Standard Operating Procedures - or SOPs - are one of the most effective tools a business can use. In this video, you'll see the five steps for creating and using SOPs, as well as why they're so useful.
- Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, are one of the most effective tools you business can use. In this video you will see the five steps for creating and using SOPs, but before that we should define them and explain why they are so useful. An SOP is the ordering and committing to a defined way of performing a business process. It defines how the process should be performed, the how not the what. It's also an easy way to share information on the approach to a process with everyone who performs it and it standardizes the process, so everyone performs it in the same way. There are five steps in creating and using SOPs. They are identifying, planning, gathering information, writing, and maintaining. Let's look at each of these steps in more detail. The first step is identifying. This means developing a list of all the processes that need standard operating procedures. The easiest way to achieve this is to task all your managers with discussing this with their reports. Between them, they should all develop a long list of potential SOPs. Their managers can then work together to whittle this long list down to a short list. This will also allow you to identify redundancies and which SOPs need to be linked. Step two is planning. You should be planning the process for creating the SOPs. This includes determining the format. You could use diagrams or step-by-step instructions. Then you should establish a review process, deciding who, how, and what will be reviewed. You should then choose how the SOPs will be disseminated to the staff. Will they be held on a server or intranet, emailed to everyone, or will you create paper copies? Step three is gathering information. You can use external reports or interview the affected employees or both. You should also check for existing information you may already hold. Step four sees you ready to start writing the SOPs. You should complete a first draft by adding notes to your template, then identifying and filling any gaps in the information. When the first draft is complete, review it with your SMEs, get input from management, and submit the SOPs to the project manager overseeing the process. Finally, step five is maintenance. SOPs can become dated quickly, so you should put a review process in place. Some SOPs will benefit from annual review, but some may need to be reassessed more frequently. Appoint someone who will be in charge of overseeing and maintaining the SOPs. If you have a large number, it may be wise to stagger the review to ease the burden and avoid tying up lots of people at the same time.