Process of Designing & Implementation of SOPs

Process of a Process

There is a Chinese proverb that says if you want to know about the road ahead, ask those who are coming back. The point is to define what lies ahead; one must have walked it, seen it, or heard about it. A process is like a journey and when a process has to be defined, it will demand fact-based insights and information. It will demand vision, experience, and expertise. There will be both predictable and unpredictable nuances that cannot be decided by arm-chair thinking. Since SOPs are a popular and effective tool to develop processes, SOP design is also clouted by the same style of thinking. In a SOP development process, a definite methodology is required. High-quality experience and expertise go into it. This blog is bifurcated into two sections – SOP Design and SOP Implementation to deal with both the planning and fieldwork involved in introducing SOP-based processes.

#1 SOP Design

Experienced and professional SOP consultants would second that listing the paybacks of standard operating procedures may be an easy task but there is no universally-accepted answer to how to write a standard operating procedure. This problem can be addressed by adopting a sound approach to SOP design and development. Explained next is one of the frameworks for SOP design.

Defining the Process Requirements
Say a company wants to streamline its payroll process and bring it under the umbrella of SOPs. The first task is to establish the role and objectives of the process. The process prerogatives at the operational level are derived from various considerations like

  • How will the salaries and incentives be calculated? Wherefrom these inputs shall come?
  • What will be the disbursal timelines?
  • What will be the role of HR and other departments?
  • Who will be the approving authorities?
  • What will be the channel of payment?
  • What statutory deductions and other regulatory compliances are involved?
  • What are the different forms of coordination involved with other departments?

All these prerogatives vary from company to company. However, establishing these requirements is important as they carry a strong bearing on the payroll process SOPs.

As-Is Process Analysis

The next step is mapping down how the process under consideration is currently being carried out. Here, the key objective is to determine how the process activities are actually carried out along with other practices and standards being followed. Scores of data and information in both formal and informal formats are obtained and processed at this stage via planned observation and enquiries from all concerned process stakeholders. The insights gathered in this stage are of significant value for the next stage.

Process Gap analysis

With the awareness of process requirements and the existing ways of process execution, it becomes possible to spot the gaps or deviations between what is and what needs to be i.e. between the as-is process (existing) and the to-be process (new, improvised). Finding these nonconformities to a high degree of detail should be the objective at this stage. For example, policy and process may require that the purchase manager should approve the procurement orders before these requisitions are sent to suppliers. But in practice, teams tend to work in informal manners to get the intended results but without strict adherence to the established policies and processes. Gaps like these pose a big threat to processes when teams change or their internal coordination breaks.

Development of To-Be Process using SOPs

The information and insights assimilated from diversified sources in the previous stages put businesses in a position to develop new processes. SOP is one of the best tools for process and procedure development because it involves the application of a high degree of detailing in mapping workflows, defining individual operations and activities, and securing the necessary coordination with both internal and external entities.

In developing the new process SOPs in the light of the new requirements; it is important not just to think of the process in question but also its enterprise-wide ramifications. New procedures and elements that come into the picture can affect other processes of other departments as well. This helps to build a network of SOPs that facilitates infallible coordination between processes and process owners across an organisation.

Process Validation

Despite all the measures adopted in developing standard operating procedures; they might still fail to meet the expectations and standards when put into action. Validation is an effort to make the necessary adjustments to make the new SOPs deliver more accurate results. This makes conducting test runs of the new SOPs as pilot projects and progressively including more areas an effective strategy in SOP design and implementation.

The scope of improvisation is never zero in SOP design. Sometimes there are avoidable redundancies which make processes quicker. Needless involvement of process owners must be avoided. It is quite a possibility that adding new elements could make a process more dependable but at the cost of making it slightly extensive.

Groundwork for Process Automation

The use of automation tools and technologies for the execution of business processes is increasingly becoming an unavoidable reality. One of the most significant fallouts of SOP development and implementation is that it helps build the foundation for process automation. Process definitions dictate how any automation tool will run. So, a vital consideration in SOP design is to keep in mind the capabilities and constraints of potential process automation tools and technologies that may be inducted sooner in the future.

If process automation is already on the agenda, it becomes a part of the SOP design to identify the best-fit automation solutions for process execution. Businesses need a strong support team to help them in these efforts which also includes budgeting, software customisation, vendor selection, and implementation assistance.

Change Management, SOP Training & Support
Even the most routine of operational activities executed can appear alien to employees when presented in the light of new ways of working. It takes time to convert this unfamiliarity into habits. And during this time, employees’ productivity is hampered which in turn slows down the speed and performance of business processes and operations. It is also common to witness resistance to SOP-based working for both valid and invalid reasons. However, organisations need to take a more pragmatic and inclusive approach. This includes applying relevant concepts of change management, providing necessary education and training, following up for feedback, and if it does not sound much, providing incentives. This approach becomes even more crucial when automation tools and technologies are being introduced.

Control: Analytics, Feedback, Process Audits

Business processes and operations are never final and are always subject to changes triggered by both internal and external. Whether the change is big or small, these changes must be incorporated into the process definitions or the SOPs otherwise the process performance and results will be affected. One way to identify these changes is to monitor deviations on a regular basis with the use of automation and analytics. Another way is to collect feedback from the level of actual operations. Planning for process audits should be a part of SOP design and process management as it creates the provision for process improvisations in the future.

#2 SOP Implementation

Executive Sponsorship

The role and involvement of one or more of the senior leaders of an organisation in implementing any major overhaul cannot be undermined. This applies to SOP implementation projects as well. Senior leaders can keep a show full of life. They can share their vision and insights carved out of their years of experience. The involvement of leaders inspires people. If anything goes off track, they can bring back order more quickly because of their higher positions in organisation structures. Their intervention is vital in instances of project cost overruns.

The opposite virtues are distinct when executive sponsorship is missing. Projects get delayed. External entities dilly-dally. The flow of project funds is stifled owing to slow progress by finance divisions because they too have their own prerogatives to maintain.

Handover from the SOP Design/Development Team to the SOP Implementation Team

Once the SOP blueprints are available, the focus shifts from the design team to the team that will supervise the implementation. This implementation team is like the change agents. However, the implementation plan must be made in coordination with members from both design and execution groups. Various important elements of an SOP implementation plan are:

  • Where to start and finish implementing standard operating procedures
  • Who will supervise
  • Who will provide training and support
  • Budgeting and resource allocation
  • Measures to minimise hampers to routine operations
  • Determination of success parameters, timeline for implementation and measurement of performance


Before launching any organisation-wide change, it is important to convey a message to all the affected stakeholders. The idea is not to make a change look like a bolt from the blues but to help employees prepare for the incoming change. Many a time change is resisted because of a lack of transparency and efforts on the part of the management to help employees give a clear and relevant picture. Some resistance may be simply a result of following others who are resisting without any solid ground. Whatever the case, it is the responsibility of the project team to put forward the best possible efforts to help employees understand and embrace the new ways of working.

SOP Training

The intensity of training required for successful SOP implementation depends on the complexity level of the SOPs in question. However, SOP training should not be avoided if certain conditions are prevailing. Three such important conditions are:

  • New employees: Employees coming from other organisations or freshers need an introduction to business processes as they must be carried out. What they have learnt in previous organisations or theoretical knowledge often proves to be insufficient for the active business requirements.
  • New SOPs are different from the existing SOPs or practices: New SOPs need not necessarily only mean completely new procedures. SOPs can be new in terms of their constituents also. For example, complaint resolution timelines for different types of complaints may be new in the new SOPs. This change comes with changes in how each type of complaint is resolved in a newly determined manner.
  • New automation tools and technologies are involved: SOP implementation may also come with the introduction of new software or process automation tools and technologies. Employees need to be made convergent with these new technology platforms. The ability of employees to handle these platforms has a significant bearing on the success of SOP implementation.

Monitoring and Feedback, Ongoing corrections in the SOPs

Another vital element of any SOP implementation process is monitoring. During this monitoring phase, checklists are prepared to check conformities between what was intended in the plans and how things are actually moving. The emergence of new and old problems is a big sign of nonconformity or flaws in SOP planning and design. For example, even after implementing improvised SOPs for timely delivery of online orders, if it is found that the delivery timelines have not improved, then there must be flaws in SOP design and/or implementation. The relay of such feedback must take place to the design team for further evaluation and improvisation. After careful analysis, the corrections must be incorporated in a planned manner. In developing and implementing SOPs, we always maintain that this monitoring and reporting is an ongoing activity.

To know more about our SOP consulting services or to speak to one of our professional business process consultants, please drop us a message and we will reach out to you. You can also visit our website to read more about our SOP design and implementation services.


SOP design and implementation is a process that calls for expert and meticulous planning. Here are the major points to be kept under consideration:

SOP Design

  •         Defining the Process Requirements
  •         As-Is Process Analysis
  •         Process Gap analysis
  •         Development of To-Be Process using SOPs
  •         Process Validation
  •         Groundwork for Process Automation
  •         Change Management, SOP Training & Support
  •         Control: Analytics, Feedback, Process Audits

SOP Implementation

  •         Executive Sponsorship
  •         Handover from the Design Team to the Implementation Team
  •         Communication
  •         SOP Training
  •         Monitoring and Feedback, Ongoing corrections in the SOPs

Author Bio


Rupal Agarwal

Chief Strategy Officer
Dr. Rupal’s “Everything is possible” attitude helps achieve the impossible. Dr. Rupal Agarwal has worked with 300+ companies from various sectors, since 2012, to custom-build SOPs, push their limits and improve performance efficiency. Rupal & her team have remarkable success stories of helping companies scale 10X with business process standardization.

Leave a Comment