Most people get confused about standard operating procedures. What is more challenging is how to define it, the SOP types available, and how to write them. So, what are standard operating procedures?
What are SOPs?
These are processes that a company implements and uses. They come in the form of a document, and employees and management can refer to and ensure all their products and services are delivered as promised. That is not all, and the same SOPs help the company comply with all the regulations, operational laws, and how to complete all tasks.
These procedures are practical for start-ups, especially when making decisions for the business, operations, and even the employees. The different SOP types applicable in organizations help with effective communication between various parties. Its requirements and format are dependent on the other industries, their activities, and the governing bodies.
The standard operating procedure is a detailed guideline that helps to enhance performance, improve efficiency, and boost the quality of products and services of a business. Most people refer to it as a step-by-step document to eliminate any guesswork and complete allassignments with ease. Employees will not waste any time on what they need to do and how to deliver work.
What is the Standard Operating Procedure in Business?
They are procedures that guide business operations and other activities. It depends on different industry activities and standards, such as internal specifications. You can use the documents to know how to perform various tasks. The SOPs come in other forms, such as online, print, or words.
Types of SOPs
There are various ways of writing the standard operating procedures. Below find some of the common SOP types:
- Step-by-Step SOPs
It is the most straightforward way of writing SOPs, and it comes as a checklist that is easy to follow when executing organizational tasks. It explains all the steps in a simple way for all the employees to follow and deliver work effectively. It is applicable for simple tasks that need the same manner of execution. The only downfall is that it is not suitable for complicated processes that need decision-making.
- Hierarchical SOPs
It is the SOP meant for complex procedures that will need more information and structure. For instance, when the step-by-step SOP comes in steps like 1, 2, and 3, this SOP will have more details like 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b. That is not all, and it comes with additional information and comes with a bullet or checklist.
The SOP works well when you need an extra layer of instruction on how to complete a task. That is why you can add more steps in an orderly way and format to avoid any lengthy descriptions.
The challenge is that it can be time-consuming and not applicable to business types that need decision-making in a business.
- Flowchart SOPs
They are the most visual SOP meant for multiple outcomes with a specific thought process. The result of the one-step process will determine the following consecutive steps. Flowchart SOP works best for various scenarios to visualize the workflow and quickly offer solutions. You will avoid confusing your employees with complex processes that have different outcomes.
It helps businesses reduce wastage, eliminate any business challenges, generate more income, and improve business with well-arranged steps performance. The biggest challenge with flowcharts is that sometimes it may appear messy hence confusing the users. You need to ensure you have a well-thought process with better structures.
- Management SOPs
It is a document that explains how to write and manage any new SOP. Most of the time, it acts as a template on how each SOP needs structuring and how any new standard operating procedure requires consistency in delivery.
It comes as a presentation guide or layout and becomes easy to approve, control, review, and implement. It is helpful for organizations that have large operations with technical SOPs. The main downfall is that it needs extra work with regular updates and reviews.
How to Write SOPs
It is the responsibility of each manager to think about the SOP they will implement clearly. These are the instructions that will help avoid downtime and mistakes.
- The first step is for the organization to collect valuable data to help with the procedures. It should come with an exact explanation for work that happens to completion. It will help if you have an outline of your goals in this stage.
- Choose your desired format. The organization or business can rely on their previous templates if they do not wish to use new ones. In case you need a new design, you can use some of the common types explained above. All you need to know is that the format is dependent on the business requirements and processes.
- Involve your employees if you have any since they will be the people performing the tasks. Their input matters a lot, and it will be helpful when implementing SOPs. Employee involvement is critical to change management and a sure way of completing all their tasks.
- It is always advisable to define the scope; the applicability of your SOP needs a clear explanation. Outline the business processes that you plan to use with the SOP.
- Know your target users, and it will help to know about the language to use, level of experience, familiarity with your organization, and the roles to execute. You will be in a better position to assign appropriate tasks to each employee.
- Come up with the SOP and include all the notes stated above.
- Review, test and edit the SOP. You can do that by sending it to team member for review. They will try it and see if you will achieve your goals. The suggestions given helps to improve the final draft. After acceptance and approval, it is time to proceed.
- The last step will be to implement SOP after approval of the SOP document. It should be accessible to all employees to be trained on how to implement the SOPs. It is the responsibility of the management to monitor it and see if employees are complying with it. Ensure there are regular reviews on performance and pick up any changes.
SOP creating is an effective way to ensure that employees use their efforts and talents to the maximum limit. Always ensure your team or employees have access to the standard operating procedures for on-time work delivery and minimum wastage. SOP helps to overcome challenges, know how to handle them hence better productivity. You need to know the format or type you need based on your company and implement it. For easy accessibility, you can invest in SOP management systems for centralized distribution.