While you may recognize the importance of SOP software, you may not be sure where to start when it comes to selecting the best software for your needs within your organization. Curious how to buy policy management and SOP software? We’re here to help.
Your organization's operational excellence and adherence to regulations heavily rely on the foundation established by your business systems – the operating procedures and policies. Getting this foundation right is critical for operations excellence and compliance, and standard operating procedure (SOP) software offers what you’re looking for.
SOP software brings order to chaos by providing a structured roadmap for policies and procedures, ensuring consistency, efficiency, best practices, and peace of mind for every operation.
Keep reading to discover how to choose policy management software to streamline and centralize your company's standard operating procedures and knowledge base, including:
- Policies and Procedures
- Standard Operating Procedures
- Business Processes and Manuals
- Work Instructions
- Regulatory Requirements
- And more...
How to Choose Policy Management and SOP Software
Embarking on the journey to enhance your organization by purchasing SOP software is a strategic move that requires careful consideration.
We’ll guide you step-by-step on how to buy SOP software that will benefit you and your organization. This guide aims to provide you with insights, key considerations, and expert advice to make an informed decision tailored to your specific needs. Let’s begin.
Determine Your “Why”
“We’ve wasted time and money creating documents no one uses.”
“Our policies and procedures are a scattered mess of PDF files.”
“We struggle with policies getting ‘stuck’ within the approval process.”
“People can’t find what they need.”
"There has to be an easy way to organize and create SOP documents."
“We are not great at documents and the governance around them; it’s a bit of the ‘Wild, Wild West.’”
Any of this sound familiar? You’ve probably reached your breaking point and realized that the status quo for policy & procedures at your organization isn’t working anymore. And you’re ready to do something about it.
The first step in choosing the optimal correct SOP software solution is to identify what is required to achieve your organization’s business goals. What if you could eliminate the barriers that are currently blocking you? Your wish list might include:
- Employees would have access to the policy and procedure information they need – at the moment they need it. Because each individual employee would have the same repeatable SOP to follow, they could perform tasks with speed and precision.
- Anyone could create policies and procedures more efficiently, spending less time on mundane clerical tasks. Content would always be clear, complete, and consistent, no matter who the author was.
- Instead of manual hit-and-miss, all change tracking and version control would be automated.
- Significantly speed up policy and procedure reviews.
- Tools available to monitor usage and comprehension. Management would have real-time insight into consumption patterns and how employees may need help.
No matter your reason, start the process of choosing SOP software by deciding your “why” to help guide you along your decision-making.
Get Ahead of Your Barriers to Success
If you’ve ever gone through the endeavor of evaluating and implementing a new tool or system within your organization, you know there may be roadblocks that prevent you from a successful implementation and integration.
Proactively addressing potential hurdles early not only streamlines the software selection process but also lays a foundation for successful implementation.
Barriers to success in purchasing your SOP software – and how to mitigate these risks – can include:
Insufficient executive support
Insufficient executive support may not just come from your direct supervisor. Executives need to be bought in since they will be the ones directly responsible for holding teams accountable for adding SOPs into the software and encouraging employees to use them.
Engaging executives early in the process can encourage buy-in. Provide them with comprehensive insights into how the software enhances operational efficiency, ensures compliance, and contributes to long-term cost savings.
Demonstrating the positive impact on key performance indicators and showcasing successful case studies from similar organizations will also encourage buy-in. By actively involving them in the decision-making process from the beginning, you can position the SOP software implementation as a strategic investment essential for the organization's growth and success.
Lack of a dedicated team
When an organization moves from an ad hoc, anything-goes approach (like what you’re probably doing now) to a more structured, standardized solution, there is some upfront setup and planning that requires focused resources. Dedicated resources are critical at the beginning for setting up the content overlays and templates, importing and creating SOPs, reviewing and approving, and then encouraging team members to use them.
Without establishing these resources prior to the start of the project, there will be no accountability. Whether this be a dedicated individual or a team, it’s necessary to determine who will be responsible for implementing, setting up, and maintaining the software and training all employees who will use it.
Collaboration and clear communication are key, ensuring that roles and responsibilities are well-defined and that team members understand the broader objectives and goals. Organizations can pave the way for a successful implementation of SOP software by fostering a culture of shared responsibility and providing the necessary resources and support.
Limited buy-in from SMEs
To successfully integrate your new SOP software, you will need the expertise of subject matter experts (SMEs) within your organization to actually use the new policy management platform. They will be the individuals actively utilizing the software and creating policy and procedure documentation – so you need to make sure they’re on board.
Engage SMEs early in the decision-making process to understand their insights and perspectives. Clearly communicate the benefits of the SOP software in terms of business outcomes, efficiency gains, compliance improvements, and overall process optimization. Conduct training sessions tailored to the needs and concerns of SMEs, demonstrating how the software aligns with their workflows and enhances their day-to-day tasks.
You can also create a feedback loop to allow SMEs to voice their concerns and suggestions, fostering a sense of ownership in the implementation process. By actively involving SMEs and addressing their specific concerns, organizations can secure their buy-in and expertise.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll get to it when I have the time,” - but never actually find the time to start the project? Without hard deadlines, things will never get done, and projects can lag on forever.
To get ahead of this challenge, establish a realistic and well-defined project timeline from the very beginning. Start by pulling together a comprehensive assessment of the organization's needs and capabilities and use this information to develop a phased implementation plan. Break down the process into manageable milestones, assigning specific deadlines to each phase.
Also, communicate transparently with stakeholders about the expected timeline, considering potential challenges or unforeseen circumstances. Regularly monitor progress and be prepared to adjust deadlines as needed, ensuring that any modifications align with the overall project goals.
Create a List of SOP Software Requirements
Getting consensus from your entire team of stakeholders on key features and priorities is essential for making a good decision.
Your checklist for SOP software requirements and essential features should include topics like:
- General System / Platform. These are the “big picture” features and attributes needed to support a secure, scalable policy and procedure solution. Examples of requirements include an integrated system, versatility, and easy linking and integration.
- Content Usability. Most people don’t realize that it’s the content itself that drives performance. Common issues (inaccessibility, confusion, updating angst) are linked to content quality. Unless your content is accessible – employees can find it, understand it and can use it to make good decisions -- nothing else really matters. Examples of requirements include methods to prevent content duplication, easy-to-use search, and clear and concise content.
- Change Management. Managing revisions and change tracking is challenging, especially at scale. You’ll want features that automate these tasks and at the same time, ensure content integrity, and reduce audit costs. Examples of requirements include automated review processes, configurable revision management, and review collaboration tools.
- Delivery & Integration. Today’s communication demands require that content be delivered to multiple audiences on multiple platforms, such as mobile devices, in the way they need it without conversion or reformatting. Examples include a customizable employee portal, employee favorite document lists, and ADA/ 508 compliance.
- Creation & Editing. Content usability starts when it is created. It’s time to take the notion of SOP templates to a new level and design audience-centric content. Examples of requirements include standardized content documents, the ability to insert pictures and videos, and preview options for all devices.
- Governance & Security. Platform security must meet the most rigorous requirements. Configurable application and user permissions are essential at scale. Examples of requirements include employee permissions when editing or publishing content, SSO integrations, and test and quiz options.
- Implementation, Services, & Support. Technology is just one ingredient needed for success. Deploying and maintaining a policy and procedure system that employees rely on every day requires the right customer service and support. Examples of requirements include technical support, customized implementation programs, and tools to monitor and measure ongoing success.
Review and Assess Possible Solutions
At this point, it’s time to research the possible solutions that will effectively transform SOP creation in your organization.
Policy and procedure management solutions range from general-purpose tools to specialized enterprise solutions. These solutions fit into three broad categories:
- MS Word-based (such as document management systems and policy managers)
- Non-MS Word-based (such as content component management systems, process automation platforms, and SOP software)
- Other business-specific tools (such as learning management platforms, checklist software, and process maps/flowcharts)
Within those categories are general-purpose and specialized products. Some are designed for technical teams, others for non-technical business professionals. Some require heavy reliance on IT, and some don’t. Determining the best fit for your organization depends on several factors, including workforce size, resource commitment, and scope.
Gain Organizational Buy-In
Once you’ve decided on software that is the right fit, how do you get everyone on board?
Keep in mind that every employee could potentially interact with the content with their set of unique needs. Who are the major stakeholders? Who are the decision-makers and unofficial influencers?
Departments with the most resonance and impact are usually in operations, compliance, or risk management. IT will typically have a use case as well, and they should certainly be involved early, especially for assessing security requirements.
Convincing key stakeholders and executive management that an enterprise policy and procedure management system is a worthwhile investment can be a challenge, especially in today’s environment of tight budgets and competing priorities.
To guide you, here are three steps you can take to build consensus:
- Identify all the possible stakeholders, key decision-makers, and influencers. The first step is identifying those who will be the primary users or influences for the SOP software implementation and usage. This could be executive team members, department heads, managers, or employees.
- Research their goals, use cases, and personal benefits. By casting a wide net and understanding the perspectives of each stakeholder, you can ensure a more inclusive decision-making process and confirm that all organizational needs will be met. Conduct a survey or perform interviews to understand how the software will be used.
- Address concerns (prep for possible stakeholder questions). Establish open lines of communication and provide stakeholders with detailed documentation answering any questions they have. This will not only instill confidence in the decision-making process but also demonstrate a commitment to transparency, thorough research, and better results.
Create a Business Case for Your SOP Tool of Choice
While creating a business case may seem like an overwhelming step in the SOP software purchasing process, it will help make your decision much clearer to all team members involved.
Creating a business case is simply highlighting the benefits of purchasing the SOP software for your organization. This is the time to let your research shine and tell the story of why purchasing this software will help improve business outcomes and offer continuous improvement.
There are numerous “soft” benefits: less frustration and streamlined communication, but it’s best to link your business case to measurable economic value. There are two parts to building a solid business case:
- Work time cost savings: The time employees spend authoring, reviewing, publishing, translating, updating, and managing content. Specialized SOP tools can potentially shave off hundreds of hours across all SOP content life cycle phases. For example, just by eliminating document formatting, creation and updating time can be reduced by 60%! That single improvement translates into hundreds and thousands of dollars annually.
- Business results: Your desired operational outcomes, specific improvements, risk reduction, or compliance targets that can be achieved through accurate, accessible operating policies and procedures. Our own clients have realized results such as a 60% reduction in errors, a 50% reduction in compliance costs, millions saved from potential lawsuits, faster onboarding, increased profits, and more.
Purchase Software and Move to Implementation Phase
Now that you’ve selected the best SOP software for your organization, it’s time to buy and implement it!
This is the exciting part - finally seeing the fruits of your labor in purchasing the standard operating procedure software for your company. In this phase, it's time to dot the i's and cross the t's to get the right tool started. You'll likely sign contracts, agree to a pricing plan, and move to the next step of how to implement the software to ensure a successful integration.
Discover Why Zavanta is the Right SOP Software for Your Organization
Through our own research and customer feedback, Zavanta SOP and policy management software remains in a class of its own when it comes to SOP management software. We may be biased, but Zavanta streamlines all work aspects and is the best choice for user experience, content strategy, design, customer support, and usefulness.
Zavanta is a good fit if …
- You’ve tried other tools like SharePoint, and it’s still not working.
- You want your people to have accurate and easy-to-search content.
- You waste time playing hide and seek for documents.
- You use cupcakes to bribe reviewers to meet deadlines.
- You are a mid-size or large organization looking for an enterprise plan.
- You need a versatile, scalable enterprise solution.
- Your industry is regulated, and/or audits and regulatory compliance are required.
- You want to link your P&Ps with regulations, ISO requirements, etc.
- Your leadership is committed.
- You know where your budget may come from.
- You want a structured content solution.
- You want a comprehensive implementation program.
- You are prepared to commit the resources for ongoing employee training and expanded usage.
Any of this apply to you? Reach out to our team to learn more.