5 Tips for Writing Effective Standard Operating Procedures

A Standard Operating Procedure is a written instruction that a worker should follow to perform a task effectively.  It communicates who will perform the task, what materials are necessary, where the task will take place, when the task must be performed, and how the person will execute the task.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind when writing standard operating procedures.

1.    Set priorities for which SOPs should be written

You cannot write all the Standard Operating Procedures for every job in a day’s time.  Evaluate which SOPs will have the greatest impact on your bottom line and start with writing them before progressing to the necessary SOPs that may not have an immediate effect on your profit.  Afterwards, write Standard Operating Procedures when new equipment or processes create new work situations.  Also consider new information that may suggest benefits from modifying work behaviours and modify your SOPs accordingly.

2.    People struggle to follow long SOPs

If the Standard Operating Procedure is longer than 10 steps, consider breaking it up into several logical sub-SOPs.  Use flowcharts, diagrams or other methods to simplify the process. Alternatively, you can make the long form SOP a training document to supplement the shorter Standard Operating Procedures to give an overview of what must be accomplished.

3.    Consider who you are writing the SOP for

People differ in terms of age, education, knowledge, skills and experience.  Work cultures also differ.  Determine which writing style and the level of detail needed for the person performing the procedure.

4.    Test the SOP

Get several workers to test the Standard Operating Procedure and give you feedback.  Observe whether the instructions are easy and logical for them to follow, where you may have left out a step, or where more detail is needed.

5.    Review the effectiveness of the SOP

After the Standard Operating Procedure has been in practise for a few weeks, get feedback from the workers and evaluate how effective the SOP is.  Is it accomplishing the goal for which it was written?  Are there ways to improve it?

SOPs form the backbone of an organization.  They are the basis on which you can grow your business.  If you need any help in compiling SOPs, please contact Virtual Productivity Solutions.  We will be happy to help you.

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