Does it feel like your company has hit a ceiling? Is running your company causing more stress than reward? Does trying to figure out what to do seem overwhelming?

Don’t give up. These roadblocks and feelings are all part of running a company in today’s challenging business environment. So, what should you do? Creating an official company standard operating procedure (SOP) manual would be a great first step.

A Standard Operating Procedure manual is a comprehensive written instruction guide that defines a set of steps to complete a particular action. In ophthalmology and optometry, an SOP will improve your practice’s service delivery. It will also increase your ability to effectively manage. With a detailed, functional SOP in place, you should see greater consistency in patient outcomes, an improved quality of care, and better overall customer service. If you intend to create an SOP for your practice or ambulatory surgical center, consider following these four basic steps:

  • Get everyone on the same page
  • Define daily tasks
  • Develop procedures that encourage efficiency and attention to detail
  • Train everyone on the new manual so it is implemented properly

Get on the same page. Before building SOPs for your ophthalmology or optometry practice, make sure you and your team managers are on the same page. Convey to staff that the overall needs of the company are more vital than individual or department concerns. Take the time necessary to clearly define your company’s mission, set end goals, and develop short-term targets. Be cognizant that even people in the same position do things differently. Have each person write down their steps in doing a task to see any differences that might cause miscommunication. Discover the best way to accomplish tasks and establish them as the “official” procedure for that task.

Define daily tasks. In your SOP manual, capture the details related to the daily tasks of your customer service, technician, and development departments. To accomplish this: Create an organizational chart that lists each person you have on staff; add a short job description for every employee; and decide how to delegate tasks. Once you complete the chart, share it with your team. The chart will help to avoid micromanaging and all workers will have a better understanding of their responsibilities. Your staff can use this information to appropriately plan each day.

Combine efficiency with attention to detail. Combining efficiency and increased attention to detail will help your operations reach a new level of competency. For instance, implement a standard greeting for your customer service team. This will ensure that customers know what department they have reached. In addition, consider creating a script that helps gather basic information. With a thoughtful script in place, your service team can decrease the amount of time it takes to determine the needs of a caller, while continuing to gather the required information.

Training. Once the SOP project is complete, it is important to train the entire staff. Without training, the whole process of creating a manual will be useless. Teaching the SOP steps will ensure staff knows what they are doing. It is likely that inconsistencies will be discovered during the training and that additional employee questions may have to be answered. Also, training should be ongoing. Conduct training two times a year to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Next Step

Following these four steps will help move the company in the right direction and reduce the feeling that everything is overwhelming (and becoming more so). Developing an SOP and properly training staff will help get the company running smoothly and fix some of the menial problems.

Author’s note: Joe Casper is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Visual Clinic, a healthcare “software as a service” company that offers medical practices proactive real-time visual communication so staff and providers can minimize patient waiting.