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By Jacquie Winiecki
SOP stands for standard operating procedure. SOPs are guidelines that are written to outline each step of a process within your company. The SOPs should outline who is responsible for each task as well as give a timeframe in which the task should be completed.
Examples of SOPs in the workplace may include:
SOPs can be as simple as a checklist or be extremely precise, numbered, and formal. Writing SOPs depends on the needs of your company and the level of detail that needs to be in written form for an employee to properly complete the task at hand. The following is a brief overview of one way to write and format SOPs:
Step 1: Decide how you would like your SOPs to look. A basic checklist for a straightforward task may do. However, a more complex task may require elaborate written out guidelines as well as spaces for the employee to initial when complete and/or additional personnel such as a supervisor to initial after they have verified the step is complete.
Step 2: Work together. While one person may be responsible for writing the SOPs, they likely will not have the in-depth knowledge and experience that an individual who works on and completes the specific task daily does. Be sure to collaborate with the employees who know the process to ensure nothing is overlooked. This also creates a feeling of camaraderie. Instead of abruptly creating a rulebook and dictating personnel to follow it, including them in the creation of SOPs will provide them with a sense of ownership and a feeling of belonging.
Step 3: Outline the purpose of your SOPs. Safety is often a priority when creating guidelines within a company. If there is a safety risk involved with a task, be sure to describe in detail what precautions need to be taken or any steps to follow following a workplace injury. Also, make sure that your SOPs goals align with the mission statement and goals of your company. Other purposes for creating SOPs may include:
Step 4: Design your SOPs. By this step, you have decided how you want your SOPs to look. Now it is time to design them. Whether you are writing out detailed steps or creating a flowchart, take the time to make sure your SOPs are clear and organized.
Step 5: Walk through it. Before implementing your SOPs, have an experienced employee follow the steps in your SOP and have them note if any steps are missing or need to be changed. Walking through the SOP from start to finish and noting any changes is critical. An SOP should not take the place of formal training but should be able to serve as a reputable guide for someone who is not performing the task regularly.
Additional steps as needed: Working for a large company may require additional approval from superiors before implementing your SOPs. In addition, certain companies may require that risk assessments are performed or require the SOPs to outline how success is measured. Be sure to follow all company rules and regulations before putting new procedures in place. SOPs will require ongoing changes and improvements over time so it is important to review them periodically.
There are numerous benefits of having Standard Operating Procedures. SOPs can assist with and/or streamline the following:
Though the process of writing and implementing standard operating procedures can be a monumental task, the benefits of doing so are worth the time and effort. Having well-defined and well-written SOPs can increase productivity, save money, and reduce workplace injuries. SOPs, when implemented properly, are carried out the exact same way every single time. This ensures that the company is consistent as well as in compliance with any applicable industry rules and regulations. Standard operating procedures could be just what you need in order for your organization to succeed.
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