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#1 Kat3

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:52 PM

I've been delving into my company's documentation for an upcoming BRC audit, and it seems like we have an unnecesary amount of SOPs and SSOPs, but are also missing some important procedures. We're a start-up granola company, and it seems like the attitude was to write up an SOP, SSOP, and One Point Lesson, which appears to be simple work instructions for everything they could think of.

My initial thought is we probably have too many documents and could cut some of that down to make procedures more manageable and effective. Right now I'm updating and revising the Qulaity Manual as a starting point. I thought that maybe I could judge what SOPs and SSOPs were needed after the Quality Manual was updated.

What would be an effective way to streamline the documentation? How do you keep documentation from getting out of control in your company while covering all the necessary requirements for third party audits?

--Kat



#2 GMO

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:02 AM

Blimey. I was thinking the same thing in my site but they don't have a single SOP! The problem is they have procedures but they're all contained in the quality manual in a not very useful way!

I think you have to work through it one by one and think "do I need to train this to an operator?" if so, it's probably some kind of SOP, on some occasions, e.g. personal hygiene policy, that could be contained in your quality manual. If you don't need to train it out to loads of operators, get rid of the SOP I reckon.



#3 Zeeshan

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:31 AM

I've been delving into my company's documentation for an upcoming BRC audit, and it seems like we have an unnecesary amount of SOPs and SSOPs, but are also missing some important procedures. We're a start-up granola company, and it seems like the attitude was to write up an SOP, SSOP, and One Point Lesson, which appears to be simple work instructions for everything they could think of.

My initial thought is we probably have too many documents and could cut some of that down to make procedures more manageable and effective. Right now I'm updating and revising the Qulaity Manual as a starting point. I thought that maybe I could judge what SOPs and SSOPs were needed after the Quality Manual was updated.

What would be an effective way to streamline the documentation? How do you keep documentation from getting out of control in your company while covering all the necessary requirements for third party audits?

--Kat


The baseline for assessing the need of a document is the applicable Standard(s). Let's take your case. Suppose BRC is the only standard you follow. List down the mandatory documentation requires by BRC standard. For example, BRC Food Standard identifies following mandatory documentation:

1) Documented supplier approval procedure (Clause 3.6.1)
2) Documented policy/procedures for metal control and handling glass, brittle or hard plastic, ceramic or other similar materials (Clause 4.8.3 & 4)
3) Documented policies and procedures for handling raw materials, intermediate and finished products to prevent cross contamination related to materials containing allergens (Clause 5.2.1.3)

Note that the above list is not exhaustive. Also do not confuse with the words like "procedure" and "documented procedure" to guess them mandatory multiple pages or heavy duty traditional procedures. A procedure is simply a standard way or practice not necessarily be documented and a documented procedure could be a documented SOP, a documented work instructions or simply a poster for display. So you should read the applicable standard(s) to list down the mandatory documentation as required and then modify your documentation system accordingly.

Next step is to assess those documents which are not identified as mandatory by the standard but seems important to be made and implemented. For example an SOP for carrying out a particular process or set of processes. In this case, as other members suggest, you should assess the importance of that particular process or set of processes. If your assessment reveals that deviation from the standard practice could result significant losses, then you should retain the relavent document otherwise there would be no need to keep that "non-sense" a part of your system. Some people consider, personnel competency level while deciding the need of documentation. IMO, it should not because IMO process standards should be person-independent. You do not know when a highly competent person leave your organization and you have to occupy an average competency person at that location. At that time, if you would have a standard document at that location, you simply have to train and raise the competency of that new person according to standard documented practice.

Regards:
M.Zeeshan

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#4 wilkindubai

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 11:27 AM

The best way to determine whether a document is useful, is to consider the effect of taking it out of the management system.

The golden rule is that all documents should have an effect upon quality - all-too-often I see documents that have been produced for the sake of the system and not for the benefit of quality.



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#5 Lane

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:30 PM

Kat3,
I'm faced with a similar situation at my company - thankfully we don't have a 3rd party audit like BRC (but I'm sure we will in a few years). I see the need to update our SOPs, but it seems like such a daunting task. We have a lot of SOPs related to our quality control department, but most of them are outdated at this point. They need to be revised to a format that can better track revisions, and they need to be evaluated to determine if they are necessary and appropriate.

I appreciate the comments from wilkindubai and Zeeshan - I'll purpose to keep them in mind as I work through our SOPs.

My other thought on SOPs is that they need to clearly define a procedure in such a way that it could be carried out without the current staff or SOP author. Writing something in this way is always a challenge.



#6 Kat3

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 11:54 PM

Thanks for all of your replies and good advice. It does seem a somewhat daunting task, but it's comforting to know I'm not the only one in this situation.



#7 Zeeshan

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:21 AM

My other thought on SOPs is that they need to clearly define a procedure in such a way that it could be carried out without the current staff or SOP author. Writing something in this way is always a challenge.


Dear Lane,

Your vision is appreciable.

My two additional advices are to:

1- Use more visuals than text (actual pictures, images, sketches) to illustrate the real situation related to specific SOP. For example if you are developing an SOP for proper use of a probe thermometer then include the picture of same illustrating main parts of the equipment and pictures showing how to use the probe in different conditions and for different materials.

2- Make prominent or highlight (by increasing text height or changing the color of text) the most important aspects of the activity in a particular SOP. For example if you are making an SOP for making and using sanitizing chemical solution, highlight the ratio/quantity of composition of that solution and precautions while using that chemicals.

Regards:
M.Zeeshan.




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