A business is primarily a set of processes. When you create an SOP, you’re defining the best way to get things done.
Since there’s no need to create SOPs from scratch every time, it’s best to create an SOP template to use in the future.
What is Standard Operating Procedure document?
Standard operating procedure is a document containing step-by-step instructions to guide employees on how to perform a technical, repetitive process within an organization. Think of it as a playbook for how to get a task done.
Each person has his or her own way of doing things, and without guidelines people might complete the job in different ways.
For example, HR might create an SOP for new employees to follow.
Standard operating procedures can help you run more efficiently and ultimately save money. For example, manufacturers can create standard operating procedures for team members to manage machine maintenance. Having a checklist in place that needs to be reviewed daily can avoid unplanned downtime due to equipment.
An SOP document has the following purpose:
- To create consistency in the company, you need to get all team members aligned with your company practices.
- The goal of a procedure is to make sure that every employee consistently follows the same steps when performing a particular task.
- Product or service with consistent quality
- If people have an established procedure to follow, they’re less likely to make costly errors.
- You can track your progress on a schedule.
- Check FDA regulations for food manufacturers
What Is an SOP template document?
An SOP template is a preformatted document that helps companies writing operating procedures.
A company may have many different kinds of templates, written by different people, reflecting methods of using a variety of tools. An SOP is like a standard font and spacing, so it makes every one of the documents consist with each other structurally.
A template system for writing SOPs forces you to include all the information that’s necessary for your employees to complete their tasks.
Recent events have demonstrated the importance of SOP templates and best practices. When COVID-19 emerged, many businesses had to quickly create new operating procedures to avoid lawsuits. Having a template on hand enabled swift changes to processes that support business continuity.
This article teaches you how to write an SOP template
A template can make it easier to write SOPs for every task that needs one. The first step is to set a style and layout. From fonts to line spacing to sections, this will provide a framework upon which detailed information can be provided for.
Then, make sure your template’s form contains all the information your employees would need.
For your SOP, include:
- Every SOP will be unique because it will reflect whatever process, procedure, or job you’re outlining.
- Companies usually have a statement of their mission or vision statement.
- This section will cover the purpose of the SOP and the process it covers.
- Each SOP should list the people it’s intended for, what roles and responsibilities they have, and how to get in touch with them.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are designed to ensure uniformity in how employees carry out particular tasks.
- This section is where the procedure is broken down into step-by-step instructions with relevant information, like specific equipment used. For some processes this might be a visual representation, like a flowchart.
- Checklists are a simple method for ensuring a task is completed.
A case study on how to manage a construction project
The Georgia Department of Transportation employs 3,817 people to build and maintain 123,546 miles of highway. In order to keep their operations running smoothly, they have created a master guide that details how they should be operating each day.
As a department, we have a standard “how to” for every task we complete. This allows us to manage large projects simply and efficiently.
8 Tips for creating an effective standard operating procedure
It is important to consider what processes are complex enough to benefit from written specifications and best practices.
The more flexible and efficient your internal processes become, the more money you’ll have to put into growth initiatives.
Here are 8 tips for creating an effective SOP:
- Identify the people you are addressing. The audience will guide the details you include in your SOPs and the level of technical language.
- Always break down processes into logical steps. This will make it easier to review them later, and easier for other people to follow them.
- Use simple language and be brief. Use the active voice to engage your employees. Clean the machine after every use.
- Before you put together a SOP, interview your employees to make sure you’re covering every step in the process.
- Most businesses distribute SOPs on a digital platform because a mobile workplace app allows for easier access.
- Using illustrations, flow charts, or photographs can convey a complex process quickly and easily.
- Use several other people to run through the steps to verify that the SOP is clear and complete.
- Employ a process for updating your standard operating procedure in response to change in the company.
Why it’s important to use an SOP employee app
A digital workplace that’s designed to work on mobile devices can make sure everyone has the SOPs they need.
Workplace apps are a great way to store and share procedures. In a digital format, they can be built in a user friendly format like checklists, so workers can easily record what they did and when.
Another benefit to digital SOPs is that they can be easily translated into a reader’s preferred language, since a company with a diverse workforce will typically have workers who speak multiple languages.
Here are some ways a digital platform can help an SOP reach more people and be more effective:
- The mobile workforce app allows employees to instantly access any document on their phones.
- When employees have a sense of purpose, they’re more engaged and productive.
- If team members follow the exact steps outlined in an SOP, they can be effective.
- The read receipt feature allows managers to keep tabs on the actions of their employees and verify whether or not they are using the SOP protocols.
- Managers can improve quality by getting input and feedback from the people who are most familiar with the work; they can do this by creating an error-free SOP.
Establishing standard operating procedures and best practices can help your company achieve big returns on its operations.