Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Guidelines
November 8, 2017
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Guidelines are something many business owners struggle with but having them in place for your business is crucial. I’ve outlined the benefits in having an SOP library below and in this article we’ll tackle the guidelines and I’ll share our own template to help you on the road to operational excellence (it’s a long road – but one that adds value to your business and makes life so much easier for you!).
Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures
- The business has ownership of their IP at all times (not you, not your team)
- If team member is away others can easily fill in
- Can identify areas to systemise and improve efficiency, adding value for your business
- Team members understand expectations for each task and know the WHY behind the task
Download the Standard Operating Procedures templates we use with our clients
- SOP tracking sheet: this is our master, where we track all tasks, get client approval for creating SOP’s, track review and progress of SOP creation.
- SOP template: this is our internal template, if using for your own business simply change the branding and you’re away laughing!
In our ebook “Effortlessly Manage your Business” (pages 11-12) we talk more about how to build your systems and procedures.
Guidelines to get started on your own SOPs
We use our project management system to track SOP creation, testing and analysis. It’s also a good idea if you use a project management system to create templates for tasks you have SOPs for; it saves time, ensures your team is consistent and following procedures, and that your SOP’s are used in day to day operations. Simply link to your SOP from your task template.
Step 1: Review
- Record all regular tasks in the SOP tracking sheet. As a guide, we create SOP’s for all tasks repeated more than 3 times.
- Review these and rank how critical they are to your business.
- Identify who will be creating the SOPs.
- Set a goal on how many SOP’s will be created each month. Make this a KPI for your team.
Step 2: Create Procedure
- Next time you do the actual task you’re creating a standard operating procedure for, open the SOP template and save in your SOP library.
- Link to this doc from your SOP tracking sheet.
- Fill out the SOP and as you’re doing the task, mirror all steps in the SOP template. You want anyone in your organisation to be able to complete this task by following the SOP. Use a mixture of text, screenshots and video to document instructions.
- Once completed, update status in your SOP tracking sheet and move to testing.
Step 3: Testing
- Identify a team member who can review the procedure, preferably someone not familiar with the task.
- Ask them to perform the task using the SOP as a guide.
- Get feedback of areas of weakness or confusion.
- Update where needed.
- Update version control details with date of testing/approval.
- Update status in your SOP tracking sheet.
Step 4: Analysis
- Put a reminder in your calendar to review SOP in 1-3 months or as appropriate.
- Is the SOP complete?
- Any updates needed?
- Are any hyperlinks still accurate?
- Identify if there are areas of the procedure that can be automated to increase efficiency using technology. e.g. Zapier/IFTTT to add notes to calendars, recurring tasks in your project management system or updating your CRM.
- Have all possible improvements been made?
- Update SOP tracking sheet to show date of review.
- Re-test if you’ve made major changes to the SOP.
As mentioned in our article how to transform your business from successful to amazing, in documenting your systems and procedures you’ll clearly identify risks both in terms of ‘stuff ‘ not getting done (or getting done in time) and inefficiencies across your business.