SOP: standard operating procedure

Last night, I made this tweet:

//twitter.com/#!/cajunjoel/status/136310520348282880

It’s partially a joke, because I managed to somehow book my hotel for one night when I needed four for a conference here in Chicago. I am about to check out of my room and move to another hotel for the next two nights. (They were able to accommodate me for one more night. Yay, me.)

But this really turns out to be a failure on multiple levels. Let’s break them down:

Failure #1. This one is all mine. I booked the hotel wrong on the website, I didn’t review the reservation, I didn’t review my paperwork. I take full responsibility for this one. My penance: skipping dinner with my colleagues from around the world (really!) to search for a new hotel in a city where every hotel is booked solid, except the Trump Luxury Suites (or whatever it was called) for $650 a night. (for the record, I found a room a bit further out of the city.)

Failure #2. The hotel. When you check in to a hotel, do they review your planned stay with you? “Thank you for your credit card, Mr. Richard. We have you staying for one night, checking out tomorrow by 11am. Sign here.” “Woah, wait, one night? No, I need three!” This didn’t happen. I’m not saying this is this hotel’s policy, but this has been the case in the past and it didn’t happen here. Even though we step back to Failure #1, this could have helped the situation by catching it earlier.

Failure #3. Overnight, a bill was slipped under my door for the two nights in which I stayed here. Good, procedures are being followed. They certainly weren’t being followed the night before when I didn’t get a bill for my first night’s stay. Not even a receipt. Had I received that I would have been on the phone finding a new hotel at 7am instead of 7pm and I would have a different experience and possibly a greater chance at finding a close-in hotel somewhere other that Mr. Mega-millions Luxury Motel.

I’m not blaming the hotel for this. I made the mistake. I didn’t follow my own procedure to review my trip info before I left.

But what it really brought to mind was that when we develop software and websites, it’s important to have procedures on how we do that. From planning to development to testing to documentation to usability and incorporating user feedback, we need sound processes that are always followed. This insures the highest quality product and the highest level of service to our customers, users and patrons.

And maybe you won’t be left trying to avoid sleeping on the streets of Chicago, either.