Simply put, a standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of instructions on how to execute a specific task or a business process. They are used by all companies and public agencies. Their complexity varies from task to task, and it’s informed by the complexity of an entity itself. How to Write an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).
Standard Operating Procedure: How to Write an SOP
According to Harvard Business Review, SOPs should not be perceived as a straitjacket that restrains flexibility and suppresses innovation. Instead, it should be viewed as a result of a collaborative process that aims to safeguard against standard flaws and setbacks.
They also break down complex procedures into logical and interrelated steps to increase overall profitability, accuracy, and efficiency. SOPs also explain different roles and responsibilities. They should not be set up to complicate any workflow unnecessarily.
So, how do you go about writing an SOP? Read this article to learn some of the best practices in developing the best and most efficient SOPs.
Focus on the Overall Aim
Make sure you do not lose sight of the overall strategic goals of your company or organization. Whatever business process you come up with in your SOP, it has to contribute to the overall direction. Make sure you are not duplicating work by creating a new SOP if the existing one works fine.
Choose an SOP Format
While large companies use standardized SOP formats, such as ISO 9001, you may need to come up with one of your own. Follow the best practices in writing an SOP by including the following components:
- An introduction
- Detailed, step-by-step instructions
- Role and responsibilities
The main SOP formats you choose from include a simple checklist, a more complex linear checklist, a flowchart, a hierarchical steps format, and a process-flow diagram.
Make SOPs Collaborative
Don’t go it alone. It’s too much of a responsibility to shoulder. Also, you are less likely to develop an SOP that will be owned and followed rigorously if you ignore others.
Identify the key teams, subject matter experts, or their representatives and be proactive about engaging them. Start with a process map to build stronger communication and then create specific mechanisms for consultations and ensure you integrate the inputs. Feedback loops also matter, so give people space and time to digest information and provide quality comments.
Make SOPs Executable
Don’t overdo it by developing something that won’t be practical or executable. An SOP is practical when a team achieves the same outcome every time it is applied. Repeated success is what makes your SOP successful and a good procedure good.
To illustrate, professional writers follow executable and repeatable procedures to write top-class essays. This is what happens when you hire them through websites to write essays of the highest quality.
Executable means that all relevant employees should be able to follow an SOP, providing that they get the necessary training. If the fate of an SOP depends on the skills of one or a handful of individuals, it will only promote particularism.
Integrate SOPs into the System
Once you’re done with your SOP, you need to integrate it into the system. It needs to be entered into an automated document management system to the maximum extent possible to ease usage. If the SOP is not related to other SOPs, you risk making it ineffective.
Involve your IT colleagues from the get-go to take their advice into account. You can thus seek the right balance between what’s desirable and what’s doable.
Write an SOP
Learning to write an SOP might look like a daunting task, but it does not have to be one. If you are clear about the overall SOP purpose, choose the right SOP format or SOP template and collaborate with the right people, you can develop a repeatable and executable SOP.
Author Bio: Charlotte Banks is a seasoned management consultant. She has worked with some of the world’s leading companies. Charlotte has been publishing regular reviews on TrustedEssayWriters of the modern trends and tools in organizational development, portfolio management, and project management in agile organizations.