Standard Operating Procedure is a document containing step-by-step instructions that help operators complete complex routine operations.
Standardization is an activity that provides solutions for many disciplines. The activity generally consists of the process of determining, devising, and implementing standards.
Definition of a Standard Operating Procedure
A standard Operating Procedure is an exclusive procedure describing the necessary activities to complete tasks per company regulations or personal conditions for running your business. The main aim of SOP’s is to achieve efficiency and quality output of performance. The SOP can be a PowerPoint presentation, a written hard-copy document, or any other communication method that gets the point across. There is no need to use SOP’s for every detail of the day, but where legal compliance, health, or safety are essential, it has its uses.
There are different types of SOPs
- Production and operations
- Finance and administration
- Marketing, sales, and customer service
- Employing staff
- Legal SOPs
Writing a standard operating procedure involves a team as you cannot have all ideas. It also includes your employees. You should also have your customers’ best interests in mind when writing SOPs, even though they don’t take part in the creation of the document.
The components of a standard operating procedure are;
- Table of Contents
- Roles and responsibilities
- Supplementary information
The SOP contains information on the procedures of carrying out a process, the company objectives, staff rules and regulations, health and safety measures, dates, and signatures of the people involved in the creation and approval of the document.
Standard Operating Procedures And Process Are Not The Same
Both processes and procedures contain step-by-step guidelines to help you perform a specific task. However, a process usually works at a much higher level. A standard operating procedure takes elements of high-level functions and adds more detail to adhere to industry or company standards.
Purpose of Standard Operating Procedure
The purpose of standard operating procedures is to ensure that all workers are undertaking tasks in the same way. This condition ensures tasks are completed in the same way every time. This way, testing the impact of changing many process parameters by running controlled experiments becomes possible. A well-written title should be expanded by the objective of a standard operating procedure. Employees usually refer to the SOP’s system guidelines if they are unsure of the task they are undertaking.
Types of Standard Operating Procedures
Productions and Operations: These include instructions on inspecting procedures, production line steps, and maintenance of types of equipment.
Finance and Administration: These contain guidelines on the collection and billing process and maximizing cash flow while meeting all payment deadlines.
Customer service, Sales and Marketing: These include instructions on customer complaints resolutions, policies on the exchange, refunds or warranties, response time and service deliveries, and sales quote preparations and external communication approval.
Staff Employment: This type of SOP consists of disciplinary actions against employees for breaking the rules, performance reviews, the orientation of employees, training, job description, and social media use for business purposes.
Legal Standard Operating Procedures: Privacy policies are required to indicate the information you will collect, reasons for collecting it, how you will use it, and the period you will keep the information on that file. Ensure the people in the organization are only asking for information that they need to do their job.
Critical components of Standard Operating Procedures
- Title – A title should contain information that identifies the activity or procedure, the department’s name, the branch to which the SOP applies, and the dates and signatures of the people who approved and prepared the SOP.
- Table of Contents – The table of contents is essential for quick reference for locating information, especially if the SOP is long. A table of contents makes navigation easy.
- Purpose – The purpose defines the intent of the document and should be one or two sentences long. Users should be able to recognize what the form covers, so it needs to be detailed enough.
- Scope – This defines what or whom the specific set of procedures applies to. Specify the range of the process you are documenting. Scoping simplifies the SOP. You offer everyone the same understanding point by stating who is and who is not in the scope.
- Terminologies – Clarify any terms that are unfamiliar to users and spell out any abbreviations and acronyms. A word familiar to you might not be typical to them. Defining terms helps readers understand your procedure without doing further research.
- Roles and Responsibilities – Define the parts involved in executing activities within the procedure. Consider narrowing the scope if there are a large number of roles listed by creating multiple SOPs to complete the task.
- Procedure – Your SOP should include only the steps necessary for completing the objective of the process, individual action steps within each step, and notes provided separately for clarification of the information.
- Supplementary Information – It can contain information about anything depending on the process—for example, health and safety warnings.
- Metrics – Measuring process efficiency is useful. You can always check the efficiency of the process over time by defining the metrics in your SOP. For example, metrics may help you discover that there might be something wrong with the machinery if a process is not as efficient as usual.
Writing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
Set the goal of the SOP with your team
You may have a good idea of what the procedure consists of, but you may not know the small details that can affect the outcome. To get the process correctly, you need to consult the employees that do it regularly. It would help if you had a clear answer on why you are creating the document. Identify any existing obstacles in your organization’s process to allow you to be more specific in determining how productive your team will be with SOPs in place.
Any person who will be impacted by the Sop should have some say in the creation of the document. It would help if you also determined who will be responsible for writing the form. It would be best if you also kept the customers’ interests in mind even though they are not involved in creating the document.
Define the scope of the standard operating procedure
The final result might end up being too complicated if you don’t define the scope when you start documenting the process. It is also an essential step because processes are sometimes interconnected. Go with the simplest form necessary for the circumstance at hand.
Creating the documentation is the bulk work of writing a standard operating procedure. Describe the operational procedures to be followed when completing a particular task. Make your instructions detailed and clear, and then allow employees to get to work. Minimize any uncertainty that may exist within the instructions.
Include any imagery, i.e., diagrams or illustrations that may complement your written documentation.
List any necessary information
Can include things like methodology (the right way of carrying out the process), the necessary tools needed to complete a step in a process, or safety and health warnings that have information on if the process can be hazardous to someone’s health as well as any necessary precautions for working.
Define the metrics, improve and implement standard operating procedure
Though there are benefits to be gained from improving the process, most companies don’t revisit their strategies after defining them.
You can’t improve something you can’t measure; therefore, you need to define the right metrics.
It would help if you implemented the SOP by making it easily accessible for all your employees. Put it online on a sharing software where your employees have access or print it out and distribute them.
Download Standard Operating ProcedureTemplates
Writing an SOP from scratch can be very tiring and time-consuming. Download our free and premium templates for useful guidance and to make work much easier. Our professionally designed templates are guaranteed to make you draft an effective standard operating procedure to help your employees complete even the most complicated tasks.
Standard Operating Procedure Template Word
SOP Word Template
Frequently Asked Questions
It is a document containing step-by-step instructions that help workers complete complex operations.
Its purpose is to ensure that all workers are undertaking tasks in the same way, every time.
SOP helps to achieve quality and efficient output of performance, reducing miscommunication, and failure to adhere to industry regulations.
A study director is responsible for writing standard operating procedures.
SOPs contain procedures for carrying out processes, legal information, health and safety measures, sales policies, dates, and signatures of people who created and approved the SOP, company information, and objectives.
A standard operating procedure is a document that contains instructions that help workers complete a complicated task. It ensures workers are completing tasks in the same manner every time. It reduces miscommunication by ensuring quality and efficient output of performance.