How To Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) For Your Business

Create SOPs for your company by following these simple steps
Written By
September 28, 2022
Written By

A standard operating procedure outlines procedures and processes to achieve a purpose or complete a job.

Creating SOPs for different processes within your organisation becomes important for various reasons. It can help produce consistent results and uphold the quality of products and services.

SOPs may increase productivity and help employees cut mistakes. They are handy when employees seek to delegate without constantly explaining how they get things done.

You'll enjoy more benefits by having SOPs such as ensuring compliance with standards, promoting safety, and facilitating training and onboarding.

So, let's examine that step-by-step process you can use to create a SOP.

Step 1: Identify procedures or processes in need of a SOP

Not everything your company does requires a SOP. Set aside criteria to evaluate the most critical processes that need to be formalised and documented. They may be activities with a slim margin of error and enormous consequences.

You can consider processes that many new hires have to learn to perform their job. For instance, in a production centre, every new operator may need to learn the procedure for running a disinfection cycle. This process is worth documenting because failure to follow due process may result in a manufacturing failure.

Before creating an SOP, always have a goal in mind (what you seek to achieve).

Step 2: Identify who the SOP helps

Who are you creating the SOP for? Other than the direct end-user, think of third-party users such as the supervisors. Once you figure out your target audience, tailor the SOP to the needs of the users. Figure out which language or terminology they understand. Research about the prerequisite knowledge they hold. If the SOP touches on many roles, clearly identify and label who does what to avoid confusion.  

Step 3: Choose a format and template for your SOP

It's common for the organisation to create multiple  SOPs. With a template and format, you can make your SOPs consistent. Some important sections that you can have in the final document include:

  • Title details (SOP name, Reference number, Publish or Review Date)
  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Amendments
  • Prerequisites
  • References
  • Table of contents
  • Procedures
  • Definition of terms

The heart of the SOP is the "Procedures" section. You need a format for this part. Some options to try include:

  • Using a numbered or bulleted list with short sentences;
  • Creating a flow chart diagram or map (Useful to represent multiple options of approaching a task and respective outcomes);
  • Using hierarchical steps with processes organised into levels.

Step 4: Hold consultations with relevant stakeholders

Creating an SOP without involving relevant stakeholders is a sure way to fail. Start by identifying who will use the SOP. Schedule meetings and discussions with them to identify key processes or how they can best approach a task. Keep involving them after preparing the first draft, and ask for feedback that you can incorporate into future revisions.

Step 5: Determine dependencies

Carry out a review of any existing documentation or SOPs. You may need to reference these sources in your new document. The SOP should also outline the prerequisites before employees execute the SOP. For instance, prerequisites may include wearing personal protection equipment, using specific software, or tools.

Step 6: Write and review the initial draft

Don't hold high hopes that you’ll create a perfect document on your first try. Keep an open mind as the first draft may not win any prizes. You should also take the SOP for a test drive to help identify processes you may have overlooked. Source feedback from decision-makers, and compliance, making sure to incorporate changes in the final draft.

Step 7: Publish and distribute the SOP

The most challenging part may be implementing the SOP and making it part of the normal workflow. People often lean on their own established ways of getting things done.

You can hold training sessions focusing on the SOP and its benefits. Give employees access to the SOP using multiple ways. For instance, rather than carrying your SOPs in binders, you may post them on notice boards, work areas, or share the documents electronically. With WorkPilot, you can adapt procedures contained in SOPs into reusable and shareable checklists.

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