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Write down basic processes -- the smallest amount of information captured in the simplest way possible

Darren Frye, CEO

July 16, 2019

2 Min Read

I keep hearing people talk about the importance of documenting processes, or standard operating procedures. I don’t think I can justify putting the work into that level of documentation.  
— S.B., South Dakota

The reality is every farm has processes. The question is are the processes documented? That’s what people who recommend standard operating procedures are referring to.

Do you have a need for people other than yourself to be doing things in a standard way when you’re not around? An SOP is meant to replicate the same level of quality.

Maybe there’s a sequence of steps necessary to operate the sprayer. You’ll want to document it so whoever is running the equipment will complete all the steps.

Things can go a bit off the rails, though, if we end up spending weeks — or years — documenting every process. The risk is not only in spending too much time and effort, but also in failing to consider the “shelf life” of the documentation.

Farm tech is changing rapidly, and farmers who have committed to building SOPs can become frustrated when it comes to maintaining all their procedures.

You can approach this a bit differently by capturing basic processes, or the “minimum valuable process.” That’s the smallest amount of information captured in the simplest way possible. The goal is to transfer key steps and nothing more.

This could mean a note card kept in the armrest of the tractor, highlighting the five critical things to do before starting a certain activity. Stepping back from creating “perfect” processes and focusing on “good enough” helps prevent frustration from continually putting in a lot of effort.

Work to improve how your operation is capturing processes. Consider what you can document simply and train your team to do so as well.

Frye is president and CEO of Water Street Solutions. [email protected]

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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