Instead of being overwhelmed by the notion of creating a massive SOP manual for every single process in your business, start small. We suggest you start by noting down the steps you take the next time you perform a work task. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate form or follow any special formatting – it’s just a recording of each of the steps that need to take place to complete the process successfully.
What to include when writing your SOPs?
A good SOP needs to be brief, easy to understand and contain steps that are simple to follow.
You’re going to want to make sure that everything you produce is as helpful as possible.
When you’re thinking about the first SOPs you want to draft, remember to keep these tips in mind.
Don’t Assume Anything
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re writing an SOP is the assumption that the reader is familiar with a step or concept that isn’t explicitly stated in the document.
When you’re writing an SOP, it’s better to over-inform than to provide too little information. When you leave certain things out, you could be setting a future employee up for disaster.
Glossaries can be very helpful when you’re creating your SOPs. People can use them to easily learn more information about certain concepts, and it can keep you from making SOPs too long and information-heavy.
Test Before Your Write
If you want to write an effective SOP, you won’t just focus on recording the current task process as is. You should take the time to test out your steps before you make them any part of an official process.
Walking through the process you create can make it easy for you to see how things are currently working, and if there’s anything you can do to improve things as you go forward.
You may find that something you assumed was well known should be documented in the process. It’s possible that you make a discovery that shows an entirely different direction you need to go with an SOP.
Involve the Right People
You’re making a big mistake if you only involve managers in the SOP writing process. Writing an SOP should be a group effort, and you’ll want to make sure that you have the right people involved in the process.
Make sure that you have someone that has an intimate familiarity with the task you’re outlining in your SOP. They’ll understand exactly what needs to be done to successfully complete a task, and could have suggestions on ways to improve it.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have a skilled writer that’s an expert at communicating difficult concepts.
Remember, an SOP is only helpful if people can understand what’s written. Someone that understands how to write well and communicate can be the best person to handle creating SOPs.
Include Plenty of Visual Aids
An SOP shouldn’t be a long document that’s full of text. You want an SOP to be informative and concise above all else, and using imagery can help you create a good SOP.
Infographics, actual pictures of objects or processes, and reference videos can help easily communicate difficult concepts. They can back up the words you write, and make the content you produce more powerful.
Using imagery can also help make your SOPs more accessible to people. Some people are visual learners that process information better from visual aids as opposed to written material.
Set Time for Periodic Review
Writing SOPs isn’t a one and done type of activity. If you want to make your SOPs effective and ensure that they’re reflecting the most important information possible, you’ll want to take time to periodically review them.
Change is a natural part of the business world. Procedures that you rely on today will have to change over time so as to stay effective.
It’s a good practice to review your SOPs at least once every year to ensure that they’re up to date. Some businesses may want to make the reviews more frequent and could recommend bi-annual or even quarterly reviews of important SOPs.
Getting your employees involved in the review process can make it much easier and effective.
Encourage employees to point out any inconsistencies they see in SOPs and consider getting observant employees involved in the next round of revisions.
Improve Your Business Today
Standard operating procedures can do a lot of good for the average business. Anything that can help train new employees, improve important processes, and deliver better customer experiences is something a business should do.
Providing good organization is only one way to help your business succeed. There are plenty of other things you could be doing to help your business grow and improve under your direction.
How often should you update your SOPs?
Ideally, you should review critical SOPs at least once every three or four months to assess if you need to make changes.
If you’re ready to implement positive change at work, we’re here to help. Book a call today and make this next quarter a success.