SoPs...it’s one of those business terms people toss around, but how many people actually know what they are? And for the ones that do, how frequently and well are they using them in their organization?
SoP stands for Standard Operating Procedure. In short, an SoP is detailed documentation of the who, what, where, when and how of a process or procedure.
These procedures show how a company wants their business run at every level. They are the playbook for managers’ and supervisors’ performance evaluations, and an employees go-to guide for executing successfully across all teams and departments.
There are a few different types of SoP formats, each meant for a different or more complex process or procedure.
- Step-by-Step → a simple list, used for straightforward tasks/processes (ie Step 1, 2, 3…). Where this can be used in private security operations → Managing Users
- Hierarchical →an upgraded step-by-step SoP, which details out each step of a process exactly how it needs to happen (ie Step 1, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, 2b...). Where this can be used in private security operations → Transitioning Operations
- Flowchart → used when multiple outcomes are possible throughout a process (i.e. if/then, yes/no logic). Where this can be used in private security operations → Deescalation tactics
Building an SoP
The more complex a process is, the more complex an SoP will become, but for the sake of this article, we will dive into foundational best practices.
Keep in mind Standard Operating Procedures can take time to build, especially ones with numerous stakeholders and teams involved. Make sure that you dedicate the time, resources, and personnel to execute building a thorough document. They are the guidelines for your business.
Here are the basic steps to creating any SoP:
- Set goals for creating the SoP.
- Identify stakeholders & who will write/build the document.
- Determine the end-user (who will use the SoP).
- Determine the scope of the project (how in-depth do you need to go), and what format to use (step-by-step, hierarchical, flowchart).
- Write the SoP.
- Review the document.
- Train end-users.
- Test & tweak the SoP.
- Evaluate & adapt the SoP regularly.
Private Security Operations & SoPs
Private security is no different than any other business. Your security guard company needs SoPs not only to maintain your business, but to grow it. In fact, we would argue that due to the regulations and liability of owning and operating a security company, SoPs are even more crucial.
There are numerous benefits to having SoPs in your security guard company. Here are just a few:
Streamlined On-Boarding & Training
Easier and more straightforward on-boarding and training gets your new officers out in the field faster. There will be no question of what each new guard needs to learn and what the best way to train them is. The SoP will outline everything so your new hire can just show-up and get going. These SoPs would include things like HR paperwork, issuing equipment, assigning training shifts, and initial evaluation procedures.
Bonus - Tune into Thinkcurity & Steve Donofrio discussing how to train your supervisors.
Increased Productivity & Easier Performance Evaluations
Because there are documents for everything a guard is required to do, there is no question as to where their time should be spent or how they should be getting tasks done. Supervisors have an easy reference point for identifying top performers to give additional opportunities to or holding under-performing officers accountable. The SoPs set the expectations for both guard and supervisor.
Bonus - Turning Average Security Guards into Top Rated Employees
Business Expansion & Process Scalability
It’s every security owner’s dream to expand their business. Winning more contracts allows a business the opportunity to grow. However, successful growth comes from an operation’s ability to scale and adapt their business structure to meet the increased demands of more clients.
If SoPs are in place, an organization is not only able to pull up documentation on what is currently working but also past iterations of the documents to see how the operation has successfully scaled before. They can determine how teams need to evolve and adapt as new guards join the team and new shifts are being assigned.
Without these documents, owners and operators are left flailing, trying to create something from scratch. It leaves a ton of room for error and wastes precious time and resources.
Records Against Potential Litigation
Private security comes with high liability. It’s why owners must carry so much insurance. It’s why they implement security software tools that keep their data for decades. Both current and historical SoP documentation can be referenced when a client accuses a guard of something - or worse - sues you for an on-site incident.
In instances of these accusations, SoPs paired with a guard management solution, like Silvertrac Software, a security operation can pull up the SoP that every officer is trained on, as well as, incident & checkpoint reports that show they were at their post and how they handled the incident in question.
Bonus - How to React When a Client Accuses Your Officer of Lying
Hopefully this gives some insight into how important and beneficial SoPs are to your security operation. But if you need any further convincing, just think of the consequences that come along with not having SoPs in place.
- How much time and energy do you need to build and implement a new on-boarding process every time? How much room for error is there to forget important parts of this process?
- What are the legal ramifications and potential monetary fines for not adhering to private security rules and regulations? How simple is it for someone to forget or overlook continually changing physical security regulations? How well does your word stand-up against a client’s in the court of law?
- What types of confusion or questions could a new or even seasoned officer have without regular training documentation on-hand? How frequently are your supervisors able to conduct OTJ training? How frequently are your guards able to do proper training without these tools?
Without SoPs, your operation is draining time, energy, and resources that could be allocated to expanding your business into new industries or growing your service offerings.