How to write an SOP
If your organization wants to write a standard operating procedure, regardless of the task to be covered, there are several steps that must be followed. You can also look at SOP examples online to help write detailed SOPs for nearly any business process.
These are the steps that should be followed when writing SOPs:
Define the purpose
The first thing to do is to figure out what the purpose of the SOP will be. This will include determining the specific process or task that will be covered.
Every business will have its own processes unique to the company, but common processes that span nearly every organization include accounting principles and customer sales policies.
Identify your audience
Once the task has been identified, you then need to figure out who will be following the SOP. Identifying the target audience will help you write the SOP in a way that your audience can understand.
For example, writing an SOP for a sales team in a style that is appropriate for a software development team will likely lead to the sales team not understanding the SOP. It is important to engage employees during this process and get their input in a way that makes it easy for them to follow any SOP they are expected to utilize.
With the task and target audience identified, it is time to gather any existing information related to the individual steps to be covered in the SOP.
For existing tasks common to your organization, you may want to speak to other individuals on your team who have prior knowledge about the process. For new processes, you'll want to work together with your team members to ensure you cover all the necessary tasks involved in the process.
If there are other SOPs that need to be referenced, information about how they fit into the new SOP will be needed.
Choose a format
Next, you will need to choose an appropriate format for the SOP, depending on how complex or detailed the SOP needs to be.
Again, for more straightforward tasks, a simple or checklist format will be appropriate. A hierarchical format is best for more complex tasks or those involving detailed steps. If there are multiple options that need to be explored as the SOP is carried out, a flow format will be best, regardless of the process complexity.
Write the SOP
Once you've defined the purpose of the SOP, gathered all relevant information, and chosen an SOP format, it is time to write standard operating procedures. Using all of the SOP documentation information gathered, the team responsible will get together and craft the SOP.
Review and revise the SOP
After the SOP document has been developed, it will need to be evaluated by stakeholders, such as those using the product resulting from the SOP. These parties should look at the SOP and make any recommendations for revisions.
Additionally, a trial run of the SOP can be carried out to ensure the steps can be followed and that the actual outcome matches what was anticipated.
Implement the SOP
Once the SOP has been revised, it is time to go ahead and put it into practice. As a company works to create SOPs, they should be compiled into documentation that is easily accessible to anyone who may need to follow them.
An identification number can be assigned to enable easy cross-referencing from other SOPs. If, after implementation, challenges or problems arise, the SOP should be reevaluated and revised as needed.
Improve your business processes with an effective SOP
SOP documents can be used for everything from outlining tasks in your communication strategy to reviewing safety warnings for a new project. SOPs are necessary for every business to ensure that all team members are on the same page regarding various tasks and responsibilities.
Now that you know what SOPs are and how they can be utilized across your business to improve employee engagement and customer service, it is time to start crafting your own SOP documents.
Using the information in this article as a starting point, you can begin to improve your business processes and achieve consistency throughout your operations. If you are interested in developing SOPs that meet the needs of your business, Mailchimp has the resources and tools to help. Try Mailchimp today and accomplish your business goals in no time.