When it comes to business, efficiency is king. By cutting down the time for routine operations, you are actively creating room for innovation. Research has found several ways through which an organization can optimize efficiency, but one that continues to be lauded as most effective is having a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Generally speaking, SOPs are a set of guiding standards that inform employees on how to do their job while keeping within the business’ standards. When created properly with business objectives and company culture kept in mind, this operating blueprint is a powerful tool in maximizing employee performance, organizational learning, and product quality. 

How can SOPs help your organization?

A learning organization performs better

SOPs are essentially manuals of operations. They guide employees on how to conduct their day to day business while staying within the confines of business objectives. This manual serves as a critical driver of knowledge exchange between employees in different departments or at different levels. As one is promoted, they find a ready-made manual on their new role. This minimizes downtime in adjustment and gets them going quicker than if the manual was not available. Furthermore, SOPs are living and breathing documents to be regularly updated with feedback from the employee on the job. Their feedback on key tasks or changing elements within their roles is critical information for the organization to analyze, learn from, and adjust accordingly. As a result, you will have employees and an organization constantly learning from day to day activities and documenting the changes in a document for everyone to read.
Product and service quality control maximize profits and customer satisfaction

When SOPs are followed closely, the business can be confident in the consistency of their service delivery or product. This consistency protects the product’s integrity and in the 21st century, customers are looking for reliable and consistent service. An organization that employs SOPs to guide employees positions itself favorably to earn their trust and boost customer satisfaction, both of which are closely linked to the increase of sales.

Accurate monitoring and evaluation of employee performance equates to meaningful growth

SOPs serve as “mirrors” for the employee. They give a set of clearly stipulated standards of procedures which can later be used to measure the performance. This clear link between performance standards and day to day procedures is the basis of a transparent and objective performance review for the employee. A supervisor can confidently sit and evaluate the employee objectively given the set of expectations. Feedback from such a process is critical for making necessary changes in the role to improve performance and learn about processes that work well to leverage those for better organizational performance.

When creating your organization’s SOPs, here are things to consider

Who is your target audience?

SOPs are targeted to a specific role. As such, it’s important to consider the person who is currently in the role or is the ideal candidate. You should consider their task complexity and what information is relevant for that particular role. This will help in creating actionable operational procedures relevant to that role.

What are your desired outcomes?

In writing SOPs, consider the desired outcomes. They are the basis upon which you design the flow of information in the SOP. Communicate clearly the desired outcomes and tie them to the operating guidelines for optimal understanding.

What are the operating guidelines?

This is the heart of your manual. It indicates how the employee is to complete tasks and conduct themselves in pursuit of achieving stipulated outcomes. Take time to create a thorough list and leave room for employee feedback on any items you may have missed.

Language used

Like any manual, SOPs should be as concise and relevant as possible to avoid misunderstandings. Avoid vague language or phrasing and instead, clearly, define the flow of procedures. This goes hand in hand with knowing the audience to whom the SOPs apply.

A tool to manage standard operating procedures

Now that you understand what SOPs are and how extremely important they are, you’re probably wondering “what app should I use to create and manage my SOPs?”. After testing many of the available tools out there, I’d recommend Flowster for your sop app. It’s super easy to use and they even have a free plan (not a trial, it’s free for life!), so you can play around with it before making a decision to upgrade.