What are cannabis cultivation/harvest Standard Operating Procedures, how to write them, and why they’re important?
Buddha’s Harvest is no stranger to standard operating procedures (SOPs). We develop customized SOPs for each and every facility that we engage. But what are SOPs, and why are they so important? According to Cannabis Business Times they’re an “outline of exactly how to conduct every process of your operation”. Hubspot (a popular CRM platform) calls them “a step-by-step list of instructions detailing how to execute a routine procedure”. Simple enough right? Wrong, the devil is in the details! Good SOPs can make all the “difference between profit and loss, compliance, and court case”.
SOPs should be VERY simple and easily digested. They should have bullet pointed steps that flow in line with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. As Edgar Allen Poe in his writing “The Philosophy of Composition” asserts, one should “know the ending in advice before writing”. In other words we should know what we want the end product to be, and work backwards. In the spirit of Charlie Munger, we should look at all problems backwards to help create and reveal new solutions. If you want good end product - identify the gaps in the process leading up to testing or retail sales and close them. Start with a complete list of functions that the team must execute. Use checklists, flow charts, detailed instructions, and imagery. Okay, get your pens out, I’ll provide you an SOP on how to write SOP’s.
1. Analyze: Assess the space and work flow, define each task in detail, remembering to keep it as concise as possible (your team will likely not read a 100 page SOP on harvesting).
2. Consider each angle: walk through all possible scenarios and variables, things like safety, contamination risk, and simplifying each tasks should be considered.
3. Thinking ahead: Again, consider the end product, this will help avoid any missteps or oversights.
4. Reflect: Identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and pain points. Seek hands on feedback, ask your team, speak with experienced cultivators, harvesters, and SOP professionals to review and critique your outline.
5. Measure: Determine how the SOPS will be measured, tested, and reworked always allowing for some level of flexibility.
6. Implement and test: So how do we create standard operating procedures for organic material that essentially has a mind of its own? The answer is: leave room for variation and “one offs” Don’t get bogged down in black and white paper. Instead keep operations somewhat grey and open to slight onsite improvisation. We call this flexibility - with a spine!
But why do we need SOPs, can’t we just grow and harvest cannabis? SOPs not only allow you to systemize, structure, and maximize your yield, they also point to key performance indicators (KPI’s), and they establish methods to measure growth. SOPs create standards that allow for replication, increasing likelihood of consistent quality product, and ultimately dependable revenue. SOPs in the regulated cannabis market are particularly important for compliance and to avoid legal missteps. The B.C.C utilizes track and trace through the Metrc system. Metrc is a compliance software intended to track the life of each individual plant from seed to sale. It is entirely necessary, yet cumbersome. As with most business operations the stronger your procedures are, the more likely you are to overcome challenges. So take the time, consider each variable, and begin writing some simple procedures for your team. It will help you sleep at night and if ever, as a business owner, you get a day off- you will be glad there is a document on file for teammates to reference.