How to Write SOPs That Make Business Easy
by ALEX BERG
The term SOPs stands for Standard Operating Procedures. SOPs are more than just a list of documented procedures. An organization’s personnel are given step-by-step instructions in a standard operating procedure (SOP) document on how to carry out a complex, repeated task.
An SOP is a procedure that is unique to your operation and lists the steps that must be taken to carry out duties in compliance with industry standards, local ordinances, or even merely your own rules for conducting business. Any publication that offers instructions falls under the group of techniques.
Are You Looking to Write SOPs
You undoubtedly already have some excellent procedures in place. How can you be confident that every member of your team is aware of and adhering to this process?
Yes, you create an SOP and detail each stage of this procedure so that both seasoned team members and newcomers can follow it.
Consider having access to SOPs from the finest companies around the world so that your team could rapidly pick them up, use them, and follow the steps to achieve the same results. For instance, increased revenue. Anyone with no prior expertise could succeed by simply adhering to the SOP.
How to Create a Successful SOP
It’s not simple to develop the SOP for any business procedure. However, the work you put in now will have a significant long-term impact on your business.
Making a list of the procedures for which SOPs should be created is the first order of business.
Here are a few techniques you could try first,
- Settling in new hires
- Taking care of customer refunds
- Processing requests for leave from employees
- Equipment maintenance and repair
- The creation of business proposals
- Releasing workers
- Carrying out internal audits
As an alternative, you could also ask staff members to list the typical duties they complete in an internal survey.
The various SOPs formats are,
- Step-by-step SOP
- Hierarchical SOP
Choose the format for your standard operating procedure that will work best for you and your company. The most frequent ones can be simple or complex depending on how broad or narrow the standard operating procedure’s scope is. The SOP format you use will depend on your target audience, purpose, and level of detail. Depending on their complexity, some business processes are more suited for particular types than others.
Let’s explore each SOP format in more detail.
Simple and low-complexity standard operating procedures are ideal. Key steps are shared straightforwardly in an easy-to-read overview. When using a straightforward SOP format, you should limit the document to three to five sections and include the following
- An explanation of the goal
- A brief explanation with step-by-step instructions in bullet points or a table
- Listing the individuals in charge of each task
A hierarchical SOP breaks down corporate procedures from the top down.
- The policy specifies the parameters of an SOP.
- Procedures describe the stages to finish a process and the roles of the participants. This is the process’s “what” and “who.”
- Additional guidelines are given to meet quality standards. This describes a process’ “how.”
- Documentation establishes a record-keeping system to make sure that internal policies and industry laws are followed.
Best for flexible scope standard operating procedures
Using a flowchart SOP format is effective for outlining both straightforward and intricate processes. The length of SOPs that include a flowchart varies. They require a few crucial elements, such as
- mission statement or introduction
- a flowchart or graphic that explains in simple terms what happens in possible situations
- who is accountable for each step
Assemble the necessary stakeholders
SOPs shouldn’t be developed ad hoc. You should have open communication with the individuals already in charge of carrying out the tasks if you’re developing them to document specific workflows, tasks, and processes.
If you oversee a team that already does the duties you wish to document daily, you should acquire an understanding of best practices from them and include these in your SOPs.
In addition to increasing expertise and oversight over the job, cooperatively developing your procedures will also provide the employees who will use them a greater sense of ownership.
Identify Your Purpose
It’s important to think about your problem areas if your SOPs are just documentation of current procedures and processes. Finding out what you could do to improve your current methods if they are failing you. It’s possible that the current system is working too slowly or isn’t creating goods of a high enough caliber.
As you develop your standard operating procedures, consider your goals. If they are brand-new, you are attempting to create useful systems. Make sure the processes’ priorities coincide with those of the business if you would like them to operate effectively.
Choose Your Target
Without knowing the audience for which you are writing an SOP, it can be challenging. To better understand who your audience is, ask the following questions
- Will anyone read the SOP?
- Are these brand-new workers?
- What prior information do they possess?
- How many people are in your audience?
You can develop SOPs that are more successful if you are aware of your audience. You might want to use simpler language and stay away from technical jargon when writing SOPs for new employees.
Maintain a Unified Style
It bears repeating that if you work for a massive corporation, your soaps will be far more formal than those of your three-person startup team. Depending on the situation, you might or might not use professional formal language.
No matter what business you work for, the following advice is applicable
- Start your sentences with commands to take action; always start a task-related sentence with a verb. This kind of wording is impactful for your audience and clearly expresses what you need to do.
- Be succinct and try to avoid rambling in a SOPs document. Make sure your writing is precise and only conveys the most important facts.
- Don’t let readers dig through paragraphs of material to locate what they need in your SOPs; instead, make it scannable. Put the actionable sections in first, followed by the explanation. To divide up your material, use headers.
Once you’ve documented your process, it’s time to identify potential trouble spots. Where in the execution of your SOP is a failure most likely to occur?
You can perform the calculations to determine whether your SOP is effective if you’re using it to document a production process. Perhaps your method produces a huge volume of output, but it has issues with distribution. Each firm is unique, thus difficulties are likely to present themselves in various ways.
Draft the SOP
It is now time to draft the SOP. To make sure you don’t overlook any important information, you should seek firsthand understanding from the persons concerned before taking any action. Bring the group together and obtain their feedback. Once you begin developing an SOP, their feedback will be extremely helpful.
SOPs frequently consist of the following
Header the process’s name, document number, and version should all be included. To help people locate the SOP, be sure to include relevant keywords.
Purpose writes down the SOP’s purpose or intention. One or two sentences should be all that is necessary.
Scope defines the limits of the method, including the areas it covers and doesn’t.
Definitions explain any acronyms or words that the staff might not be familiar with.
Citations and documents:
Citations and documents give a list of any references that workers might need to finish the task.
Functions and obligations:
Functions and oblidgations to ensure accountability, specify the roles and responsibilities of individuals involved in the process.
Methodology dissects the entire procedure and provides thorough directions for each phase.
Before you make the final version, ask your team to examine the draft. Once you’ve documented your process, it’s time to identify potential trouble spots. Where in the execution of your SOP is a failure most likely to occur? Last but not least, be sure to review your SOP at least once or twice a year to make sure everything is up to current.
Publish your SOP
Your SOP is now prepared to be finished and put into practice in your company. Your SOPs will undoubtedly enhance your operations if you’ve followed these guidelines from beginning to end.
When your standard operating procedure is finished, you must inform your employees of the new documents and make sure they are followed.
Make a roll-out plan, implement it, and let the staff know that the SOPs are changing. Launch parties and training sessions to introduce your staff to the new SOPs.
SOPs are useful instruments for standardizing routine tasks connected to the workplace. Many operations depend on forms, but managing these workflows is difficult without the correct tools.
You can streamline and document operations like order processing, contract approvals, and more with the use of workflow automation tools.
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