Is your start-up or business stuck in a rut, looking to break through that ‘glass ceiling’? No doubt, you recognize the need for standardizing and documenting your business’ work processes. This can ensure consistency, efficiency, and quality. However, to a busy company, coming up with SOPs for all your repetitive tasks across your organization can seem daunting and takes time to conceive.
This is where a sample Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) template can be handy. A template is a pattern or a form that can be used as a guide to making something. Templates can be used repeatedly, saving time from having to start from scratch each time. A sample SOP template can help you create your company’s Standard Operating Procedures quickly and efficiently.
In this article, you will see how you can create a sample SOP template. But what are SOP templates, and how can they help your business?
What is a Sample SOP template?
An SOP template is a pre-formatted document, containing a standard layout, that can be reused each time a new document is created. With many details already in place, relevant parts simply need to be filled in rather than creating an entirely new layout every time it is used to build out your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
SOPs are a set of documented standardized instructions specific to your operation that describe the steps that must be followed each time to complete routine tasks and guarantee consistency in processes. These also guarantee compliance with business and industry standards as well as government regulations.
What Can Sample SOP Templates Do for Your Business?
They can help your business:
- Standardize procedures
- Have well-thought-out processes
- Carry out business processes faster and more accurately
- Answer SOP queries
- Use standards and regulations as a guide to breaking down the necessary parts to create a sample SOP outline
- Maintain compliance
- Get a jumpstart building SOPs using a consistent format template
- Establish an organizational structure for a Quality Management System
- Inform everyone of the standard operating procedure template
- Save your workers a lot of time
- Scale and develop
- Provide an excellent starting point to standardize and document critical processes
Some of the many industries that use SOP templates:
- Information Technology
- Human Resources
Four Types of SOP Template Formats
There are four common SOP formats. They are step-by-step, hierarchical steps, checklists, and flowcharts.
This type is a simple SOP template and is used by most businesses whose procedures are pretty straightforward. Use numbered lists or bullet lists. Simple steps that describe what employees need to complete a task are best.
This template format is vital for procedures that must be carried out in a critical sequence to the expected outcome. Use hierarchical step formatting for complex processes with several substeps, e.g., 1, followed by 1.1, 1.2.1, 1.2.2, and so on.
An SOP checklist (To-do-list) template consists of a list of items to complete a task or refer to and is easy to create. Use this type of formatting for equipment maintenance and safety compliance for auditing effectiveness. It boosts accountability and reduces employee forgetfulness.
This is a diagram useful when following a standardized procedure which can lead to several different outcomes, with different steps to take accordingly. This format can also help your employees visualize the entire process from start to finish. Use a flowchart in the Reference section of any SOP, regardless of the procedure template format.
How to Create a Sample SOP template
You can easily create sample SOP templates in a Notion, Word, Excel, or Google Docs workspace. Or for your convenience, download any of a large number of available sample SOP templates into your chosen workspace.
Regardless of the method you choose, you can have a basic, repeatable SOP format template that you can customize based on your business process flowcharts. You can then start documenting your procedures to set your business up for success.
Your work can automatically be saved employing a file/folder naming convention, organized logically. Readily access relevant SOPs from one central location.
The Header is a necessary part of the SOP template format. After you have chosen your template, you can format it the way you want. A document control block is a table in the header section. Whether or not the SOP template you use has a control block, a header should consist of the following:
- Company name
- The title of the SOP
- The SOP identification and version numbers
- Issue date and/or document update
- Name of the department(s) involved
- Names of those who prepared and approved the SOP
- Names of reviewers, including review date
The SOP Footer contains the following information:
- Date printed
- Page number in the page of page(s) style
- Name of the procedure
An effective Standard Operating Procedure template format contains the following elements:
Explain in one or two sentences the goal of the procedure. This can include the high-level and on-the-ground impact intent of the SOP.
At the beginning of the SOP, include a statement that clearly defines what is and what is not included.
Roles and Responsibilities
This part outlines the roles involved in performing the tasks and those responsible for handling potential problems, implementing, reviewing, and updating the process.
Clearly explain acronyms or terminology in the SOP that may not be familiar to those who will be performing the work.
Build out Standard Operating Procedures here. As noted, most business operating procedures are simple, straightforward, and easy to follow steps. Others are more detailed.
In either case, this element of the SOP template enables your workers to focus on what to do to perform their routine tasks. Safety measures are the only item that should accompany a relevant step.
House additional reading on how to perform tasks in appendices.
Additional references can include:
- Workflow boards
- Screen recordings via Loom
- Government regulations
- Supplementary content
Effective SOPs start with choosing a sample SOP template that matches your business workflow. Customize relevant formatting and elements to fit your needs. Maintain consistency in style, fonts, bolding, and margins. This ensures that your company’s SOP documentation has a consistent format and level of procedural detail.
By means of a centralized hub, inform your employees that will be performing repetitive tasks in your entire business workflow about the SOP template that will be used to document your processes. As a result, you can have collaboration from your team to help you document processes the way you want, as they are performed.
Creating your sample SOP template and writing Standard Operating Procedures is a time-consuming and cumbersome task that can be intimidating. But it is a must if your business is to standardize and document all its processes, and carry them out faster and more accurately, and with greater consistency and quality.
SOPheroes can do this for you so that you will have SOPs that are easy to follow and adopt by your employees. Document your well-conceived business processes with SOPs. From client onboarding to product or service deliverables, SOPs can enhance your business operations. This will enable your business to ‘break through that glass ceiling’ and take it to the next level.