Standard Operating Procedures:

Written standard operating procedures are a necessity in any Animal Welfare Organization no matter what size. They ensure that all staff members and/or volunteers are informed of what is expected and help them perform their jobs and duties well, especially when it comes to complicated and controversial issues. Standardized policies and/or procedures make a more complete, clear, and organized system for your organization and its role within the community.

First we need to understand, that there is no one-size-fits-all model for Standard Operating Procedures—although you will find over the next few weeks, we attempt to provide templates for some of these procedures to speed and simplify the process of implementing these procedures, they need to be customized by and for each organization. Realizing that many organizations are overburdened and underfunded, and dealing with constant chaos, we have placed together a series of tools to make the implementation of these procedures far less of a burden. Implementation of such Policies and Procedures streamline operations and provide a roadmap for staff and management to use in making decisions. In addition, it can be one of your best defenses should you be drawn into a lawsuit.

How Important Are Standard Operating Procedures?

Most important they provide solid infrastructure. Both staff and volunteer need to know;

  1. What is expected of them
  2. Have the tools with which to accomplish those responsibilities
  3. Need to know that they will be held accountable for their performance

Clear operating structure often prevents individual opinions from becoming the organizations norm. By implementing these policies and procedures, the organization empowers staff and employees as individuals and enabling the organization to function together in unison. Transforming the organization’s goals, mission, purpose, and objectives into regular procedures help to build awareness and motivate all staff.

  • Standard Operating Procedures reduce exposures and risk and serve as training mechanisms. By creating these policies and procedures and pairing them with simple, structured on-the-job training programs for the staff and volunteers should be created as a road map to provide new staff and volunteers with the information necessary to fulfill their job. The creation, implementation and documentation of personnel policies and operational procedures, along with regular checks to ensure that the policies are implemented and enforced are a key step in reducing and managing risks and ensuring smooth transitions between personnel changes.
  • Standard Operating Procedures maintain agency credibility. When a member of the public receives conflicting or inconsistent responses from the organization, its overall integrity suffers. SOPs allow for consistent representation of the organization’s policies, building credibility within the community. SOPs can help your organization easily contain potential media disasters by keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to public communication.

4 STEPS to Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure

  1. Getting Staff on Board.
    This process must be inclusive of staff for several reasons:
    • Staff are committed and dedicated to improving the organization
    • Staff are vital to the implementation process
    • Staff are excited and anxious to be part of positive change
    • Staff are more involved and know more about the daily practices in the organization
  2. Create an Outline.
    You can developed the outline by pulling together existing guidelines, procedures, job descriptions and any other utilized reference materials. After compiling this information, you then create categories: Administration, Animal Care Staff, Rescue and Control, Volunteers, Foster, Adoption, etc. Remember, this is a work in progress, so, have the outline reviewed, make any changes then and approved. Once approved, this outline is the format for the Standard Operating Procedures.

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