For companies who are required to have standard operating procedures (SOPs), managing changes and ensuring affected employees are up to date is a constant challenge. Especially for companies whose weekly revision churn rate is from 10 to 150+ revisions. The standard approach is to “get ‘em done” in the fastest amount of time. The end goal for most people is the proverbial (√) and lots of records claiming “read and understood” the procedure.
What’s a Trainer now Performance Consultant to do? With all this focus on training effectiveness and return on stakeholder expectations, how does a Training / Performance Consultant demonstrate his/her worth when the real outcome is a rushed end-user who has less than 20 minutes to train on the changes?
According to Rummler and Morrill*, it comes down to how serious do the changes need to be? Performance consulting is about closing gaps in results, training is about closing gaps in knowledge and skill. So, consider analyzing what precipitated the SOP change. Was is it a significant CAPA issue or FDA commitment that requires a solution more than “Read and Understood”/ e-sign for the revised SOP?
In other words, isolate the underlying issue that prompted the change. How significant is the change in the procedure? Is it vital enough to improve performance results? Then take a performance consulting approach for these changes. Don’t fret about the others requiring only knowledge. Those SOP revisions can be managed using routine training techniques whose goal is numbers trained.
What Do They Really Need to Know About the Revised SOP?
The HPI/HPT approach ties the results back to the business outcomes. If the end goal is truly a √ for SOP revision training, you have met the expectations. But as Trainer/ Performance Consultants, we know this is not an acceptable measure for any type of formal review. (Human Performance Improvement / Human Performance Technology).
What we can do is use a modified root-cause approach to address why the procedure changed and then incorporate the what, the where and the when into the training session. Take advantage of the revision history page if available. The SOP Author has listed what changed. Call him/her and ask why the change was made. Perhaps it is related to a deviation or audit observation that other employees need to know about. Find out when the changes will go into effect and how will folks be notified.
- Will it be upon an effective date?
- Or a trigger condition that now has a different decision path?
- Or is it a completely overhauled FORM to be used?
Include these notes as part of your preparation for end-users to recognize when to make the changes in their tasks. PLEASE NOTE: Revision training is not to be used as a substitute for planned OJT or new hire SOP Training.
SOP Revisions Needing Real OJT: Will Management Agree with Your Recommendation?
But what if the SOP revision requires more than a “tell and forget” discussion?
- Are the changes significant enough to require a demonstration?
- Will a one-time demo by the Qualified Trainer (QT) be enough to call it OJT?
- Does the revision require some practice to unlearn the old way and learn the new steps?
- How confident are your Qualified Trainers in redirecting this discussion with management regarding the most effective method to use, despite that it will take longer to complete the training notification flags?
First and foremost, the QT signature means that learners were assessed as having learned the content of what was delivered. Can the QT confidently say their colleagues are trained in the revision and can perform the revision without errors? Again, it comes down to how critical-to-quality is the new change? Can the department / site / organization incur waste as in mistakes, scrap work, delayed release of product, and/or re-work as a result of “lack of proper training for the revision”? After the fact, many managers have “a case of amnesia” about their original directive regarding the SOP revisions. “Just tell them what the changes are, better yet, have them R & U and sign the darn form already!” With more deviations being opened, these same managers now question why they have QTs in the first place. Funny how there’s time to do the training properly a second time?
I realize this is easier said than done especially for new QT graduates. A directive is a directive, I understand. In these cases, documentation matters and needs to be explicit that demonstration requirements were waived by “Management Decision”. When the investigation points back to a QT, the documentation will provide what content was covered and to what level of demonstration and practice was included; if any. If none are required, then the risk for mistakes is minimal. These questions, as painful as they are can be excellent references for future events where OJT is really needed for a significant SOP revision. -VB
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Who is Vivian Bringslimark?
*Rummler, G. and Morrill, K. “The Results Chain”. T & D, Feb 05; 26—37.
ASTD HPI— www. Astd.org/content/education/ certificateprogram/HPI
Robinson, DG and Robinson, JC. Performance Consulting: Moving Beyond Training; 1995.