No matter the size or shape of your business, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are as important for your business as much as having a free time is important to you. In fact, having well defined SOPs will allow you to take stuff off your full plate and hand them over to your employees thus freeing time for you to focus more on strategically leading your business than just running its daily operations.
What is the purpose of SOPs?
SOP is a set of written, step-by-step instructions of a certain routine business operation to ensure that the completed tasks are in accordance with the law, industry regulation and the standards of your own business. Examples of SOPs include a guideline on how to train a new employee or detailed instructions on how to provide a service your business sells to clients. SOPs can be in a form of policies and standards you need to have in your administration, customer service, marketing, and finance to name a few.
Having SOPs contribute to:
- increased efficiencies leading to greater profitability
- fewer mistakes leading to reduced waste
- consistency in the offered product or service
- safe and healthy environment
- faster issue resolution
- increased value of your business if you wish to sell it.
How to start writing SOPs?
Now that you are completely convinced that you should have SOPs in your business, where do you start writing them? Follow these 10 easy tips to produce high-quality SOPs:
- Before you start writing the SOP, identify the answers to these questions: ‘Who does what?’ ‘What do they do?” and ‘What is the outcome when they do it?’
- Lay out all the steps currently used in completing a task.
- Start writing the SOP in a language, style, and format that would be well understood by professionals working in your industry.
- Use third person language and an active voice construction.
- List all the steps of an activity in the order in which they are supposed to happen.
- Define each cause/effect relationship.
- Describe each step in as many details as possible, but not to a point where they are so complicated that they are unusable.
- Determine the frequency of the SOP reviews – we recommend you review your SOPs at least once annually, as SOP is a living document.
- Test a draft of the SOP in the field first before finalizing and implementing it so you ensure that every necessary detail is captured.
- Once the SOP is ready, decide where you will keep it – we recommend you have it in electronic format on a web-based collaborative system so that all employees have access to the latest version.
Having effective SOP’s in place is essential to grow your business, ensure quality is consistent across your business and best of all reclaim your time for bigger and better activities. Make a start, pick the top 5 activities you need to be documented, tap them out, test and measure, finalise them. Then rinse and repeat. The audit process starts to feel a lot more achievable.
To find out more about writing your SOPs, reach out and jump into my diary for a freebie Powercall, I am happy to chat through your specific situation.