Bylaws vs. Policies vs. SOPs

The SAVT has bylaws.  The SAVT has policies.  The SAVT has Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).  Each have their own purpose, their own intent, and their own rules. 

The SAVT Bylaws are the rules and regulations that oversee the association.  The bylaws outline the code of ethics; the types of memberships; the election of, terms of office for, vacancies for, powers of, and required meetings of, the board of directors; the committees; and information on meetings; and other high-level information.  The bylaws should be as streamlined as possible and not require revisions more than once every year or two.  Therefore, information or procedures that could change often or actions and decisions that are left to the discretion of the board of directors should not be included in the bylaws.   Due to the elevated nature of bylaws and the overarching impact and direction they have on the association all amendments to them must be reviewed and voted on by the membership at the annual general meeting.  At the 2018 Annual General Meeting there was a vote by the membership for large scale amendments to the bylaws that were worked on throughout 2018 by the SAVT Bylaw/Policy Committee. 

The SAVT policies are to help direct the Board of Directors in their work.  The policies are driven by practicality and do more to govern the day-to-day operations of the Board of Directors, set limits, safeguard activities, and outline the frameworks that the Board of Directors is responsible for maintaining and enforcing.  An example of a framework included in the policies is the Continuing Education policy.  Policies are updated, amended, and maintained by the Board of Directors.  Votes on policy changes can be done at any board meeting and require only the vote of the board.  Currently, all the SAVT policies are being reviewed and changes proposed to the Board of Directors in 2019 by the Bylaw/Policy Committee. 

The Standard Operating Procedures are step-by-step directions and resources that the board, volunteers, and employees have at their disposal to help them carry-out their required work, guide them towards success, and ensure the transfer of knowledge and process from board to board.  The Standard Operating Procedures are on the agenda for the Bylaw/Policy Committee in 2020. 

All SAVT Bylaws, SAVT Policies, and SAVT SOPs must work together and complement each other.  One of the documents should not contradict another and should not go against the direction of the association.  In addition to complimenting each other the documents also need to complement and adhere to the SVMA Bylaws and not contravene what is stated there as well as the overarching legislation of the Veterinarians Act, 1987.  The art of keeping track of these documents, updating them, and ensuring continuity among them falls to the Board of Directors who in turn delegate that responsibility to the Executive Director and the SAVT Bylaw/Policy Committee. 

For my visual learners out there who don’t like all the words above there is a diagram below.

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