For all businesses, consistency is a vital part of success. Consistency enables you to meet your customers’ expectations time and again. Using standard operating procedures (SOPs) allows you to be consistent. Hence your customers will always know what to expect from your business.
Having standard processes is particularly useful as you expand and grow your team. Not everyone who works for you will be able to carry your vision as clearly as you do. So they may not automatically deliver services in the same way you would. Outlining standard procedures for your team helps to standardise the quality of your product or service. It means that regardless of which member of your team is working on a process, the result is consistent.
What Is A Standard Operating Procedure?
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a document containing detailed, systematic instructions on carrying out repetitive tasks. These are instructions that maintain quality across all operations. They are procedures that all employees should follow for consistency and uniformity.
Advantages Of SOPs For Small Businesses
There are many advantages of SOPs for small businesses, some of which include:
1. Quality Control:
SOPs ensure consistency during production. Hence they are essential in quality control. Minor errors during production or service delivery can lead to:-
- product returns,
- customer dissatisfaction, or even
2. Lean Production:
Having standard operations enable businesses to save on time and money. By streamlining processes and applying automation where necessary, businesses increase efficiency and productivity.
With SOPs, your business will be scalable. Having the procedures in place allows you to duplicate your results quickly. By simply increasing your resources and hiring more people to your team.
4. Risk Management:
Having SOPs means your business can both predict and manage risks. As you continue to grow and polish your business’ SOPs, your company will be able to cut most of the risks.
With specific instructions and responsibilities in place, each team member is aware of their job. Thus reducing any possible conflicts in operation teams. They are all able to collaborate for the success of your business.
Unless you have specific customised services or products, SOPs are a must for all businesses, regardless of size.
Now that you understand how crucial SOPs can be for your business. Let’s get started on recording your business’ SOPs as soon as possible.
How to Write Standard Operating Procedures for Your Business
The Standard Operating Procedures for every business and industry will vary. This difference is because companies have different departments, products, and operations. But, a great place to start could be one of the ready-made templates online.
Fill in the information, then review and develop it as you go along.
Smartsheet and TemplateLab have a few free templates you can try.
For those who wish to write their own SOPs from scratch, below are a few helpful guidelines:
1. List all Routine Processes:
Start by outlining all the repetitive processes in your business. You can categorise them either by department or across your value chain. Some of the standard processes common to most companies include
- Sales & Marketing
- Customer Service,
- Human Resource, and
- Legal procedures.
2. Outline the Procedures in each Process:
Consult with your team members to figure out each process’s technical details. Do not forget to outline the potential failure and warnings, if any, and how to handle them.
3. Select a Format:
Choose the format that you would prefer to use for your SOP. For instance, you can opt for checklists,
- detailed write-ups, or
- flow diagrams
- depending on the complexity of your procedures.
4. Assign Tasks and Responsibilities:
Assign the various tasks and processes to members of your team. Define who handles each task. Make sure to communicate clearly. So that all responsible parties understand that your processes are actionable. Additionally, identify which processes could be automated. Then and set the suitable systems in place to do that.
5. Test your SOP:
Once you have prepared your draft SOP, test it to ensure that all the procedures work as outlined. Add any missing information where necessary.
6. Train your Team:
An SOP will not benefit your company if prepared but kept on the shelf. Your entire team should be trained on its contents. Plus, then put into action to ensure the standardisation of all processes.
7. Update as Required:
Your SOP will require an annual review to keep it up to date. It would be best if you refined any processes from the lessons learnt. Plus, things change within your business. Allow for continuous feedback from your team and review the SOP whenever necessary.
Bottom Line About Standard Operating Procedures
As a savvy business owner, you will need to set up your SOP to maximise efficiency and productivity. SOPs also reduce the time taken to train new employees as the process is already in place.
SOPs are also critical when you need to delegate tasks. For example, if someone is out sick, having written instructions means someone else can stand-in.
If you are not sure where to start with documenting your processes, an experience Virtual Business Manager can help. They will ensure that your SOP documents are recorded, tested, and updated regularly. Your VBM can also collaborate with your business team to put together your SOPs. They can assign responsibilities and also check their progress.