Standard Operating Procedure
A standard operating procedure (SOP) template is a document that outlines the steps to take to complete a task. It can be used for anything from construction to cooking.
The beauty of an SOP is that it removes any guesswork and includes all the necessary information you need to complete your task. This can be particularly important if you have employees who work remotely or with different supervisors. In addition, an SOP template ensures that everyone working for the business understands what is required of them and gives people who may not know each other a chance to get acquainted.
Why do you need an SOP template?
Without SOPs, you will quickly find yourself in a chaotic environment where work cannot get done effectively. Here are some reasons why you require one:
- Consistency - Following the SOP's will ensure consistency in each task an individual carries out. The more consistent the work is, the fewer quality problems arise.
- Reduction of errors - When an employee follows the proper procedures to perform the task, it is less likely to commit a mistake.
- Communication - Another reason to implement SOP is your company will benefit from better communication. Updating SOP's will enhance communication among team members, which will avoid any confusion while working on projects.
- Enhanced accountability - Proper SOP's help managers track the performance of their employees and enable trust in their abilities without judging them.
Types of SOP
There are many more types of SOPs, but these are some examples of what they're like:
- Operational - Operational SOPs focus on specific processes or tasks carried out by employees, such as performing particular duties or activities within a company. The objective is to achieve efficiency, productivity while reducing miscommunications and failure to comply.
- Administrative - Administrative SOPs deal with the day-to-day operations, such as office administration and security clearance requirements for employees. Managers and leaders mostly follow these procedures to run the team effectively.
- Technical - Technical SOPs help document best practices related to technical functions like IT systems, infrastructure management, etc. Use cloud-based platforms that make all processes consistent and repeatable.
Benefits of SOP
- The benefits of having a clear and detailed set of instructions are numerous, as they help employees avoid confusion about what needs to be done and exactly how it should be completed. They also make it easier for new hires or substitutes to get up-to-speed on their tasks more quickly than if they were left guessing what jobs need doing first.
- It ensures the production process is performed effectively to maintain quality control at every stage, saving the company and customers from defects or errors.
- Well-framed SOP's ensures procedures are following government and regulatory compliance. This protects the company from potential lawsuits and liabilities that can affect the goodwill.
- While outlining the reasonable procedures, an employee can use SOP's to train their fellow employee who requires re-training or is entirely new to the process. It also serves as a checklist to track job performance and observes the under-performing or over-performing in their job.
- It acts as a historical record as to why and when steps are taken. This will make the employees understand the importance of following the procedures. As employees switch jobs, their knowledge and skills can be written that will serve as a guide to improve the experience of new workers.
Parties who have access to SOP's
- Requestor - Requestor may be a client, stakeholder, partner, an organization seeking information held by the organization. They may request access to any or kind of SOP related to governance, operations, etc.
- Access to information - An access to the information desk shall receive the requests, acknowledge them, coordinate with the respective department, and respond to the requester. It depends from one organization to another as to who will have access to the SOP.
- Responsible officer- A responsible officer shall review and verify the request raised to ensure it is genuine. If an exception or access may not be given to the requestor, the reasons will be shared with the requestor. The officer needs to document the reasons for granting or denying access to the organization.
Best practices to create SOP:
Various industries have their own set of procedures to follow when it comes to creating SOP. We will explore some standard practices followed by industries.
- Create a list of processes - First, you need to discover which tasks or workflows you need an SOP. Within your team or organization, you can survey what tasks are repetitive and what needs to be included in the document. Once you created the list, you can review it with other business leaders to look for corrections.
- Scope - The first step is coming up with the range and boundaries for your SOP. Manufacturing companies often create an organizational chart that defines who reports to whom, which tasks each person will perform regularly, and what departments are responsible for various aspects of production.
- Collaborate with employees - Remember you are creating SOP keeping your employees in mind. Always take their honest feedback and suggestions to understand the challenges and pinpoints. Use collaboration software to bring your team into a standard document.
- Make it interactive - Make sure the documents are not written in heavy words or boring. Add images, screenshots wherever required to make the procedure easy to understand. Making your SOP interactive will boost your engagement levels as employees find them helpful and enhance their productivity.
- Living documents - As processes and workflows keep changing, it is essential to periodically review your template to make sure it adapts to the changing business environment before they get outdated. Document the changes made to update any procedures.
- Determine stakeholders and groups - The SOP development team should consist of stakeholders, business leaders, employees. Management leaders should develop the best practices, determine the proper use of resources, and a formal plan to implement SOP. Keep customers in consideration while preparing the document. Customers won’t be involved in creating the record, but they are the ones who will be impacted by the SOP you have made.