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Ditch the Paper SOPs, Learn How to Go Digital

By Intertek Alchemy   |   

If you’re drowning in a sea of paper-based SOPs and work instructions, you’re not alone.

Today, employees spend an inordinate amount of time searching for information to do their jobs. Even if they find it, chances are good the information is outdated or doesn’t apply to a specific task. Now’s a good time to shred your old paper habits and go completely digital. Here’s how.

As manufacturers shift operations to make improvements or address changing conditions, paper-based SOPs and reference documents can become outdated overnight.

Traditional paper-based work instructions and SOPs are long, boring, difficult to read, and even harder to produce. That’s why more manufacturers are turning the page to digital content.

Recently, Chance Navarrete and Hannah Beckwith from Intertek Alchemy participated in a webinar — Digitizing Your SOPs with New Mobile Technology — to provide tips and techniques for companies wanting to go digital.

Among those tips is Alchemy Playbook, a mobile tool that puts collective knowledge, skills, and expertise in the palm of employees’ hands. Playbook addresses common issues that manufacturers face when managing paper-based SOPs. It eliminates the need for physical materials like binders, paper, pens, and printer ink. And it helps manufacturers keep SOPs current and relevant to match the needs of diverse workforce groups.

During the webinar, Navarrete covers several technology features that include the ability to upload PDFs directly into a course to digitize SOP binders quickly. Beckwith shares her experiences working with manufacturing facilities to replace their paper-based processes and enhance their employee training capabilities.

Before diving into the program, Beckwith and Navarrete polled attendees to gauge where they stand in digitizing their SOPs. Of the findings, more than half were storing SOPs digitally but using printed copies for training and reference. Only 10% were fully digital. And 11% were still managing SOPs entirely on paper.

This breakdown is similar to what Beckwith and Navarrete commonly hear when talking to clients about how they manage and improve their workers’ skills. A lot of companies are making the leap to capturing and sharing information digitally. But when it comes to actually delivering and taking advantage of digital SOPs, many are still dependent on printed materials for some training purposes.

Alchemy Playbook bridges the digital divide and responds quickly and fluidly to these four challenges.

Onboarding at Scale

Employee onboarding can be challenging to manage, especially when conducted at scale. It may be easier to onboard large groups on standard HR processes and high-level safety training. But it’s far more difficult to standardize and deliver SOPs and task-specific training for different jobs, people, and levels of complexity.


Anyone who manages a flexible workforce knows the importance of cross-training employees to support multiple roles and build up the resilience and bench strength of their workforce. But this also increases the complexity of training and tracking for employees who apply different skills in various departments.


Absenteeism is a major concern for many manufacturers. The problem has only been exacerbated as plants are forced to react to gaps created by employees exposed to COVID-19. If someone is unable work, or simply doesn’t show up, managers need to identify another person trained in that area or quickly train someone for that role. Failure in this regard can result in unplanned downtime, late starts and disruption of shift schedules for other employees.

Knowledge Retention

As people leave the workforce due to retirement or other reasons, manufacturers need to capture their institutional knowledge and pass it on to the next generation of workers. Once employees leave, it’s too late to update paper-based SOPs with their knowledge. A digital format can capture their experience one project at a time or anytime during their years on the job.

Alchemy Playbook helps tackle all of these challenges with easy-to-use technology to digitize existing SOPs while providing a platform to simplify updates to SOPs and greatly enhanced on-the-job training materials.

In the webinar, Navarrete and Beckwith demonstrate Alchemy Playbook and share customer experiences that will help you learn how to:

  • Keep all SOPs and training documents a tap away in any mobile device,
  • Ensure the latest version of a procedure is the only one accessible to employees,
  • Enrich your existing SOPs with videos, pictures, and knowledge checks,
  • Create entirely new procedures in just a few taps.

Check out Intertek Alchemy Playbook to learn how to address these and other challenges when managing employee training materials. If you’ve found tricks or technologies that make managing SOPs easier for your organization, let us know in the comments.

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