How to Write Good Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)?Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes
Table of Contents
- What Is a Standard Operating Procedure?
- Various Types of Standard Operating Procedures
- Why is a Standard Operating Procedure Important?
- Writing a Standard Operating Procedure: A Step-by-Step Guide
A business or organization of any size has a lot of moving components. The distinction between a successful business and one that isn't is often whether or not these several "components" are operating in perfect sync. It might mean the difference between a perfectly tuned system and one that is constantly breaking down—and finally falling apart. Your team members must work together at all times for your company to function smoothly—literally and figuratively. A standard operating procedure, or SOP, comes in handy in this situation.
What Is a Standard Operating Procedure?
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a type of document that outlines how teams and individuals of an organization should go about accomplishing specific tasks. It is a document that guides new as well as current employees on how to carry out routine tasks and maintain consistency and quality. SOP documentation is far more complex than a primary procedure manual. The critical distinction is that process documentation is intended to provide a high-level overview of the process in the issue. In contrast, SOPs provide a detailed description of what has to happen to guarantee that a process runs smoothly. Organizations need standard operating procedure documentation because it helps them to standardize their operations, keep all team members and other stakeholders on the same page at all times, and move ahead in a unified, cohesive way.
Various Types of Standard Operating Procedures
While you can tailor your standard operating procedures to your company's needs, most SOPs follow one of the following approaches:
One of the simplest ways to write a standard operating procedure (SOP) document is to use a checklist or to-do list. You can create the checklists for your employees and share them in your internal knowledge base using knowledge management software like PHPKB so that they can access the required checklist, print it, and use it whenever required. Checklists are the simplest to make since all you have to do is establish a header and add pertinent checklist items for employees to follow to finish the assignment.
A step-by-step bullet list works similarly to checklists in that it describes a method in meaningful, easy-to-follow steps. An employee making a to-do list If the work for which you are developing SOP is simple, these lists may be sufficient to complete the process quickly.
Lists Arranged in A Hierarchy
You may construct hierarchical checklists or bullet lists if your procedures are more complicated and require more information. If you can't explain a task in a single step but don't want to make the SOP too long, adding hierarchical phases might help.
Flowcharts are an excellent method for graphically illustrating how a process works and providing more context for the workflow. A flowchart also demonstrates how one phase relates to the next, assisting employees in grasping the whole concept and gaining a more excellent knowledge of the task they are performing.
Why is a Standard Operating Procedure Important?
Organizations need standard operating procedure documentation because it helps them to organize their operations, keep all team members and other stakeholders on the same page at all times, and move ahead in a unified, cohesive way.
Consider the consequences of not developing SOP documentation. It leaves too much to risk: there's no guarantee that best practices will always be followed, that all team members will remain aligned, or that the business will continue to operate in a good and productive manner.
Writing a Standard Operating Procedure: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you understand what a standard operating procedure is and why your company needs one, it's time to develop one. Before you can begin to record your standard operating procedures, you'll need to put in a lot of time and work. The following are the main steps to creating a solid standard operating procedure document:
Make A List of Your Company's Processes
The primary step in creating an SOP is determining which tasks, processes, or workflows require an SOP. Conduct a poll or have your workers fill out a form describing the jobs they perform daily. It will act as the foundation for your standard operating procedure (SOP) document's list. Once you've compiled a list, go through it with other managers to see any repeats. On PHPKB, a checklist may be created, published, and sent to the staff.
Determine The Creators and Stakeholders
All people who will be involved with or affected by SOP should have a say in its design. In general, your SOP development team should include the following individuals:
- C-level executives, who will concentrate on establishing lean operations to meet high-level business objectives
- Management leaders must create best practices, specify the resources and equipment you must use, and devise a strategy for executing SOPs.
- Employees on the ground to assess the SOP's validity and plausibility in logistics and resource usage.
You'll also have to figure out who will be accountable for actually producing the paper. The finest program for writing standard operating procedures is PHPKB. You may provide the program with in-depth information on your firm's procedures by inputting them, allowing it to generate the appropriate SOPs for your company.
Select A Format
Your company likely has some standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place from previous processes. Those documents can be used as templates to guide your current SOP. If not, discuss with your employees to determine whether you should make a list of actions, construct a checklist, create process diagrams, or do a combination of the three!
Determine Your Target Audience
To create a fantastic SOP document, you must first understand your target audience. To obtain a sense of your audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are they brand-new recruits?
- What is the approximate audience size?
- What background knowledge do they have?
- Is there an SOP in place?
The more information you possess about your target audience, the more you will know their viewpoints and develop an SOP relevant to them.
Work Together with Your Employees
SOPs are written with the end-user in mind, i.e., workers. It's a no-brainer to involve your staff in this process. You can't truly comprehend your employees' problems and issues until you talk to them and solicit their candid opinions and recommendations. Use PHPKB to bring your complete team together on a single page and collaborate efficiently.
Get Down to Writing
After you've met with your staff and have enough data points to begin, go straight to your knowledge management software and begin taking notes for the new SOP in a new knowledge base article. After you've finished producing the draft, go through it with your staff and management to get their thoughts and input. It is also an excellent opportunity to outline who will be in charge of updating and maintaining the standard operating procedures and when you will perform a periodic review to assess engagement.
Because standard operating procedures are text-heavy, it is beneficial if they are written in plain language so that your audience can easily understand them. Keep things simple by avoiding technical language, wordiness, and complexity. While several editors are available, adopting a knowledge base management software such as PHPKB ensures that you have one centralized location where you can quickly create, save, publish, share, and manage all of your SOPs and knowledge documents. So, get your team together and begin developing your standard operating procedures right away!