Creating Standard Operating Procedures Is Nothing New for Military Veterans
Military veterans are process-driven and highly skilled at creating standard operating procedures (SOPs). Creating set procedures to standardize a specific task avoids re-inventing the wheel with each job, ensures continuity, and allows newcomers or outsiders to understand how a unit operates. These are vital for a unit’s success and underlie everything from inspections and cleaning duties to maintenance and supply operations.
Veterans are trained in Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma processes to increase efficiency and eliminate waste.
Susana Mendez served in the Navy as an aviation administrator, and went on to create standard operating procedures in her civilian workplace. As a bilingual dispatcher for a scrap metal company, she was responsible for setting up container drop offs and pickups for metal waste. “It was my job to make up the schedule for all 14 drivers. It was like putting a puzzle together based on driver location, size of containers, as well as last minute client requests and driver availability.”
Going above and beyond was something Mendez learned in the Navy. She recalled, “We had one client that fined us $10,000 every half hour if production was shut down because the metal container was full. If my company incurred a fine because of a mistake, that was an instant dismissal. So, my job was stressful at times. I would work hours like I did in the military, standing watch at night to make sure there were no shut downs on the client’s round-the-clock schedule. When their scrap metal container was almost full, I’d call a driver in the middle of the night to replace it with an empty one.”
Veterans learn to use, implement, and tweak processes.
“Since the job could be overwhelming, creating standard operating procedures made it a lot easier to understand the system, navigate through it, and document everything accurately,” said Mendez. She worked through each process and took screen shots of every step along the way. She then typed up a detailed description explaining how to perform each step. “There were different processes we had to follow and different scenarios, so by showing what to do for each step, it made it easier for me to learn my job faster, and for new folks to learn the job as well,” she added.
The effort paid off for Mendez. “My manager congratulated me on my work, and told me the procedures I created had come to the attention of the corporate office and would become our permanent process manual. I believe because I developed those processes, I later moved into a corporate job within the company,” she said.