As school systems grow, hospitals expand into new wings, and businesses move into bigger offices, the need for standardization becomes top-of-mind as processes and workflows grow too chaotic to efficiently handle.
Let’s say you’re a restaurant owner with too many loyal customers to seat (not the worst problem to have). Your solution is to open up a second location on the other side of town. But how can you ensure that this new location is the SAME EXACT restaurant that your guests have come to know and love? Menu, online ordering process, service, even look and feel should translate over seamlessly if you want to get customers to take their wallets and bellies to the new location. A standard operating procedure is the best solution for this scenario. Read on to learn more about standard operating procedures (SOPs) and how to implement your own.
According to Britannica, a standard operating procedure (SOP) is “a set of written guidelines or instructions for the completion of a routine task”. Businesses and organizations of all varieties rely on SOPs to improve performance, increase productivity and efficiency, and ensure quality. A standard operating procedure serves as a guide for members of an organization so that they know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
The overarching purpose of implementing an SOP is to streamline organizational processes so that tasks can be completed in a uniform manner, more efficiently than before. In fact, repeatability is at the heart of any successful standard operating procedure. A clear SOP process mitigates any guesswork for employees completing tasks, setting a standard for how specific workflows should be performed. As a result, your business will experience the same output regardless of who is implementing the company’s SOP. A clear, structured procedure reduces the time it takes to get things done, which can give employees the time back that they need to focus on more meaningful tasks that may not be so easily standardized.
Standard operating procedures are ideal for any vertical organization. They are especially useful for businesses needing to perform the same task over and over again. Some of the industries that often develop standard operating procedures include manufacturing, maintenance, education, healthcare, food services, municipalities, and the military. If you want to grow your business, SOPs are one of the best tools at your disposal since they make it easier to scale without sacrificing quality.
Standard operating procedures will obviously look a little different on an organization-by-organization basis, but a typical SOP process will include each of the following elements.
Always start with the “why”. Your company’s SOP should clearly state the purpose of the work and outline any objectives. Here, it is important to define who the SOP is for, the problems it will address, and when it will be used.
For any process, you must consider how detailed the SOP needs to be. This can be influenced by a number of factors. Consider how important the topic is to your operations. In manufacturing, health and safety procedures, for example, will probably need to be more clear and detailed than a procedure for how to operate a single piece of equipment. Also, consider the audience—newer employees would understandably require more information than more experienced staff.
After outlining the purpose of the SOP and highlighting your objectives, you must provide guidelines for how to complete the necessary tasks to get there. Procedures provide all necessary steps to be taken by employees in an easily digestible format, like a checklist. That being said, this section will need to be the most detailed, since this is the “meat” of the standard operating procedure.
Establish who is responsible for performing each of the tasks in your organization’s SOP process. This will also save time by setting up a “directory” of who to contact if specific problems arise. Here, you will want to be sure to define who is in charge of implementation, review, and updates to mitigate confusion and miscommunication.
Outlining responsibilities leads to improved accountability, a key benefit of SOPs. Make a clear distinction between members of your organization over who is accountable for what for assigned projects.
There are three main formats that can be used when developing your company’s standard operating procedure. We’ve outlined their key characteristics below.
By implementing standard operating procedures into your organization, you can achieve a plethora of benefits, including:
A standard operating procedure is a great tool for any organization looking to streamline its processes and maximize efficiency. They are especially important for organizations focused on growth, which absolutely need standardized procedures across the board. To make this as seamless as possible, you need an all-inclusive software experience. And, you’re at the perfect place to get just that. FlowPath helps you standardize your processes with automated work orders, maintenance, events, notifications, projects, and reporting in a single platform. Not to mention, FlowPath can help you quickly and easily import any existing data your team may need to get up and running in no time.
You can build your facility’s SOP checklists right in FlowPath, and then you can easily duplicate them across locations and business units. You also have the ability to grant users different permission levels based on their roles. This way, they can collaborate and see current work initiatives without getting overwhelmed by irrelevant tasks meant for other employees.