Definition of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): A standard operating procedure (SOP) is simply a series of written instructions or guiding principles for successfully completing a regular task. The SOP is intended to enhance efficiency, boost performance, and ensure quality is achieved and maintained through systemic comingling.
Frequently, standard operating procedures are referred to as standing orders, set forms, standing instructions, and modus operandi (MOs). The American Management Association found out that one-quarter of employees tend to avert responsibility on average. Thus, the SOP could plan an integral role in your company.
Major Types of SOPs
These written guidelines streamline communication throughout all teams and even levels of a corporation. Both the workers and the business owner are involved in the SOPs. In most cases, the common types of SOPs are categorized into management SOPs and technical SOPs.
- Management SOPs
These standard operating procedures describe how any other SOP should be generated, renewed, circulated, and managed. This may sound a no-brainer, but, indeed, firms often require a management SOP to run other SOPs.
Basically, these SOPs are designed to give the framework on the steps used to define, document, and apply any other company standard operating procedures.
Thus, there is a need to have the management SOPs checked and revised more often or just like the technical SOPs (described below). These management SOPs are suitable for overseeing the regular sequence of creating, endorsing, and reviewing the current SOPs.
In addition, they can offer data on how to achieve safety and inspection standards. Admittedly, the documentation of SOPs shows that the firm has plans for quality assurance.
- Technical SOPs
This type of SOPs provides concise details on how to perform and accomplish certain tasks. They are usually offered in the form of an inspection, a recurring work order, or a preventive management work order.
Common SOPs Formats
SOPs usually vary from one document to manifold forms with a blend of explanatory tools. Most of them carry a title page, a flow chart, videos, and a table of contents, steps, and procedures.
Irrespective of the outline used, the SOP must have the scope of the SOP, necessary steps for completing the task, objectives of the tasks, and accountability measures.
Besides, it should provide details about the person to undertake the task and the one to contact when issues arise. There are various formats that operational managers can choose from. Here are the main SOP formats;
Hierarchical-steps SOPs are used when the task involves multiple steps that entail intricate implementation. This type of SOP format gives steps in a special manner such as 2a, 2 b, and much more.
Flowchart SOPs are commonly used for several possible results. Thus, if you want to create an SOP for a task that does not have a predictable result, you can use a flow chart layout to map out and organize your procedures. Each of the steps in the flow chart gives a direction on what the worker should perform next.
An SOP checklist is one of the easiest methods of creating standard operating procedures. To create the SOP, you can use Microsoft Word to create the header. Below the header, include the checklist items one by one. You can now print it for distribution to all workers.
Besides, there are thousands of online SOP templates to help you come up with the checklist SOP fast. You can get such SOP templates for free. However, it would be nice to get a premium membership to get the best downloadable SOP templates.
Instead, the managers of your business can still use a CMMS. This program enables them to create, assign, and oversee digital checklists. With this, there will be improved organization, increased accountability, and digital audits.
Step-by-step SOPs are created in a bulleted or numbered layout. The numbered list gives an outline of the crucial steps required to finish processes. This type of SOPs style is very simple. It does not need further clarification. This is ideal for tasks such as how to use a particular piece of equipment, how to log in to a certain program, and much more.
Consistency is the most important thing in undertaking operations in an automated manner. Thus, if you opt for the best and right SOP format, all your workers will always know the next step to take. All employees will always have in mind the right direction to take to help achieve content outcomes.
What are the five features of an SOP?
A standard operating procedure must have the following features;
The SOP must give details on the performer of the task. It should also give details on whom to reach out to in case of any operational complications. Besides, it will say who will oversee its execution, review, and keep it updated.
- Accountability Measures
Since the standard operational procedures are geared forwards, improving accountability, it must outline the duties of each worker. Consequently, it will be easy to track the achievements of each employee using the SOP.
- Purpose of the work
The standard operational; procedures shoulddescribe the intended purpose. Besides, it can reveal the main objectives of the work. It will be easy to know the problems they work is meant to solve and who the SOP targets. Also, it should have clear outlines on how and where the SOP will be used.
Apart from defining each worker’s tasks, the SOP should also give clear guidelines on how the task will be executed. The procedure will include the crucial steps the worker must perform. They should, however, be written in an easy to comprehend format.
You need to introduce standard operational procedures in your company if you haven’t. The technical standard operating procedures can help you improve accountability, reduce miscommunication, foster efficiency, and boost performance.
You can opt for digital SOP software. As stated above, you can use the checklist format, flow chart method, the step-by-step SOP style, or even the Hierarchical Steps. You will streamline all the operations of your company. Eventually, you will see an improvement in productivity hence revenues.