There are many components to running a successful business, which all rely on having a quality foundation and workplace synergy. A Standard Operating Procedure aims to provide just that. SOPs go a long way in ensuring that employees can carry out activities and tasks with precision and speed. Especially in large organizations, these practices will be standardized across departments to be aligned with the company. Without instruction, there could be situations where employees are left scrambling to find solutions or answers, which could eat into time and morale.
When it comes to business processes, it doesn’t just include regular workflows like supply chain management, sales or customer service. In the usual day-to-day, there may be times when something unexpected comes up. An SOP will dictate the next steps so as to prevent miscommunication so that business can go on smoothly. For instance, do teams know what to do when the manager is home sick? Do they know who to report to, or turn to for instructions?
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a documentation of step-by-step routine instructions for business processes and internal workflows. This ensures that employees within an organization produce work of a consistent standard and quality. In a nutshell, SOPs are a type of process documentation that helps with regulatory compliance. Having protocols in place also helps to avoid mistakes, leaving no room for interpretation and error. SOPs are usually beneficial for business activities that are conducted frequently, but can also include what to do in case of emergencies. This way, organizations can streamline workflows and maximize output.
When employees are given a step-by-step instruction on what to do, they can avoid making silly mistakes for tasks. Tasks that are executed according to the organizational standard can avoid situations where the work is bounced back or rejected.
Keeping everyone on the same page about processes, objectives, strategy and plans will help to produce consistent work that is up to par. An SOP is the one verified resource that employees in the company should turn to, rather than taking different information from multiple sources that may not be accurate.
Onboarding is a critical component of a business and helps set new hires up for success. Employees that are not properly onboarded may face issues later on in their careers, leading to them leaving the company or termination. In some cases, quality hires may not have the right support to thrive. An SOP enables the acknowledgement and guidance needed in their first days in the company.
Prevention is better than cure. SOPs ensure regulatory compliance when completing assignments. This protects an organization from making colossal mistakes that end up in litigation issues.
When an organization is informed, workflows and processes are streamlined. Furthermore, everyone is aligned on business objectives and knows what is expected of them. Process documentation goes a long way in fostering an independent work environment that benefits from employee feedback and ideas.
Depending on the nature of the procedure, an SOP can include different aspects and instruction. SOPs are written to provide clarity in a detailed manner. Typically, SOPs will name the business activity, the department/nature of the procedure, employees involved in the process, step-by-step instructions from beginning to end, and any standards or timelines.
It is also important and beneficial to store the SOP in a company-wide knowledge base like Kipwise in order to securely manage, access and edit the document when necessary.
If your organization doesn’t use a SOP to outline business procedures, it may be time to start on one! Perhaps you already have a couple of SOPs in the database, but they may not be updated or built on the best practices. At Kipwise, we crafted a well-designed Standard Operating Procedure Template above to use across any business vertical or department.
Getting a Standard Operating Procedure right will need the collective effort from SOP writers, leaders and teams to adhere to the standards in the document. That is why some organizations fail to effectively utilize SOPs even when they have an existing file.
Here are some tips and best practices to SOP writing that produces results:
Having incomplete, outdated or incorrect instructions may have a negative effect on workflows. It is crucial to keep SOP information as accurate as possible to reflect the latest updates and practices in the organization.
SOPs should be written in a way that is readable and understandable to the user. It can help to have other members in the department vet through an initial draft to ensure that instructions convey the proper meaning.
Even the most detailed document will be rendered useless if it is stored in a place that is hard to find or inaccessible to employees. Some companies rely on more traditional forms of process documentation, such as using physical files. This can deter remote employees from finding it. Using a company wiki or central database will enable teams to quickly access the SOP when needed.
On the ground floor, teams and managers have to be aligned with the objectives and practices of having an SOP. If employees do not realize the value of process documentation, they may not want to rely on the information at all. It is important for someone, such as a manager, to ensure that the SOP is constantly utilized as an important resource. This can be done through checking on engagement with digital files and emphasizing the consequences of straying from organizational standards.
Business processes are in a constant state of flux. Whether this is through internal reorganization or external changes, an SOP is not set in stone. However, when documents are formatted in a way that is hard to edit, it can add on to the workload. Then, businesses end up with outdated SOPs because employees find it too tedious to update.
Kipwise enables businesses to leverage a modern knowledge sharing tool to build up a reliable and robust knowledge hub. Keep teams on the same page by storing, managing and collaborating on important documents like SOPs digitally and in real-time. Find out more on our website.