Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are written instructions that ensure the consistent execution of a particular function. An SOP that is well-written and implemented can help you meet compliance requirements, reduce health and safety risks, or ensure consistency and efficiency throughout your organization.
SOPs are crucial to ensure that a business runs efficiently and effectively. Standard operating procedures ensure that employees do their jobs safely and accurately. This ensures that all employees can complete the same tasks and that the company is accurate and consistent. Standard operating procedures can only be implemented if you can communicate effectively. How you communicate with your employees will depend on your company’s size and the procedures you are trying to implement.
What are SOPs?
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a written set of instructions that explains how to accomplish complex routine tasks. It’s basically the way your company does things. It’s also official enough that it was written down.
SOPs can be your best friend when it comes to bringing new employees up to speed, teaching new skills, and delegating tasks off your plate. Not every process should be made into an SOP. Only routine tasks, which are scalable and form the heart of your business, should be turned into an SOP.
An effective and well-written SOP can help you meet compliance requirements, reduce health and safety risks, or be consistent and efficient throughout your organization. This guide will provide some guidelines to help you implement any SOP within your organization.
The purpose of the SOP is clearly understood.
You may be wondering why an SOP is necessary. You want to prevent problems from happening in your company. What issues should be addressed, and what needs to be done? Here are some examples.
- Reduce costs
- Increasing quality
- Reducing risk
- Environment protection
- Training source
Consider your audience diversity
You should consider who your Standard Operating Procedure will be used for before you start writing it. Is this audience familiar with the subject matter? Do they have the language skills necessary to understand? What are the audience’s size and shape? Keep in mind that not all parts of the SOP will be applicable to every group.
Describe the new operating procedures and the differences they have from the previous ones. Explain the purpose behind implementing new procedures. Explain how the new procedures will benefit the company and the impact on employees. It may affect their work or take up more time.
Organize training sessions
If the procedures are complex, they can be done one-on-one. It’s worth taking the time to ensure everyone understands the new procedures.
Don’t ask employees questions; tell them how to follow the procedures. Tell them that they or other managers will be watching their ability to follow the procedures. Remind them of the benefits they will receive by implementing the new procedures and give them incentives to take on the task.
The format and layout should be practical.
While there are many ways to present your SOP, there are also many options. Here are some simple reminders:
- You don’t have to modify a format that works well if it is already in place. However, you might consider making slight changes. Sometimes, a new visual can grab attention.
- Is your process multi-directional? It’s fine. Use a flowchart layout. Visual content is more effective for many people.
- What is the duration of the process? Is it short or long? Use hierarchical steps. A list of main steps and sub-steps can be used to clarify.
- Are there a few steps required to complete the routine? A simple list can be more beneficial.
Use only the most qualified authors.
You need the knowledge to write an SOP. You may be given the task of creating and managing an SOP. However, it is essential to know that you must have the necessary expertise to do so. Ensure that experts complete the authorizing process in the appropriate areas. This phase is key to success.
Provide the right content and structure
Unique situations will always have specific requirements. These are just a few of the details you should include in your SOP.
- What is the scope for an SOP?
- What is the SOP procedure?
- Do you have any safety and health concerns?
- Do you have any equipment requirements?
- Glossary of terms, Hints, and Tips
Use the proper writing style.
Make sure that any text within the document is concise and clear. Otherwise, the audience may find it challenging to understand and will not be able to use the document as a reference.
- You should not use the term “person” (He, She, Him, or Her).
- To make it easy to refer back and maintain the information in the future, ensure that steps are referred to.
- Use flowcharts and diagrams to break up long text chunks. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Make sure the SOP has been tested by those who will be using it. Also, ensure that comments are taken into account, and the SOP is updated whenever possible.
Make sure the SOP is distributed and read.
Although a repository is necessary, putting your SOP on your software does not make it enough. After your SOP is updated or placed in place, you should send an email to all relevant user groups. After receiving the response from each recipient, confirm that they have read the material and understand it. This whole process could be managed by a software-based tool.
Staff must be fully informed.
Next, sit down with each employee to ensure they understand the SOP and their expectations. It is crucial to ensure that your staff understands the Standard Operating Procedure. After reading the material, test your staff to get a sense of their understanding and help you address any issues.
Get feedback about the procedures. Procedures are often implemented to improve an aspect or part of an operation. The pros and cons of a procedure are better known by those who have experienced it first-hand. To ensure that the procedure works, get their feedback.
Make the instructions easily accessible. Make the procedures available on the intranet, send reminder emails and give employees a hard copy.