Standard operating procedures will help your business run like a well-oiled machine. But what are they and how do you write one? Stick with us to find out.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document of rules, regulations, and guidelines for operating through certain situations and circumstances that occur in an organization. They are especially important for small business owners to consider when growing their team.
These procedures can be day-to-day tasks, information on chain of command, trainings, or preparation for emergencies. While it is a good idea to have these in place before you begin business operations, it is never too late to implement an SOP.
It is important to create SOPs for your business so it is in the best position to run smoothly and compliantly. It is key that your team understand expectations and to what standard they are being held.
Standard operating procedures also ensure that each of your employees is trained in the same way, so that your business is conducted consistently. SOPs are a way to set precedent and expectations for yourself and your employees.
The more employees understand expectations, the more your business will have the opportunity to avoid miscommunication and increase productivity.
Yes, you read that right. The whole point of a standard operating procedure is to ensure consistency and set precedent in your business. In order to achieve that, it is important for your guiding documents to have consistency as well. The final product is ultimately up to you, but here are some suggestions for an order of what to include in each SOP:
Again, the specifics will be up to you, but it will make future creation a more streamlined process if you create some kind of template from the start.
Hiring can often be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Your hiring SOP documents should include:
Once you have completed the hiring process, you need to have a system for preparing your new employees. OnboardingSOPs can include:
Day-to-day job functions will look quite different for each industry. However, there are still overarching topics and routine tasks for a system of operations that can apply to any type of business. Here are some to consider:
Whether you work in-person or work from home, creating a system for performance reviews can help your business run efficiently and promote quality assurance. When employees know they are being held to a standard, it reminds them of accountability. When employees are able to set a goal and work towards it, they are able to monitor and see progress. As a business owner, being able to provide your employees with feedback is a way to strengthen relationships. When creating a system for performance reviews, consider:
Creating a safe workplace for your employees is a major factor in employee retention because employees deserve to feel safe at work. Safety does not only cover physical wellbeing, but mental health as well. In order to work towards a safe work environment, employees need to know the expectations for conduct and how to report concerns. Health and safety protocols to have in place include:
Creating a standard operating procedure might feel like a daunting task, but we are here to provide you with some types and tricks for writing detailed instructions.
Backwards planning is a strategy used often in education. Teachers use this strategy when building out units to promote authentic learning. When writing your SOPs, think of yourself as a teacher and your employees as your students.
The “backwards” part of backwards planning comes in because instead of starting at go, you look at the finish line and work backwards. In other words, begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself:
Backwards planning will help to ensure that you are creating intentional steps for your employees to take to reach the end goal. When backwards planning you will:
Systems of operations lend themselves to various formats depending on what you want your team members to learn. Some operations are best laid out with words, while others might be much more effective through charts, graphs, or tables. Check out these formats:
Like any other writing process, perfecting a system of operations will take time. Your first draft should not be the same as your final draft. It is necessary to have more than one set of eyes on the SOP document, as you need to test it out before you complete the final literature.
A task that might seem very clearly mapped out to you, might not be as clear for someone else. As you draft your process, keep in mind that there are many different types of learning styles:
Because there are different types of learners, make sure to test out your systems on multiple people. This sets you up to avoid miscommunication in your SOPs. Collect honest feedback and edit accordingly. Then continue that feedback process until multiple learners can learn their respective business operations.
In order for your SOPs to be effective, they must be clear. This is why it is necessary to run them through many editing processes. In addition to that, you need to make sure that your SOPs include:
These days, things move fast. While standard operating procedures are meant to stand the test of time, you do need to be aware of potential changes. Always stay up-to-date on industry regulations and policies, so you can implement new SOPsas your business grows.
Yes! Again, writing SOPs can be a big undertaking. If you like implementing technology platforms to promote automation within your business processes, then these are for you. Here are a few platforms to consider that include SOP templates and digital operations:
When building, maintaining, and growing your business, one of the most useful strategies you can adopt is to create standard operating procedures. This will ensure:
There are platforms that can help you do this, or you can create your own templates that include roadmaps for your essential business workflows. When you are creating your standard operating procedures, always keep your business, employees, and customers in mind.
Outsourced professionals can be a great resource when you require additional assistance to successfully complete a project. Read more to learn everything you need to know about outsourcing.
Interested in hiring a subcontractor? Keep reading to discover what they do and how they can help your business.
There are endless types of strategies in business. Two central approaches are corporate strategy and business strategy. Find out the key benefits and differences of each.