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Standard Operating Procedure Template
Think Toward the Future
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Select a Standard Operating Procedure Template Format
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Know Who You’re Writing For
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Write the Standard Operating Procedure Template
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Standard Operating Procedure Template

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Creating standard operating procedure templates will be a length task that requires hard work (source)

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) aren’t new to the world of businesses and organizations. They’ve been a longstanding necessity within them because they work. SOPs are a written set of instructions that document a routine or process that is repeated by an individual or organization.

They’re incredibly valuable because they’ll provide consistency and quality in your product. It’s like having an insurance card. Using them can only help and will reduce human errors and make your organization better and more efficient in the long term. They may include fundamental operation standards or technical procedures that an individual will be required to do.

Creating a standard operating procedure template is a necessity for any organization that strives to achieve more and wants to better.

Benefits of Standard Operating Procedure Templates

The benefits of SOP templates will come in many shapes and sizes.

Firstly, you may be saving yourself from legal trouble by using SOP templates. Many organizations will be required by state and federal governments to use SOP to ensure safety for the employee and, oftentimes, the consumer as well. These measures will prevent errors from occurring that could be dangerous or cause harm to someone.  

Beyond legal standards, you’ll have increased communication and fewer human error from those performing the procedure. Having step-by-step instructions for the procedure will help new employees and veterans from making mistakes and, in turn, will help your organization waste fewer resources and time and effort.

They may even be beneficial if there is already a published method that is being utilized. By using an SOP template, you can provide more in-depth detail that may be overlooked or unknown. Consider the SOP template as a way to improve what is already generally known and to reduce any errors along the way.

You’ll be able to look back on projects in the future and understand how to complete them through SOPs as well. Recurring projects or functions will become much easier in the future as SOPs are incorporated into daily use.

Writing a Standard Operating Procedure Template

Finding someone with experience and the know-how to create a well-crated SOP template may be difficult. The goal is to use these SOPs for the long term, so you’ll want to ensure that they’re created to the best standards possible.

They should be created concisely and include step-by-step instructions. They should be easy to read, and preferably around an 8th grade reading level for optimal readability. This is the reading level that most adults in the US can adequately read at without losing any information to confusion.

Ideally, you’ll want it to be written in an active voice and present verb tense. This is according to the EPA.

Keep the document from being redundant or too wordy. Lengthy, wordy writing can overcomplicate a subject and you may quickly lose the reader. Keeping it simple and short is the ideal way to transfer knowledge to the reader. Consistency will also be important so the reader won’t get lost along the way or become confused. Ensure that you’re referring to aspects of the process, or the process itself, by the same names with the same abbreviations. Industry knowledge and language aren’t shared by everyone and terminology can quickly become a barrier to understanding when a reader knows the process by different words.

How to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Template

Now that you understand the benefits and requirements behind creating a standard operating procedure template, it’s time to dive into the actual business of how to create one. You’ll likely be creating several of these templates if you’re just now beginning your SOP journey, so keep these ideas and rules in mind for the future. There isn’t an official standard for creating an SOP template, but there are aspects that are commonly found throughout organizations and things that matter enough that you should attempt to reenact them in your SOP template.

Getting flexible with SOPs will also push the quality of your material higher. Here are the steps.

Think Toward the Future

The first step you’ll need to take to create an SOP template is to define what the overall goal or result of the SOP is. Do you need an employee to understand how to use a software or how to work through a daily process? In either of these cases, the goal is for the employee to understand the process and be able to repeat it without issue.

This doesn’t take into account variables that will affect the process. For example, if you need to input data into software to complete a daily process, that is irrelevant. Right now, you just want to focus on identifying the goal of the procedure.

If you need assistance identifying the process vs procedure, try using a template to help you along the way. Analyzing a process to understand how it works may also be useful in creating an SOP template. Typically, SOP templates are used for processes and procedures that are repeated daily, weekly, or monthly. Creating the SOP will help reduce the errors and mishaps that occur within these. This is crucial for optimizing processes within your business. SOPs will help you optimize processes and that only works to benefit you.

As you comb through your thoughts for SOP template ideas, look to processes and procedures for areas that could use them. If there is already an SOP template in place, it may be necessary to review and edit that instead.

Select a Standard Operating Procedure Template Format

You’ll have three options when it comes to selecting a format and each will provide their benefits.

Here are the options for SOP formats:

  • Flowcharts: These are useful if you’re wanting to map out and plan procedures that have a large number of possible outcomes. This will help you map them out easier.
  • Hierarchical Steps: If there are procedures that require a lot of steps or have a lot of decisions that are required to complete it, hierarchical step formats can help bring clarity to the reader.
  • Simple Steps: If an SOP is short or relatively easy to follow, a simple step format can be an easy way to bring knowledge to the reader. These can be ideal for smaller tasks and can be created with bulleted points or a few quick paragraphs worth of reading.

Know Who You’re Writing For

Before you begin writing the SOP template, you’ll want to understand who your audience is and how they think.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What is their background? If they’re already familiar with the process, you may be able to include simple industry terms that the user can relate to. If there is no background knowledge, you’ll want to use laymen's terms to bring as much clarity as possible.
  • Who Will Use the SOP? If a procedure is done by multiple people, you’ll want to define roles and responsibilities for each individual and explain how they interact with each other.

Write the Standard Operating Procedure Template

The final step will be the most time-consuming. This is where you take all the knowledge you’ve gained an apply it on paper.

Here are the things you’ll want to include:

  • A title page with identification numbers, general information, and titles
  • A table of contents to clearly explain where information can be found
  • The procedure itself and instructions

Review and Adapt

Reviewing and adapting your SOP template will be better when done collectively. (source)

Once your SOP has been written and gone into effect, you’ll want to continually improve it for the best results. Review the document, test it out, edit it, and then think of how to optimize it further. This will be a constant process but will ultimately prove extremely valuable to your organization as you work out how to best improve procedures. It’s important that you work with as many people as you can during this process. If you’d like additional resources, process improvement templates are relatively easy to find and can provide tons of value.

Keeping New Hires Up To Date With SOPs

Any company that has recently dealt with a string of new hires is no stranger to the fact that it can often be time consuming, and resource demanding, to bring all of them up to date, and what they need to do in order to carry out their assigned duties as effectively as possible. After the whole process of hiring a new employee is over, it’s very important to catch them up to speed as quickly as possible to help thin out any confounding factors that may become present in the streamlining of business efficiency. 

Done correctly, and in a thorough fashion, standard operating procedures can serve as the standard basis for training new hires. An effective SOP will include details about the ongoing process / procedure, and will fill the new hires in on company objectives. SOPs can be used to train new hires by;

  • Showing Them Procedures To Be Carried Out
  • Filling Them In On Project Boundaries
  • Maintaining Communication Over Time

New Hire Checklists are a great way to ensure that a companies new employees are being presented with as much important information as possible, and that all of their information is being relayed back to the company and those who handle the paperwork.

Planning An Event With SOPs

If a company happens to be throwing a holiday party, or perhaps just gathering a conference that will involve many different details, an event planning checklist can be implemented to help make more sense of everything involved in the event itself. In turn, event planning can become complicated to the point where it would be better carried out as a standard operating procedure. Different types of SOPs and their pertained flowcharts can be used to help employees, team members and managers of a company be more on par with one another with the intentions of the companies event. Flowcharts can be used effectively by detailing aspects of the event that are crucial for the company's overall presentation. 

If the event the company or organization is throwing happens to be multi-faceted, it could be more useful to implement SOPs to detail out the important aspects of the event. 

Staying Safe With PCI Compliance

Perhaps the most important aspect of implementing the use of standard operating procedures is that they help companies stay legally clear of any trouble, and are often required to help guarantee safety for both the company and consumer. Protecting cardholder data is a very crucial aspect of business for a company, and the regular maintenance of it can keep the company from running into any legal trouble. In order to stay on top of PCI compliance and awareness, using a PCI compliance checklist would be recommended. 

The use of a PCI compliance checklist can be carried out and presented with a simple format of a standard operating procedure. An SOP format such as a simple flowchart can help to bring awareness to team members and employees of the company about rules and regulations within PCI compliance, and what they can do individually to help the company steer clear of any regulation disturbance.

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