Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

We will discuss how to use Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to improve quality and risk management. Additionally, we will present more than one case study to provide readers with a broader view of the applications of SOPs and the results they can achieve.





Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are written documents that outline the procedures and steps to be followed when performing a specific task or operation. SOPs are used across various industries and institutions, including healthcare, education, and manufacturing.

There are numerous benefits to using SOPs. They can help ensure tasks are executed correctly and efficiently, reduce errors, and manage risks. SOPs can also contribute to improving quality and ensuring everyone knows what needs to be done.


SOPs typically consist of the following elements:

  • Title: Specifies the task or operation covered by the SOP.
  • Purpose: Explains the purpose of the SOP.
  • Scope: Identifies the tasks or operations covered.
  • Responsibilities: Specifies who is responsible for executing the task or operation.
  • Steps: Lists the steps to be followed to perform the task or operation.
  • References: Lists any documents or other resources that may be useful.


SOPs are usually developed by a team of experienced individuals familiar with the task or operation they cover. They are regularly reviewed and updated as needed.


Benefits of using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) include:

  • Quality Assurance: SOPs help ensure tasks are carried out correctly and efficiently, thereby improving the quality of the product or service.
  • Error Reduction: SOPs aid in reducing errors, thereby protecting employees and customers.
  • Improved Communication: They enhance communication by ensuring that all individuals performing a specific task are aware of what needs to be done.
  • Time and Effort Savings: They help save time and effort by providing clear and concise guidance on how tasks should be performed.


Case Study: Integrating Climate-Resilient Design Guidelines into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Environmental Protection in New York (DEP)

To enrich our article on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and their role in enhancing efficiency and ensuring quality, we'll delve into a distinctive case study about the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City (DEP). This study revolves around how the department integrated "Climate-Resilient Design Guidelines" into SOPs concerning engineering, construction, and design projects (BEDC), aiding in bolstering the resilience of water and sewage infrastructure against the impacts of climate change.


Challenge: Integrating Climate Information into Design and Construction

The size of the DEP, the diversity of its projects, and its substantial budget ($20 billion USD) pose a significant challenge in integrating climate change considerations into the design and construction phase. To overcome this challenge, the department adopted "Climate-Resilient Design Guidelines" issued by the sustainability office in New York City. These guidelines are based on projections by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) regarding floods, heavy rains, sea-level rise, severe storms, and increased temperatures. Projections indicate an average annual rainfall increase of 4-13% and a rise in sea levels by 11-21 inches by mid-century.


Solution: Prioritizing Climate in SOPs

To address these challenges, the BEDC management integrated Climate-Resilient Design Guidelines into SOPs developed after Hurricane Sandy's disaster to enhance the water infrastructure's resilience.


 These measures include:

  • Assessing asset importance and their assumed lifespan.
  • Incorporating future estimates of sea-level rise into designs.
  • Protecting long-lived critical assets from floods or elevating them to higher levels from the start of the design phase.

It's worth noting that under these measures, all water and sewage facilities in New York City are considered critical.


Results: Enhancing Flexibility and Decision-Making Process

These SOPs support a comprehensive engineering process based on climate change information and historical data, encompassing planning, designing, and constructing various water and sewage projects. Inclusion of Climate-Resilient Design Guidelines from the outset ensures effective integration of climate change data into designs. Moreover, the SOPs provide a mechanism for integrating climate adaptation principles institutionally.


Significance: A Model for the Water Sector





The experience of the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City serves as a model for other water facilities aiming to systematically incorporate climate change information into their planning and design process. This study emphasizes the strength of SOPs in effecting the necessary transformation to confront climate change challenges and enhancing the resilience of vital infrastructure.


Case Study: Safety and Health Management on Construction Sites: A Comparison Between Safety and Coordination Plan (SCP) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)


Another case study explores its application in the realm of safety and health within construction sites. Let's examine research conducted in Italy comparing the Safety and Coordination Plan (SCP) with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP):


  • Safety and Coordination Plans (SCP): This plan outlines the construction site's risks and collective preventive measures required to ensure the safety of all workers, regardless of the company they belong to.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): This plan specifies the specific procedures adopted by each company or subcontractor to ensure the safety of their workers on-site.


Primary Focus of the Study

The research focuses on improving the relationship between workers and contractors in safety and health management during construction phases. Through analyzing and comparing the content of both documents, the study proposes integrating SCP and SOP into an integrated system for managing safety and health on construction sites.


Study Results and Recommendations

The research identified several crucial points:

  • Safety management isn't just about strictly adhering to laws and regulations but requires effective collaboration among all involved parties.
  • Cultural differences among workers of different nationalities pose a significant challenge in effectively communicating safety procedures.
  • The study recommends enhancing education and training programs for workers to ensure a better understanding of safety procedures and preventive practices.
  • Complex laws and regulations sometimes hinder effective safety management and increase bureaucratic burdens without sufficiently contributing to protecting workers.
  • The research emphasizes the importance of improving relations between workers and contractors to create a collaborative environment ensuring optimal safety and health management on construction sites.


Significance of the Study

This study contributes to:

  • Providing a practical example of using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the realm of safety and health.
  • Shedding light on challenges and influential factors affecting the effectiveness of safety management on construction sites.
  • Proposing significant recommendations to enhance collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders, benefiting both workers and companies.


By adding this study alongside the previously mentioned New York study, readers gain a broader insight into the applications of Standard Operating Procedures in different fields and the positive outcomes achievable through their effective use and development.


Utilizing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in Facility Management

Specialists in operations and maintenance rely on specific guidelines known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These SOPs serve as a set of directives essential for executing routine tasks. As the complexity and quantity of assets increase, the need for standardization becomes imperative. In the absence of SOPs tailored for operations and maintenance specialists, managing processes becomes considerably challenging.


What specific SOPs are employed within facility management?

While certain SOPs may be tailored to specific job types, they generally align with industry standards to comply with regulatory demands.

Presently, an escalating number of facility managers find reliance on SOPs instrumental in achieving various objectives:

  • Enhancing service performance through efficiency tracking and measurement.
  • Strengthening an organization's adherence to regulations.
  • Boosting overall productivity across all assets.
  • Ensuring task ownership and accountability.
  • Giving priority to occupant safety.
  • Maintaining service quality throughout the delivery process.
  • Facilitating the onboarding and training of new staff.
  • Serving as a reference when adapting processes to new environments.
  • Conducting audits against specific standards and utilizing checklists.
  • Minimizing miscommunication among stakeholders.
  • Streamlining workflows throughout the entire organization.
  • Eliminating errors or unnecessary steps within operations.


What operations and maintenance procedures in facilities require SOPs?

SOPs, particularly those delineating operational methods, prove most effective for routine and repetitive tasks, rather than those necessitating critical decision-making or problem-solving.


Several operations and maintenance procedures necessitating the formulation of SOPs encompass:

  • Addressing deferred maintenance tasks.
  • Scheduling preventive maintenance activities.
  • Conducting routine asset inspections by service providers specializing in facility maintenance.
  • Authorizing work activities.
  • Inputting data into a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).
  • Managing the creation and completion of work orders.
  • Procuring and overseeing inventory.
  • Assigning routine maintenance duties.