This week we have a guest blog from Velvet Kavanagh.  Velvet helps craft cannabis companies streamline operations so they can reduce stress and increase profits with her company Phenologic.  She’ll share some of her tips for better standard operating procedures (SOPs), a crucial part of your Quality Management System.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a requirement to be compliant with Health Canada’s cannabis regulations.  However, they are often poorly designed, or may not be specific to your company.  This leads to higher costs, less profit, and more stress for you and your team.  Frustrating all around!

Instead, think about how good you would feel if your SOPs save money, are efficient, and even… enjoyable!  That sounds much better, doesn’t it?  Treat your SOPs like the valuable tools they are and you’ll get there!

In this post, I’ll share some of my 9 SOP Tips for cannabis regulations.  Start with these today to improve your own SOPs.  You’ll end this year feeling more solid, and be on your way to a less stressful and more profitable business!

SOP Tips #1- Why Are We Doing This?


Your team needs to know not only how to do the job, but why it is done a specific way.  This crucial piece often gets left out of SOPs.




When people know why they are doing a task a specific way, it helps them understand the importance of what they are doing.  They will be less likely to take costly or damaging shortcuts.  And if a problem shows up- you know they do!- your team can more easily fix the issue, while still meeting the ‘why’ of what they are doing.


Explain, right in the SOP, how it fits into your company’s business goals and compliancy requirements, and what is at risk if it is not followed.


With this understanding, the SOP will make more sense and be more effective.


SOP Tips #2- Inputs and Outputs


Every SOP has inputs and outputs: materials you start the SOP with, and what you have at the end. This could be plant material, paperwork, spaces, tools… anything you use or change in following the SOP.



Think of it like running a relay.  The baton that the first runner hands off is their output. When the second runner gets it, the baton is their input. Then the baton becomes their output when they hand it off.

The ‘baton’ hand-off from one SOP needs to be suitable for the next SOP. If it’s not, it takes time to fix. Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there, multiple times a day, week, month… Frustration builds. Costs increase. Quality and profit suffer.

Instead, your SOPs should create one team working together to make the best final output- your product!- you can achieve.



A perfect demo of this… notice how much time is lost.  Keep your eyes on the right. Don’t let another business do this while you are fumbling!


SOP Tips #3- Leadership Does It


Cannabis company leaders- this tip is talking to you!
You are busy and just need to ‘do this quick’.  Or you skip it because you don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. I get it.



But then your staff have to fix what you did.  That costs money.  And they think: If the boss doesn’t care, why should I? You lose the respect of your team and erode workplace culture… more money.


Unfortunately, this issue is very common.

You demonstrate the importance of SOPs through your actions.  If you skip it, so will the staff. And you might not know that until a serious- expensive!- problem shows up.


For this Tip, it’s good to have someone from outside your business, like me, to help you do it.  Because of the employer-employee power dynamic, it’s hard on your team to really tell it to you straight.  And it can also be hard for an employer to hear it.


Get more insight into this Tip on this post.


SOP Tips #4- Key Performance Indicators


Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to monitor business performance. Create a few KPIs for any SOP that is important in the bigger picture.



Much of it comes down to how much time SOPs take and how to reduce mistakes. Both time and mistakes are expensive!

So much data can be tracked that it’s easy to go overboard or get overwhelmed. Focus on where your business at and what is important to your customers.  Some questions to consider:


  • Do you spend too much time doing daily tasks that take you away from leading your company?
  • Are customers not repeat buying because your product is inconsistent?
  • Is your team frustrated by mistakes?


Create KPIs for issues you want to fix.  Track these to create a baseline, adjust your SOP, then continue tracking. Watch for long-term trends and ratios to see if the changes are effective.


Share your favourite KPIs to track on this post.


SOP Tips #5- Make It Look Good


SOPs are often a big wall of dry text.  No one likes reading that!  We all learn differently, and some of our team may speak different languages.  Sometimes we forget or don’t want to look something up.




This leads to mistakes that cost us money, and inconsistent results… that costs us money and our reputation!


Make your SOPs more effective by adding your company’s personality, diagrams, charts, and icons.  Break the content into easy-to-read pieces.  Display infographics and photos at key locations.  Make it easy for your team to get the info they need at a glance.  This will improve your training as well.


The SOP will be easier to understand and follow, leading to a more consistent product, fewer costs, and happier customers.


Where are the rest of the SOP tips?

Download all 9 SOP Tips here: Download

How To Get Started

Look for a few of your company’s SOPs that could benefit from being improved.  Maybe you feel like they waste time, or they have a lot of deviations, or they have led to a costly mistake.


Pick 1 or 2 of these SOP Tips that seem to relate to those, and put them to work.

Start today and you’ll end this year feeling more solid.  And you’ll be on your way to a less stressful and more profitable business!

Reach out to me at  with any questions about these Tips, or if you want some help figuring out how to apply them to your business.