You see the value in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for your organization and you are ready to get started, but you may be wondering, ‘Where do I begin’? Or perhaps, you have started the process, but you aren’t sure how to implement them. Let’s learn to use SOPs with this Beginner’s Guide!
First, you have made one of the best decisions for your business that you possibly could. Get ready for consistency, productivity, and even increased profits in the future! Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s navigate how you can use Standard Operating Procedures to reach your desired results.
Destination #1: Formatting and Readability
If you want your employees to use the Standard Operating Procedures and receive the full benefits from them, they need to be user-friendly. There are two key areas to focus on before rolling out your SOPs: formatting and readability.
Your Standard Operating Procedures should have a simple, clean format that is organized. All SOPs for your organization should be uniform. This facilitates clear communication and conveys professionalism. Outline documented processes in the least amount of steps necessary. Find the balance in providing sufficient information and detail without being too wordy and convoluted.
Make it easier for your employees to adopt your Standard Operating Procedures quickly by making them appropriately formatted. Furthermore, when employees need to refer back to the SOPs, sound formatting helps them locate what they need quickly.
Readability is vital to the success of your Standard Operating Procedures. If your employees can’t easily read them, they won’t use them.
Avoid: Complex language and complicated explanations.
Opt For: Clear and concise language that is easy to read.
Standard Operating Procedures should not be difficult to understand. Use simple language and avoid SOPs that are overly wordy.
Avoid: Fonts that are difficult to process and font sizes that are too big or too small.
Opt For: Legible fonts and font sizes.
Your font and size affect reading speed, comfort, and comprehension. Any employee should be able to easily follow the SOP to complete a task from start to finish without straining or getting lost.
Avoid: Using Industry terms and abbreviations without explanation.
Opt For: Clearly define Industry terms and decode abbreviations from the start.
Before you lay out any step-by-step job process, create a list or a table that defines all industry terms and decodes abbreviations. This will provide a place of reference for your employees, particularly new team members, as they read the SOP.
When Standard Operating Procedures have both readability and sound formatting, they will be quickly adopted and understood by your employees. This leads to process improvement and increased productivity for your business.
Destination #2: Accessibility
You can produce great Standard Operating Procedures for your organization, but if your employees can’t find them- it’s a waste. Once you are ready to roll out your SOPs, make it known to all team members where to find them.
Accessibility also means that when employees need to refer back to the SOPs, they can quickly locate them. House your Standard Operating Procedures in a centralized place.
Rather than keeping your SOPs in print format found only in the Human Resources office, it is highly recommended to keep them in a digital form that can easily be distributed and referenced. Accessibility leads to usability.
Destination #3: Ensure the SOPs were Received and Read
Once you have decided where to maintain your organization’s Standard Operating Procedures, ensure that all of your employees have received access to and have read them. This is a great time to troubleshoot if anyone has difficulty locating or accessing them.
Your Standard Operating Procedures are pointless if your team members don’t take the time to read them. Be sure to follow up with them. Think about setting a deadline to have them read and ask your team members to provide any feedback.
Destination #4: Track Use and Compliance
Now it is time to track the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures. To reach your goal of consistency and quality in processes, compliance is essential. To gauge comprehension in a time-effective way, utilize short quizzes to identify any gaps in understanding. Tweak the SOP to fill in any missing information.
Following a rollout of your Standard Operating Procedures or any time that you make an update to your SOPs, communicate with the staff involved. Confirm receipt and comprehension of any changes made.
Destination #5: Keep Your SOPs Up to Date
The last thing you want after working so hard to create your SOPs is to let them become obsolete. As your processes grow and change, you must update your Standard Operating Procedures to reflect them. Regular review of your SOPs is an important step to continued success. To be effective, they must be relevant.
Try setting a reminder every three to six months to review your written processes. If something changes with your business operations, take the time to record it in your Standard Operating Procedures.
By regularly maintaining your SOPs, processes will remain consistent and compliant with industry standards. Furthermore, onboarding new hires is easier than ever. Provide access to the SOPs and ensure comprehension, and you are good to go!
This Beginner SOP Guide has brought us to the final destination. You are ready to use your Standard Operating Procedures!
To get the most out of your SOPs, don’t miss any of these stops along the way:
- Proper Formatting & Ensure Readability
- Received & Read by Your Team Members
- Track Use and Compliance
- Keep them Up to Date
Are you ready for improved processes and increased profits? You are now!
To learn more about Standard Operating Procedures, check out our other articles: What is Process Documentation & Improvement, Enhance Business Operations with SOPs, and Why Standard Operating Procedures are Important.
If you would like assistance creating or managing your organization’s Standard Operating Procedures, contact SOPHeroes today!