Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are essential in all types of businesses. If you get good at using SOP in business, then it will provide guidance for what to do within all company processes. 

SOPs can help with methods of operation, work-group responsibilities, safety measures, and operating guidelines for any given process. 

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Standard Operating Procedures and how SOP in business can produce positive results for your company.

What Is a Standard Operating Procedure?

A Standard Operating Procedure is a documented procedure that a company or organization follows to function consistently. Any how-to document or checklist can fall under the procedure category. 

Examples of using an SOP include:

  • Operating a website
  • Planning a new building project
  • Developing a training class

Using Standard Operating Procedures inside your company guides employees about what gets done in any given situation. This is not only efficient but makes for more consistent results. 

How Standard Operating Procedures Can Improve a Business

As Gino Wickman talks about in his Traction book, a Standard Operating Procedure helps maintain the consistency of your company’s performance. Creating systems in this manner help companies plan, coordinate, and communicate better within the organization.

You should design Standard Operating Procedures to increase productivity, reduce equipment and material waste, improve compliance with government regulations, reduce liability, or encourage employee morale. 

In addition, Standard Operating Procedures often help employees learn new skills since they follow the same steps each time they perform their job. Implementing systems in business can reduce employee errors by providing clarity of expectations and reducing the risk of ambiguities that lead to misunderstandings.

Standard Operating Procedures can also improve profitability by increasing efficiencies in how employees work together within the company. 

How Do You Build Systems In Your Business?

Start the SOP process by determining where you need business systems installed. Once you identify which parts of your company need an SOP in business, use these steps to create systems that encourage business growth.

Identify What Your Standard Process Is

Identify the steps a person must take to complete the task you’re creating the SOP for. Make a list of these steps so that anyone using them can easily accomplish the stated goal.

Test Your Standard Operating Procedures 

It’s important to test the new SOP before implementing it into your company’s workflow. Test Standard Operating Procedures by using people who aren’t familiar with them. Gauge whether they can accomplish the process without any issues. 

Set Up an Audit Process to Detect Problems 

After you test SOP systems, set up an audit process that determines if your SOPs remain successful. This way, you can refine the steps as necessary to increase their effectiveness.

Converting Frequent Tasks Into Procedures

A perfect use-case for SOPs is to use them for any tasks that you or employees do over and over. Business system examples might include the sales process, how onboarding works, how to work on billing, creating content, and other such business tasks.

For instance, you might create SOPs for onboarding new clients. Create a list of steps that everyone involved with the onboarding process must do. It might look like this:

  • The sales team passes the sale to the product team
  • The point-of-contact person enters new client into the company dashboard
  • An email goes out to the client to set up an onboarding call
  • Point-of-contact conducts the onboarding call
  • Point-of-contact passes client to the product fulfillment team

Many other tasks will typically need to get documented during a process like this. However, it should give you an idea about how to start working on your business in a more structured manner. 

Is This Task Necessary Enough to Add to Your SOP?

The key to using SOP in business is deciding which task should make it into each SOP document. 

Let’s say you’re creating an SOP for writing a blog post. One step you’re going to include is keyword research. Ask yourself which tasks are necessary and which tasks to leave out. 

You’ll most likely include a task such as “Research long-tail keywords around the topic keyword.” You might not list anything to do with which keyword research tool to use if you’re sure everyone on the team already knows that you use it. 

Creating SOPs for All Positions in Your Business

Use Standard Operating Procedures for all major areas of your company. This might include sales, scheduling, email marketing, coaching, product development, and refunds.

What Is SOP format?

Use the basic SOP format to list the tasks for each system. There isn’t one set format to use. However, you might include the following information in your SOP documents. 

  • SOP document ID number
  • Title
  • Issue date
  • Revision date
  • Current status
  • Author
  • Type of system (email, refunds, or sales)
  • Definition of terms used in the document

After listing all of the above, you’ll then lay out the step-by-step procedure for completing the system. If a person follows each step, they should end up finishing the task easily. 

Their result should end up the same as any other person who needs to jump in and complete it. 

The Benefits of Having Systems & Processes in Your Business

Using SOP in business so that everything runs through processes and systems provides several benefits to the company.

  • Standardizes common tasks and gets them out of the way so  employees can stop thinking about every detail
  • Promotes consistency in your company’s day-to-day operations
  • Saves time and money by reducing errors and omissions
  • Eliminates confusing redundancies
  • Enhances relationships with customers 
  • Makes it easier to delegate tasks
  • Insulates you against costly mistakes when key players are sick or on vacation
  • Helps you scale your business more easily 
  • Allows you to train new staff members faster 
  • Eliminates employee frustration, which leads to happier teams

Conclusion

Using SOP guidelines helps your company run smoother by establishing a way to execute common tasks. Standardizing processes makes the process of planning for your business success that much easier to do and predict.

About the Author, James Webster

James Webster, founder and CEO of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.