What are SOPs?

A Standard Operating Procedure or commonly known as SOP is a sequential instruction document gathered by an organization which is an integral part of Business Process Management. SOPs are step by step instructions which are performed in order to complete the task in hand and regulate workflow management of an organization. Corporate have SOPs for every function and they also act as a training guide for employee’s training within the organization.

Each organization has its own way of managing & have SOPs which are most suitable for their way of working. The procedures are written in accordance with the rules and regulations of the organization which are formed based on the management style of the organization & how aggressively the organization is progressing.

An autocratic management style lets the leader make decisions unilaterally with the middle & lower management not being included in goal setting or any decision making; while on the other hand, a permissive management style is one in which the entire organization works parallelly to set their goals.

These procedures are important for the smooth functioning of an organization & imbibe responsibility among the team whilst handing over the authorities, at the same time. SOPs build work flow accountability and task management.

An SOP defines all the expected practices in various field or businesses where quality standards exist. A Standard Operating Procedure especially if followed correctly ensures the success of the company in terms of management, operations, strategy & expansion.

The Creation of these documents go through various processes. The below mentioned tools should be made use of, while formulating the Standard Operating Procedures.

  • The workflow charts or diagrams of the SOP will be selectively chosen as per the type of the SOP that needs to be created.
  • SOPs eliminate the complexity of various processes in an organization and hence are also referred to as process documents.
  • The documents subjected for validation should possess checklists to forecast the possible implementation or failures.
  • Once checklists are incorporated, the SOP will require audit lists to test the implementation.
  • After successful implementation, the team checks on how revisions can be made by the nature of the result the SOP yielded.
  • To avoid deviation in the formation process, SOP templates should contain forms & formats for specific tasks.

SOPs have to be customized as per the needs of the company. They are diverse and no two companies or businesses will have similar or identical procedures. They vary from people to people, function to function & company to company. Every leader or an entrepreneur will have their own style and follow their own diverse best practices.

Though SOPs are very important and are absolutely required for the operations of an organization, it is very important that these procedures withstand the test of time.

All the SOP documents need to be updated and validated regularly as the current industry and market are ever advancing and reaching leaps and bounds.

Hence most of these documents in a well-organized company/organization need to be reviewed for the old and outdated procedures, at least once in a calendar year.

These documents are meant to be styled and formatted in a professional manner as it should be in line with the latest technology, hierarchical structure & the organizational policies. This also represents the capability of a well-organized company and helps in delivering excellent customer experience.

SOP eventually work as a blueprint for upcoming businesses as they help in laying out the foundation and act as a backbone for new companies.

What everyone needs to understand is that the contents of SOPs are not the only way of performing a task, but it is a collection of the best methods of performing the task, having least exposure to a risk of failure. Hence the creation of SOP is thoroughly validated and the creation of the SOP itself has SOPs.

There are various benefits of SOPs, few of them are as listed below:

Minimize Errors: Since SOP’s are prepared after careful examination of errors/loopholes/lacuna occurred in the past, there are fewer or no vulnerabilities in the SOP designed.

Performance Tracking: Organizations have multiple workflows to carry out tasks. However, these documents are unable to unify employee output and (or) are intersecting with other reference materials. A well-defined SOP solves the problem of unwanted differences.

Transparency: Standard Operational Procedure for larger enterprises is not merely a document for workflow but is a tool to implement transparency.

Goal Reviewing: Following SOPs for every function in an organization helps identify outcome or objectives which will ensure we are on the right path & moving towards our goals & also measure our achievements against it.

Reduce Learning Curve: These simple workflow documents reduces the training curve for the new employees joining the organization. With strong SOPs in place, the output of a new joinee can be seen faster & the time taken for training a new joinee shall reduce as they would exactly be aware of their responsibilities & authorities.

Resolve Problems: They are one of the most productive documents within the organization as all the formulated steps act as a roadmap to resolve the problem. Each step has a well-defined authority, time to be taken for carrying out the process, the process deviations, exceptions & escalations.

Adhere To TimeLines: Timelines are the most important part of a project and SOPs help optimize the operational methodology of work which reduces overall turn-around-time.

Clear Roles & Responsibility: Writing standard operating procedures ensures that the roles and responsibility of every employee are clear, helping them operate individually when required and discourage delay and failures.

Wel-Defined KPIs: KPIs are essential for workflow monitoring and track employee performance.

Process Tracking: SOPs come in handy while tracking a process which in turn saves resources of an enterprise as the possibilities of roadblocks & delay in communication are reduced.

Sop Audit: SOP being an end to end document, help audit the quality of work in contrast to various parameters so that a company’s efficiency can be monitored and improved at the same time, hence without a well-structured SOP, audit mechanism is inefficient.

Traning: Training and on-boarding of employees are the most important building block of quality work delivery; well-drafted SOPs serve as resource material for employees.

We at Mind-a-Mend believe the function of SOP is to make workflows simpler not complex. To achieve it we are transforming the Standard Operating Procedure to make it ‘Simple Operating Procedure’ as complexity in the document will protrude unwanted trajectories in a workflow. SOPs are not just documents explaining the workflows, but it is a tool to make a way of working very simple. Thus, invest quality time during designing SOPs and take direction or help of an SOP Consultant. As creation of SOPs is a strategy & is time consuming with a high probability of failure or delays, it needs proper attention to details and guidance of a professional for implementation of robust methods for the success & growth of any business.

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