The Importance of an SOP

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the management staff for your association decided to leave? Do you have a plan B in place for someone to fill that person’s shoes? Could someone else immediately step in without disrupting the association? If you cannot answer yes to each of these questions, then it is time to think about putting together an SOP for your association.

For those of you not aware, SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedures. A Standard Operating Procedures manual is a very detailed account of the day-to-day management of an association. This is something that every association should have so that at a moment’s notice, another person could seamlessly transition into managing your association by referring to the association’s SOP.

An SOP can either be organized by category or chronologically by date. If you decide to organize it by category, then you would create a section for each of the association’s activities. You could have one section titled “board meetings”, another titled “annual convention”, another titled “membership” and so on and so forth. If you decide to organize it by date, then I would suggest that you start with the beginning of the fiscal year instead of the calendar year unless they are one in the same. By organizing it by date, you are basically creating a timeline of when certain items need to be finalized for the association. For example, if the fiscal year is a calendar year then maybe the first order of business would be mailing dues renewals out on January 1. Or if the association holds a board meeting on the 15th of each month, then you would include that an email reminder needs to be sent to all board members three weeks prior to the board meeting. I personally find that organizing the SOP chronologically by date is easier to not only use but it is also easier when creating it from scratch because you can add to the SOP each day as you perform different duties for the association.

Although a new client of mine already had an SOP in place, I realized that it was extremely outdated. Therefore, I started creating one from scratch immediately after taking them on as a new client. Since I took them on shortly after the start of their fiscal year, I add to the SOP each day as I perform different tasks for them so that in future years, I have something to refer to should I have questions about how it was handled in the past.

Since we never know what tomorrow holds, we should always have a plan B in place. As association management executives, it is our job to eliminate the stress for the president and board members that comes with leading an association. The last thing we want is to have the weight of the day-to-day management falling on their shoulders should something happen to us.

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