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  • Ann-Marie Farquharson-Clarke

TIPS FOR WRITING AN EFFECTIVE SOP

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), can be referred to as the recipe for success in your business. Similar to baking a cake, one has to be consistent with what, how, and when each ingredient is used, in order to get the desired outcome. The process must be repeatable and predictable.


A well-written SOP produces consistency across the board. When customers are assured of the same quality level of your product, regardless of when or where they order, this sets your brand apart. Customer experience in regard to product quality and service must always represent your brand. SOPs promote consistency, reduce errors and improve communication.


Whether it is a senior employee or new hire, the same level of quality in production and service must be maintained. Writing an effective SOP sets up all involved for success. SOPs not only help to evaluate present situations, but also to make decisions for next steps. It is important to note that your SOP document must be updated, as the company gains new knowledge, and should be used as a means of continuous improvement.


Here are 4 things to consider when writing a SOP:

  1. Defined Objective: Knowing what you want to accomplish from your SOP sets the pace for writing. As with most things, identifying your goals makes it easier to create steps and actually accomplish them.

  2. Be Clear and Concise: Your format should not be too wordy or long. The idea is to provide maximum clarity, and not cause confusion. The use of bulletins is recommended as it allows for easier flow when reading. Flowcharts are also a good format, depending on the desired outcome. Remember to avoid generalization, and ensure terms are precise in meaning.

  3. Collaboration and Team Effort: A well-written SOP can be used by anyone. It should be written with the end-user in mind. One of the best ways to ensure that it is written with clarity, for those who will be using it, is to actually get the input of employees. It would be pointless to create a SOP that did not make sense to the individuals actually using it. Sit with your team and get their input on best practices.

  4. Know Your Audience: Depending on the size of your organization you might be outsourcing services. This is where it gets a little tricky, and why having a properly written document, that ensures accuracy and uniformity in result, is necessary. So many businesses outsource services, and having a proper SOP allows for a better understanding of how to carry out procedures without compromising quality. Whether it's a senior employee, new hire or contract worker, the SOP should be clearly written with all parties in mind.

Regardless of the size or your organization, comprehension of the SOPs by all employees is crucial to success, and adherence to regulatory requirements. This establishes the need for the testing, and evaluation of SOPs to ensure employees' comprehension. SOPs are necessary when promoting uniformity in performance, maintenance of quality, improving efficiency and minimizing errors.


Do you use SOP documents within your business? Share with us how it has benefited your organization.


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