Goodbye To The SOP As A 50 Page Word Document

NapkinEverything points to this as an inflection point (scientific napkin view – left).

There’s an increasing number of people in Life Sciences looking for a better way of managing the knowledge that has traditionally been deposited in a vast library of SOP documents that are read, mostly, just by authors and auditors.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been engaged with two organizations searching for an alternative process-based approach. Both want to minimise the number of SOPs – even eliminate them altogether. Their strategic drivers: compliance and performance improvement.

From the compliance perspective, they want end-to-end process visibility, and governance, that will highlight the overlaps and inconsistencies inherent in lengthy stand-alone SOP documents. They see higher levels of process adherence resulting from higher levels of process understanding.

They also want to build more flexible high performance cultures – and recognise that is underpinned by organizational process maturity. So they want to connect people with process, and embed it in their way of working. Their start point is to make the knowledge currently buried in SOPs easily accessible to people doing real work, through end-to-end process perpectives and role-based storyboards. They also want to integrate process with real-time performance metrics. And to adopt it as the language and framework for collaboration on continuous improvement.

Kudos to Novartis, which has been the leader in this transformation. But the adoption of end-to-end process as a better way to manage and improve highly complex organizations, operating within a world of rigorous regulatory regimes, now looks like an idea whose time has come.

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