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Process Monitoring Tool #1: Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Review

What Questions May Be Addressed by This Measure?

This tool assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of systems that are currently being used by your mediation service office.  These include any policies that have been developed (e.g., confidentiality) and/or procedures created for conducting the work of your program (e.g., Intake forms). 

How Do I Use This Measure?

To start, you will need to select a procedure or policy you wish to evaluate.  The questions below provide a template for you to follow; modify as needed.  It may be useful to gather any paperwork (e.g., forms, templates) relevant to the policy or procedure you plan to evaluate.  It may also be useful to involve several people in the evaluation process.  For example, if you are assessing the Intake process, you might wish to include individuals currently in charge of intake as well as those who have been responsible in the past (if they are still around).  Additionally, some questions may be best addressed through interviews and/or self-assessment surveys with pertinent individuals (e.g., disputants, office staff, volunteers).  Be sure to address the issue of anonymity and confidentiality. 

What Information Will the Results Give Me?

You will be able to determine whether current approaches to the implementation of your program are still useful, time-efficient, and cost-effective.  You will also identify specific areas for improvement. 


Review Standard Operating Procedures

Policies and procedures vary from mediation program to mediation program.  However, a list of some that are commonly found in campus conflict resolution centers is provided below.  Select one to evaluate using the guidelines below. 

·      Intake time and process                                   ●    Confidentiality

·      Response time                                                 ●    Mediation process

·      Mediator assignment                                       ●    Reporting

·      Definition/type/style of mediation model used to resolve conflicts

1.  Specific Steps: think about the following two areas:

a.  How do you implement your policy or procedure?

b.  What specifically is involved?

Listed below are sample questions to ask about a specific policies and procedures.  These can be used as a guide for evaluating your selected policy/procedure; modify as needed. 

Intake Time and Process

a.   What formal steps are involved in processing an Intake call from first contact to follow-up?

b.   What informal steps are involved?

c.   What forms, if any, are used?

d.   How many people are involved?  What are their roles?

Confidentiality

a.   Who explains confidentiality policy to disputants?

b.   When is this explanation provided?

c.   How is it provided (e.g., verbally, written)? 

d.   How, when, and by whom is confidentiality discussed with office-relevant persons, e.g., mediators, volunteers, staff? 

e.   What forms, if any, are used when explaining confidentiality to disputants/office persons?

Response Time

a.   How much time (hours, days) passes before an initial query is responded to by someone in your office?

b.   What is the range of response time from intake call to mediation?

Mediation Process

a.   Describe the style of mediation or model of intervention used by mediators and volunteers.

b.   How does an intake call move to mediation?  Outline the steps involved.  

c.   What steps and policies are involved in conducting mediation in person?

d.   What steps and policies are involved in conducting mediation over the phone?

e.   What steps and policies are involved in conducting mediation via e-mail?

f.   What steps are involved in explaining mediation and rules of mediation to participants?

g.   What is the range of time involved for mediations from beginning to final agreement?

Mediator Assignment

a.   What are the standard policies concerning mediation by volunteers on your campus?

b.   How are mediators (paid and volunteer) selected to be mediators with your program?

c.   What criteria and process are used to assign a case to a mediator?

Reporting

a.   What data about the disputants are collected? Saved?

b.   How are these data saved?

c.   What policies/procedures are in place concerning client written information?

d.   What format is used for reporting client data (e.g., # mediations, ethnicity of clients)?

2.  Credibility of Policy:  Review the steps identified in Step 1.  Which, if any, contribute to your office having trust in the procedure/policy?  Another way to think about this is what makes this policy/procedure credible? 

3.  Goals of Policy:  Think about  the following two questions.  See Table 1 for examples. 

      a.  What are the main goals of this policy or procedure?

b.  How will you know when you have achieved the specified goal(s) (i.e., what are the visible criteria or measures that indicate a goal has been met?).

Table 1:  Examples of policies/procedures, their goals, and achievement criteria

Policy/Procedure

Goal/Why have it

Achievement Criteria

Confidentiality Policy

Client privacy

No leaks of information

Mediator training

Mediator integrity

High client satisfaction

No mediators in jail

Intake process

Speedy service response

Client empowerment

Shorter time from intake to mediation

High client satisfaction

Presentations

Get the word out

More requests for information

4.  Optional Questions:  The following questions are intended to provide greater focus for your evaluation.  Which to use is somewhat dependent on you goals/reasons for conducting a process evaluation and for whom the data are gathered. 

If goal is:

a.  Clarification—Consider whether the current way of doing things would provide the necessary information for:

-       mediators/volunteers who are supposed to implement the policy/procedure

-       disputants/clients participating in the process

To collect this type of information consider using either an interview or self-report survey with mediators and clients.

b.  Client Comprehension—consider whether:

-       clients have a comprehensive understanding of the mediation process in general; and,

-       clients have a comprehensive understanding of specific questions they might have.

To collect this information consider asking your clients through interview or self-report techniques.

c.  Procedural Integrity—Consider whether:

-       you have an internal review process for making sure steps are being followed internally by staff and volunteers;

-       you have an external review process the procedures by clients and stakeholders; and,

-       you know whether steps are being followed. 

To collect this information consider doing an internal review with mediators/department staff or an external review with clients/stakeholders. 

5.  Final Re-evaluation —Now that you have conducted an evaluation of the steps involved in a particular policy or procedure, consider whether any of the steps require revision/change in light of this evaluation data.