Understanding Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs)
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a step-by-step guide that explains how an employee’s work process should be carried out. Due to the numerous benefits they offer, most businesses and companies have SOPs.
It’s important to note that some SOPs might have a two-tiered system i.e. it has both the procedures and work instructions. The procedures explain the higher level steps, while the work instructions give a detailed explanation of the tasks required. These types of SOPs are ideal for businesses or companies whose organizational structure, application software or equipment change often because the work instructions need to be updated regularly.
How do you design an SOP?
Although SOPs may vary depending on the organization or employees’ responsibilities, believe it or not, but if you don’t have the time or resources to create your own SOPs, you can get an SOP template free of charge.
Normally, to design an SOP, you need to answer specific questions that will help you determine who does what and when in your organization. If you’re not willing to design an SOP on your own, you can opt to look for a free SOP template online. However, you may have to make a few changes to the template to suit your organization.
Alternatively, you can hire a professional to do it for you. You just need to share the organizational structure of your business or company and let them really know what you are looking for. These SOP experts can help you with design your SOPs if you’re busy, however they’re typically fairly expensive to hire.
How do you write an SOP?
If you opt to DIY, here are the vital steps you should follow:
- Gathering information – the first step entails gathering information from the people (stakeholders) in your organization. This will help you determine where they work (department/sector), what they do, and when they do it … as well as any other information you should know. It’s advisable to get as many details as possible when gathering information.
- Plan the format and process – there are numerous SOP formats you can use. Ergo, research and plan the format before you start writing.
- Start writing – when you start writing the SOP, you should start with the procedure and details of the operation. Include all the details you can to avoid missing any steps.
- Review the draft – you can make several copies to review with other managers and/or employees. This gives you a chance to make changes or fix any mistakes you could’ve missed.
The last step involves writing the final copy of the SOP and sharing it with the employees. If you’re the manager, you should emphasize that your employees follow the guidelines at all times in order to get the best results.
By effectively utilizing SOPs, your business can run more effectively, efficiently, and increase its profits!