Why is it important to have SOPs?
It is wise for business leaders and managers to consider changes and adjustments that should be made in order to achieve success each year. One of the common mistakes most leaders make is not having enough organization and communication about basic tasks that need to be carried out by different departments and the employees within those departmental roles.
If you seek solutions to improve your organizational structure, creating or auditing your company SOPs is a great place to start. An SOP, also known as a “standard operating procedure,” is a document with written instructions that describes how an employee or team should perform a task or document and complete a project. It may seem unnecessary or feel overwhelming to think about documenting basic tasks; however, HRinMotion’s years of experience have shown several reasons why it is important for your company to have SOPs. Learn more below:
How do you create SOPs?
Properly designed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should include the following elements:
- The purpose of the task
- Scope of work
- Individual responsibilities
- Step-by-step instructions of an assignment
- References to similar or previous work
- Timeline of the process
- Follow-up and process documentation
While generating an SOP, you can choose several ways to organize and format the document, depending on your company’s needs.
Here are a few questions that can help to determine how to create the SOP:
- How many decisions will the employee need to make during the process?
- How many steps are necessary to complete the task or project?
- What is the goal of the task?
An effective SOP is measured by its conciseness and comprehensibility. There is no need to make the process complex; however, don’t assume that a task that is easy to one person is easy to another. Routine procedures that are less time-consuming and require small decisions can be written in a simple step-by-step format. Lengthy procedures consisting of ten or more steps or require the collaboration of several people should be written with a graphical layout or hierarchical steps. Some companies have embraced technology in this space by creating video tutorials with platforms like Zoom and Loom as well.
During the early stages of the SOP implementation process, managers should discuss each employee’s daily tasks and responsibilities to ensure all procedures are fully understood. The open lines of communication may remind managers of steps that need to be added or additional SOPs that need to be created in the future.
So what are the benefits of creating SOPs?
While standard operating procedures are not entirely standard across all industries, the implementation of SOPs has many of the same benefits for most companies. Those benefits include streamlined processes, improved efficiency, boosted productivity, accountability, communication, and company growth. All of these elements directly impact profitability and create an environment that encourages problem-solving and even employee protection. Above all, the main benefits of using a standard operating procedure are consistency, quality control, and a decrease in the number of errors made.
Here are some of the key benefits of SOPs:
SOPs streamline interdependent processes.
Documentation and instructions provide clarity that makes operations and productivity easier for employees and the company as a whole. Organizations that effectively use and distribute SOPs will automatically streamline processes because all departments will have access and clarity of expectations of their team members. Every department — operations, human resources, business development, finance, legal affairs, marketing, and more — should all have SOPs for departmental roles and responsibilities.
For the small business owner or consultant, SOPs are beneficial, especially if the owner has to hire contractors or have employees operating in more than one capacity.
SOPs improve efficiency and boost productivity.
Having clearly defined rules that employees can follow leave very few questions around what and how tasks should be completed. Fewer questions about what to do will most definitely improve efficiency and boost employee productivity. SOPs also allow employees to complete easier tasks which then gives them the freedom to be more creative, strategic and reach their full potential within the company and in their field. This added bonus positively impacts professional development initiatives, increases skill level, and improves employee satisfaction.
SOPs improve the onboarding process.
SOPs are especially important for new hires who may not be familiar with the company’s tasks during the onboarding process. BambooHR says employee onboarding should take at least three months, but some HR professionals believe the onboarding process could take even longer without SOPs in place. Having documented operating procedures gives new employees a great starting point and saves the company time and money spent explaining or rehashing tasks to new team members.
SOPs protect employees.
Some tasks detailed within SOPs have legal, public relations, human resources, and technical elements that can have severe ramifications if done wrong. Creating an SOP can reduce the company’s liability in some areas and protect employees from making mistakes that could be detrimental to the company’s success.
SOPs enhance communication.
Well-written SOP’s provide a communication gateway for staff members. The initial SOP starts a conversation about necessary tasks. If an SOP needs to be updated and redistributed, the SOP can keep the conversation going and keep everyone on the same page in the future. SOPs surely enhance communication within the company.
SOPs encourage accountability.
SOPs encourage accountability by allowing managers to track tasks and projects accurately. For instance, Harvest is a digital platform that many companies use to manage and track SOPs through digital time-stamps and reports. Integration of platforms like Harvest assists managers with keeping employees accountable.
SOPs impact company growth.
Standard operating procedures help set the tone for employees to produce and offer quality products and services for customers. As the company expands, SOPs can make it easier to duplicate processes across several locations, which directly impacts company growth. SOPs also standardize tasks, reducing the waste of billable hours spent on finding information and doing tasks multiple times because of errors and oversight.
While SOPs cannot force outcomes, SOPs support your assessment of what is being done, how it is being done, and who is doing it. The results and feedback that SOPs can help produce should support the leadership in making decisions to improve or remove business processes and tasks. HRinMotion can assist you with creating and evaluating your current SOPs so you can enhance your company culture and better reach your company goals.