Standard Operating Procedures
What are SOPs?
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a textual description of a procedure, including the verification and documenting of findings. You can use them for defining standards in your business operations or to make people familiar with work processes without investing in training costs.
So why is it important to have Standard Operating Procedures? A SOP is a procedure unique to your firm that outlines the steps required to execute tasks in accordance with industry regulations, norms, laws or even your own set of standards.
A SOP establishes accepted practices in your business wherever standards exist. They could be stages to achieving a certain objective, company policies, or even internal manuals. Creating SOPs entails systemizing and documenting all of your processes.
You can find more information on how to write a great SOP for your business here.
Are Standard Operating Procedures really important?
Let us look at the ways your organization can benefit from having good SOPs.
Your business has multiple internal tasks that are repetitive in nature and performed by numerous employees. Every time someone new begins with that task, they find their own way or input to work over it or troubleshoot in case of any problems. There are no set guidelines or a flow chart to explain the process even for a routine task. A SOP would standardize the process irrespective of which employee is performing it by providing clarity on the task at hand. A detailed guide would enable the employee to perform that task efficiently and in turn save time.
ACHIEVE QUALITY OUTPUT
You want to maintain a high degree of quality of execution by reducing variations within your company for the routine procedures. Standardized procedures direct workers and limit the risk of missing steps or other errors that compromise the quality of work your company produces and help achieve consistency. SOPs that are meticulously followed ensure that your product or service is created in the same manner from beginning to end. This ensures customer satisfaction and business owners can focus more on growth rather than routine operations.
Documented processes are an important part of the new-hire tool-set because they help cut down on training time. They serve as reference guides for new hires, allowing them to work independently without relying too heavily on supervisors. But we need to be aware that SOPs may not be able to totally replace training depending on the task’s complexity and the employees’ expertise.
ACHIEVE CONSISTENT RESULTS
SOPs provide much-needed uniformity and quality control throughout your organization, ensuring that the tasks that keep your business running smoothly are completed the way you want them to be. SOPs make it simple to discover what rules and procedures are in place to deal with common business scenarios or activities, and they standardize many important processes. Thus, standardizing processes gives employees more freedom to focus on productivity more.
One of the major problems of not having standardized processes is that each person finds their own way to conduct a particular operation. This leads to a lot of dependency on one particular ‘hero’ to finish that task and that can act as a bottleneck. Complex processes also tend to be dependent on one particular person within the organization. Having SOPs for all procedures would reduce this dependence and provide more autonomy within your organization.
With a little concentration and effort, every process can almost certainly be improved. Employees must be involved in continuous improvement initiatives as soon as possible. A well-documented SOP allows the organization to determine which enhancements make the most sense and provide the best return on investment. A well-written SOP with step instructions is one of the most effective tools for staying current with change, making it essential for continual improvement.
How can you implement SOPs in your organization effectively?
MAKE THEM ACCESSIBLE
Your SOPs should always be accessible to all your employees. The employees should be able to refer to the simple steps which need to be followed effortlessly. SOPs have a typical repository location in almost every organization. A central intranet, either at the departmental or organizational level, is the most popular solution. You can adjust permissions using groups and teams so only the right people have access to the right content and avoid miscommunication.
MAKE THEM EASY TO USE
Each employee must be able to read the SOP and implement the steps without external support. You have got multiple platforms to store all your SOPs in one place. There are many well-organized digital guidebooks and other resources for your business which you can select according to your criteria. You can sort stuff according to the subjects that correspond to your teams and departments.
USE SOPS FOR ONBOARDING
When you have standard operating procedures in place, it is much easier to hire and retain staff. SOPs could be used by new employees to discover crucial information about your company. They’ll be able to determine how frequently processes must be completed, how long it takes to complete a process from beginning to end, and how everyone in their department contributes to the process.
Viraj, a Business Organization Specialist from Waybook says, “It’s easier and faster to onboard new team members if your organization is using an onboarding oriented SOP software. You can also keep track of the progress of your employees as they gain essential knowledge for their position.”
TRACK USE AND COMPLIANCE
There is no use of having SOPs in your organization if their implementation is not tracked. “Digital guidebooks allow you to track the progress of each step in the SOP and bring more transparency in the process. It also allows you to pass employees through tests or quizzes to understand whether they have understood the SOPs” is one of the features Mike from Waybook says you will find in a digital guidebook.
KEEP THEM UP TO DATE
Your job isn’t finished even though your SOP is crystal clear and covers everything. As you automate some processes or move some activities to the cloud, your procedures will evolve. It is necessary to review your SOPs every year or after any big changes to keep them from becoming obsolete and worthless. You also need to ensure that they are compliant with other external regulations to ensure proper safety precautions as well and edit them as per requirement.
Thus, it is clear that proper adherence to SOPs is definitely beneficial for your organization. It helps you standardize the processes and ensures that you are following the best practices. This gives you a high-quality output and you have quality assurance. Having standardized procedures would definitely be beneficial for your organization in the long run.
Let us know what you think about the importance of SOPs and their implementation in the comments below. If you want to understand how to prepare SOPs and implement them in your organization, get in touch with us!