SOP Process – Frequency of Revisions and Reviews of SOPs


Frequency of Revisions and Review of SOPs with IntelliSOP

The aim of SOPs is to document the standard procedures in an organization: therefore SOPs need to remain current in order to be useful. IntelliSOP keeps track of SOP due dates and every user is able to see when an SOP will expire. The system marks every SOP to show it will soon expire and puts them into a special dashboard for administrators to review them and prepare the next versions.

Whenever it is necessary to implement changes to procedures, then SOPs should be updated, reviewed and approved again. IntelliSOP allows administrators to see the version history of an SOP, that is, whenever a version of an SOP supersedes one or more SOPs, then these are chained together, so you are always aware of the changes and how the SOP evolved historically.

You are always able to prepare future drafts of an SOP and include them in the chain, so that you can have the full picture, even about the SOPs to come. It is important to highlight that these draft versions in preparation can be hidden to avoid confusion among users. They will always see the current version of SOPs only, that may be different on a per-project basis. On those occasions where a specific project requires to keep an older or a custom version in effect, IntelliSOP is able to clearly conduct those projects separately, without different versions interfering and confusing the user.

It is possible to modify only the pertinent section of an SOP and then indicate the change date, the revision number for that section in the Table of Contents, as well as the document control notation. In this case, IntelliSOP allows to clone the old SOP settings, make the changes required and then document them for everyone to be aware of the new procedure. This is a big time saver and error minimizing feature. Besides, every change that is performed is tracked in an audit trail section, so that you can know anytime what the changes were, who made them, together with a timestamp.

SOPs should be also systematically reviewed on a regular basis. Review periods may be determined, for instance, every 1-2 years, to ensure that the policies and procedures remain current and appropriate. This company policy can be set system-wide in IntelliSOP, so that every SOP enters the proper review cycle automatically. You can of course override these settings for more or less frequent life cycles.

During those revisions it may also be determined whether one or more SOPs are even needed, as the process may have become obsolete. Frequent examples are manual procedures that are replaced by the use of a system, changes in regulatory requirements, innovative and more efficient practices, etc. IntelliSOP helps manage this organic evolution of your company in a very simple way. The extremely user-friendly interface of IntelliSOP facilitates the update process and to represent in the system your current standards. There is no delay between defining a new procedure and the communication and integration of such process with your people. Projects are always tied to the SOPs that apply to them throughout their life cycle.

Upon revision of an SOP the review date should be added, as well as the reviewers involved. The SOP should then undergo the approval and sign off process. It is advisable that your company includes a robust procedure to determine how to make staff aware or re-trained. With IntelliSOP it is incredibly easy to communicate changes to SOPs as well as the introduction of new procedures: every user can immediately see these updates and news in their dashboard with a link to the documentation in your document management system for awareness and training. They will also see these new processes reflected in the projects and global SOPs where they have been assigned a role.

In the case of an SOP describing a process that is no longer followed, it should be retracted from the current file and archived. Date and details of the withdrawal should be documented, and retracted SOPs should be archived and retrievable on audit purposes. All these steps can be performed easily by the functionality for administrators in IntelliSOP. It is seemless for end-users, ensuring that they always see updated information only. This minimizes the risk for human errors, the use of outdated templates and forms, wrong documentation of processes, etc.

It is wise to define a review process that is not overly cumbersome and a burden to the organization, in order to encourage timely review and avoid non-conformity. With IntelliSOP the reviewed SOPs are transparently integrated and chained together. This guarantees that every administrator does not have the burden of updating several systems. Everything is done in one place.

The Quality Management Plan or Quality Manual of an organization should indicate the frequency of review defined by management. Details should include who (which individuals or roles) are responsible for the maintenance of SOPs and ensuring that they are current. These individuals receive administrator permissions on IntelliSOP, so that they are able to manage these SOPs with a fine granular permission system, e.g. allowing subject matter experts to update the SOPs for one their respective sub-organization or business unit.