My Answers from LinkedIn (Third in an Occasional Series)

As noted in the first post of this series, I am posting answers to procedure and training-related questions posted on the LinkedIn groups I participate in. As appropriate, I will expand on answers here (read, I thought of additional things to say).

Share your thoughts on creating Standard Operating Procedures for first level support. What should be the outline of this process document? By first level support, this is for  an Application Help Desk Analyst to understand the process of handling incidents (Incident Management Lifecycle). The objective is to fulfill the maintenance request, streamline Incident management process and daily activities list and to restore the service as quickly as possible in cases of service interruption.

The answer to this development problem is really no different than it would be to establish procedure and training requirements in any department. Here, you will want to create a complete description of what an Application Help Desk Analyst does. This will likely end up being a little more involved than just one or a handful of SOPs. In a nutshell, this is what you should do:

1. Create a list of activities or tasks that the Analyst performs. For each activity, you will want to identify the end product (in this case, it appears the “end product” is organized information) and who receives it.

2. Define the best way each activity or task is carried out. For this to be effective, you will need to consult with the end users of each “product.” It may be that the current product as delivered could be made better.

3. When the best way to perform each task is understood, describe the tasks in one or more SOPs. Generally, the SOPs will align with the tasks (the task list created in step 1 in essence becomes your “shopping list” for procedures).

4. When the procedures are completed, train the Analyst in each procedure. As would be helpful, you can create visual helps to use as references (i.e., once trained, the Analyst would not need the whole procedure at his/her disposal, but a brief help visual would reinforce the learning). The procedures may be supported by work instructions, which are documents the worker has at their side while performing the task.

5. After training, measure learning, and more importantly, measure performance to determine how the procedures and training are working out.

I hope this is helpful. Note that when I discuss operating procedures and work instructions, I am not necessarily dictating that they be on paper. There are many ways, including online, that could prove more useful. That is a function of the particular work environment. But the need to fully capture a picture of the work that is done, and then to fully describe that work, exists independently of the type of position and the manner in which the information is presented.

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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