build stable and reliable operations. Subject matter experts have the required skillset to set the necessary action steps.
Provide the requisite tools and allow team members the time to brainstorm and collaborate outside the boundaries of standardisation. When their work is complete you can move forward with reviewing and rewriting the instructions into an official company SOP style.
Regularly revisit and revise your SOPs
In today’s environment of constant technology change and advancement, the IT procedures should reflect this. Plan and schedule time to revisit your procedures regularly to make sure that all the information is still relevant and valid.
Promote regular feedback from staff at all levels and be ready to capture the need for change no matter how small or big. Staff that do the actual work described in a procedure are more likely to suggest improvements and/or corrections for documentation updates. Flexibility is key in keeping a valuable and modern set of work instructions.
Make your SOPs accessible
It doesn’t matter how good your SOPs are, if you don’t keep them to hand and make them easily accessible to your team at the point of use then they are of no help. It is good practice to keep your procedures digitally accessible and make sure that all new staff are given access to them as part of their on-boarding process. New starters should be trained in the procedure system, so they can understand how the company works.
Don’t forget the need for version control!
Ensure that only the relevant versions of procedures are available and prevent the unintended use of obsolete documents.
In general, creating SOPs that cover all tasks and all departments should be a part of the company’s culture and reflect what you are doing and why you are doing it.
More specifically, when a company has perfected its day-to-day IT activities, this can help eliminate common Points of Failure. Work to either transform or mitigate the impact of IT failure risk in a strategic way and be free to develop business operations and innovate with a solid foundation.
Technology is a great tool that can help you improve and even streamline the task of setting up your SOPs, so keep up to date with all things tech. A good idea to keep on top of the latest news in business technology is by following the Grant McGregor blog!