Writing Standard Operating Procedures, also known as an SOP template, will allow you to standardize your procedures, get started quickly, and provide fast, easy answers to common Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) questions. An SOP template will communicate to everyone the procedure format you want to use. It will provide a handy starting point so you don’t have to stare at a blank page. And will save everyone a lot of time selecting the font, margins, outlining, and answering questions about your company SOP structure.
Using SOP accounting as an example, when you use our accounting policies and procedures manual you will easily be able to add in your own company’s policy on keeping records, but keep the standard policy on returned goods, or vice versa.
Why Write an SOP Template?
SOPs are used within a variety of industries ranging from manufacturing (for ISO 9000, AS9100, ISO/TS16949, OSHA), health care (JCAHO, ISO 13485), FDA (ISO 22000, GMP), Information Technology (ITIL, ISO 20000, CoBit), accounting (Sarbanes-Oxley, GAAP, IFRS), or Human Resources (ADA, FMLA, EOE, FSLA, etc). In fact, so many industries use standards that there are too many to list. The world is awash in standards.
Procedures Are About Business Processes
Perhaps if everything always executed as planned then we would not need procedures, but this is not the case in the real world. An SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is used to ensure business processes are well thought through, that each task in a process is performed the same way every time, and important data is recorded, along with errors or deviations so corrective action can be taken. When we use procedures we allow ourselves to learn.
Procedures Are About Learning
We use procedures to plan out process expectations (Plan), collect data (Do), check the data against our expectations (Check), and then take corrective action (Act) on what we have learned. This is the learning loop or PDCA in action. PDCA is the basis of process learning.
Standards are developed to shorten the learning. Why wait for people to get hurt in the factory? OSHA Standards foster safety learning. OSHA SOP procedures communicate safety expectations. OSHA maybe for safety yet the same principle applies to all other standards or regulations. Standards are intended to speed up process learning.