The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Operations Q&A: Have You Published Your Operational Cookbook?

Standardize processes to ensure consistent operational results.

Editor’s Note: Lee Schwartz is principal at the Schwartz Profitability Group. He will be blogging occasionally for MDM on the topic of distribution operations. His blog will be presented in a Q&A format. If you have questions regarding operations for Schwartz, please email him at Learn more about Schwartz at the bottom of this blog.

Question: Have you published your Operational Cookbook?

Answer: You’re given an idea for a new dish. What’s your approach? Aimlessly pull together the ingredients and have at it? I suspect not. Either you’ll follow the recipe given to you, browse the internet or consult that cookbook on a nearby shelf. Why? Because you want the dish to be perfect … the first time and every time.

Shouldn’t this approach translate to work, as well? Indeed it should. You want results that are repeatable. While it is acceptable for a basketball player to make 50 percent of their shots, your customers will obviously not stand for that level of performance.

And think about the new hires walking in the door for their first days of work. A verbal explanation of how to get their jobs done properly is a great first step but it pales in comparison to providing them a written SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to guide them toward completing their tasks successfully.

Bottom Line: Yes, writing policies and procedures is tedious work . . . but well worth the time. If SOPs do not exist, memorialize (write down) the steps necessary to complete the tasks that you are responsible for. Operational success is far more achievable to those who make this commitment. An Aberdeen Group report found that leaders standardize business processes 33 percent more frequently than followers. Be a leader!

Lee Schwartz, former CEO and president of distribution and manufacturing companies, is principal of the Schwartz Profitability Group (SPG) that, for almost 13 years, has uncorked the operational bottlenecks of distribution and manufacturing companies, boosting their bottom line results. His consulting and operational turnaround work helps clients find solutions related to process improvement, supply chain management, inventory control, workflow design, and operational performance.

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