What Is Standard Operating Procedure
The standard operating procedure is a set of instructions that describes the proper activities and directions to complete a routine task. Here, we will explain what does SOP means and give you a guide on how to make a good SOP. Also, learn about its benefits and use cases, and check out our free SOP templates.
1. What Is SOP?
A standard operating procedure is a guide or document with clear instructions about how team members or employees within an organization should perform certain activities to get their tasks done. The purpose of using SOPs is to make sure that all business components are moving according to proper guidelines and all the members are working on the same page. It keeps the organization from slowly breaking down and makes sure that every process is going as planned.
An SOP is a procedural document with guidelines on how an organization should work. It includes business policies, standards, processes, and other instructions to make the business successful. It only gives an overview compared to a process document, but it is much more detailed than a simple procedural document. You can use SOPs to create policies and standards for your business, and you can use those expected procedures for marketing, operations, and administration of your organization.
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2. Types of Standard Operating Procedures
1: Step-by-step Format SOP
A step-by-step SOP chart is a simple and easy to create document to describe a procedure straightforwardly. List the tasks on one side and give instructions and descriptions on completing that task next to its name. It is also easier for employees to follow SOPs in this document format. You can use EdrawMax to create a standard operating procedure in a step-wise format.
2: Flowchart Format
Flowcharts graphically represent how a process works and give you a better understanding of the workflow. It depicts the relationship between each step to explain the SOP meaning. The process flowchart format is best when an activity can lead to multiple outcomes and involves decision-making. When it comes to routine activities in an organization, their outcomes depend on the factors affecting the procedure.
3: Hierarchical Format
A standard operating procedure in a hierarchical format is similar to the step-by-step format, only with more details. It lists each step and tells you which part should be your primary focus. It also describes the procedure to complete particular tasks and instructions on how a process should move using steps. But it includes details on which part of any task or activity needs to be completed first to make the process more efficient.
4: Checklist Format
A checklist SOP document describes the guidelines to complete any process, simple and easy-to-understand. To make a checklist, you need to make headers about the routine activities in your organization. Then, you create a checklist for each header instructing the proper procedures that your employees must follow to complete their tasks. Use EdrawMax Online to create a checklist using free templates.
3. Benefits of SOP
SOPs provide consistency of processes and operations in any organization. It makes sure that all activities are going smoothly in the workplace environment. All employees and staff get the same SOPs, which means they work on the same page and know their duties. It helps save time and resources when everyone knows how to complete their tasks.
Reduce errors in the standard working procedure of any organization and ensure a smooth workflow with SOPs. When all employees get the same instructions on how to handle their tasks, they practice it routinely and get better at it every day. It gets rid of all errors occurring due to non-consistent guidelines and improves the workflow in all areas.
Save time and create an efficient workflow with standard operating procedures in your organization. Without SOPs, employees finish their tasks at different times due to their procedures, but after using the same guidelines, they complete tasks in the set amount of time. It takes time to create proper SOPs and implement them in your organization, but you save a lot of time with this little effort if you look at the broader picture.
Ensure a safe environment for your employees with SOPs. These instructions are essential for any business or organization because they ensure the safety of employees in both personal adversities and potential liabilities. When all employees work according to the company-provided guidelines, there are fewer chances of personal conflicts arising due to how someone works and no lawsuits.
4. SOP Use Cases in Business and Education
- Send job descriptions using a standard operating procedure.
- Train new employees to follow company-provided instructions.
- Use for employee orientation and discipline.
- Give employees their performance reviews about all activities.
Customer Service and Marketing:
- Follow a proper marketing procedure using social media and advertisement with SOPs.
- Create slogans, creative titles, product names, and quotes to expand sales.
- Use SOPs to create an efficient product delivery process and customer response.
- Tell customers about warranties and refund policies with SOPs.
- Record and answer customers' complaints and suggestions.
- Create a consistent account receivable procedure in the collections and billings process using proper SOPs.
- Keep track of all account payable deadlines, never miss any payment, and optimize cash flow.
- Implement a standard operation procedure to work on the production line by giving instructions to your employees.
- Use SOPs to inspect the equipment without leaving anything behind. Keep track of equipment maintenance.
- Show new employees how to work on the production lines and train them using SOPs.
5. How to Create a Good SOP?
Here is how you can create a good SOP and describe the instructions to complete any task or activity in an organization. When creating a standard working procedure, make sure to identify task dependencies. In any organization or business, one activity or process depends on completing another activity. Understanding the hierarchy of each process makes it easier to create a good SOP.
- STEP 1: Start by defining your goals for creating the SOP. Write down why you need an SOP and the results you want after implementing it. Determine your stakeholders and all people involved in the SOP. Also, determine your end-users who will be using these SOPs.
- STEP 2: Define the format of your SOP. You can pick any of the four SOP formats listed above and create a good document. After picking the format, you need to define the scope of your operating procedure. Determine the areas it will cover and who will follow these guidelines.
- STEP 3: The last step is determining what to include in the SOP document. Make sure your document has a title page to introduce the contents and a summary of what they will find in it. No matter what format you are using, make sure to add a list of step-by-step procedures to make it easier to understand for everyone.
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After you understand the logic of creating an SOP, the next step is to get started with EdrawMax and create it using free templates. EdrawMax Online is the best SOP maker because of its user-friendly interface and comprehensive collection of free templates. It also comes with a symbol library and many unique customization tools. EdrawMax lets you export your diagram in any format you want, and you can create more than 300 types of graphs with it. Here are the steps to create an SOP document on EdrawMax.
- STEP 1: Log in to EdrawMax Online or create a new account.
- STEP 2: You can make your diagram using a template or open a blank canvas to draw it from scratch. Go to new, and click on the flowcharts category. Select the workflow diagram and click on the "+" button to get a new canvas, or select a template to edit it right away.
- STEP 3: The next step is to customize your SOP template. Customize it using drawing tools, auto themes, and color fill. Go to the symbols library and insert icons and symbols with a simple drag and drop. Align your diagram, adjust the layout, and style it by changing fonts. Add connecters to visualize the relationship between components.
- STEP 4: After your diagram is complete, the next step is to download it. EdrawMax Online supports various document formats, so you can export in any format you want. You can also share and print it.
6. Free SOP Templates
You can easily create a standard operating procedure with a free SOP template. This procedure aims to provide details about how to complete specific tasks and activities in a process. However, making an SOP takes time and effort, so professionals use editable templates to create these charts. Here are some free SOP templates.
Example 1: Training SOP Example
This training SOP example describes the guidelines for training classification. There are four training categories new employees, existing employees, visitors, and contract employees. The standard operating procedure gives instructions on how to complete a specific task or set a smooth workflow. It lists the activities step-by-step and describes what parts of any activity are to be done before others.
Example 2: Manufacturing SOP Example
The standard operating procedure gives you clear instructions to complete any process. The manufacturing SOP example in this template showcases the tasks and activities in producing services or goods. Manufacturing is a team process where the time and resources needed depend on the communication and teamwork between members. With SOPs, everyone gets simple instructions on how to complete their tasks and the time limit.
Example 3: Project Management SOP Example
The templates for this project management SOP example describe the workflow of a construction project using a flowchart SOP format. We use this format when decision-making is involved, and the same procedures might lead to different outcomes. Using a flowchart to illustrate SOPs of any process makes it easier for the parties involved to understand it and develop ways to improve it.
7. FAQ About SOP
1. What is SOP in business?
The SOP in business is a procedure to describe the particular activities and operations needed to complete tasks. It represents the standard procedure based on provincial laws, industrial laws, and your way of expanding your business. These procedures are essential for any business because they reduce workplace adversities and keep lawsuits as far as possible. It also improves communication between team members.
2.Why is SOP important?
SOPs provide consistency and a smooth workflow. Without SOPs, all employees do their tasks and routine activities differently, resulting in some quickly finishing while others finish late. With SOPs, everyone follows the same guidelines on dealing with any process, so completing it takes a similar time. As everyone works with the same procedure, it helps improve teamwork and gets rid of any personal issues between members.
3.What is SOP in manufacturing?
The SOPs in manufacturing ensure safe work practices for employees. It helps create a healthy work environment for workers to reduce potential liabilities. The SOP document for manufacturing includes a set of instructions that helps workers perform their routinely manufacturing tasks. It improves the communication among team members, and as everyone gets the same SOP document, the entire procedure goes smoothly.
4.How do standard operation procedures influence bureaucratic decision makings?
The standard operation procedure influences bureaucratic decision-making using the uniform application of rules. The goal of creating SOPs is to make sure that the directories and work guidelines are explained under similar conditions to all the bargaining unit members. With the uniform application procedure, no one gets left behind. Everyone receives the same document with similar instructions on it.
8. Key Takeaways
Creating a standard operating procedure might take some time, but it will help you save a lot of your time after you consider it in the long run. Telling people to follow similar guidelines and implementing proper instructions improves an organization's workflow. With the right tools, you can easily create an SOP document. EdrawMax Online helps you create SOPs in many ways. It gives you free templates a symbol library and supports various document formats. Go to EdrawMax and get started right away. You can easily create a spider map on EdrawMax Online. It gives you free professional templates and a symbol library to make your diagram. It also comes with unique customization tools and supports various document formats. Find more SOP examples.