If you are running a business and you haven’t developed any standard operating procedures, you could be falling behind in productivity or even exposing yourself to potential legal issues. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) save your business time and effort. Not to mention, if you don’t have procedures for your day-to-day operations, you might just be hurting your bottom line. Developing SOPs can help you…
It’s likely your team goes through the same operations day-to-day. SOPs work to streamline each operation and make sure there are coherent, easy-to-follow, instructions for regularly conducted tasks and events, as well as any potential problems that could arise, and solutions for those problems. Not only will this help you to avoid errors, but you will also increase productivity and consistency throughout your operations.
However, an SOP can also help with not-so-common activities. If an employee has a question about their work or it’s a task they haven’t performed in several months, they can return to the SOPs. This cuts down on confusion and questions, which saves supervisors, or other team members, time from having to assist them. It also can prevent mistakes caused from an employee being hesitant to ask someone else for assistance.
Develop an Employee Orientation and Training Plan
How long does employee orientation take your HR or management? How much time are you spending to complete the actual training? It could be taking much longer than it needs to, especially if you don’t have a plan. Are all new hires receiving the same information, and does your orientation provide them with a clear understanding of the company and its expectations? An SOP ensures that all of your newest hires have the same training and understand each and every one of their responsibilities before they start work on their own. SOPs can help your training managers cover the same topics, expectations, and details employees need to know for all of their various jobs.
This will also help your new employees cut down on questions for topics that may come up because the training leader forgot to cover them, due to the lack of an SOP. Settling in to their new job quickly will ensure they’re ready to hit the floor running, saving you time as well as money and effort.
Just like your marketing materials, your internal materials need to be consistent with your brand. You want to maintain a single feel and look across the board. To achieve that, your SOPs should have your logo, business name, and any other details specific to your brand in the header or on the first page. Your writing should also be consistent with your brand’s style.
The materials you include in an SOP depend on the purpose of the procedure. For example, if it’s an SOP to cover company communications, you could include instructions for:
- Using social media
- Working with templates for letters, emails, and specific calls
- Responding to legal issues
- Addressing the media and media relations
By having a consistent look to your SOPs, you are enhancing your brand, but you’re also helping your employees stay consistent as well, in all aspects of their work.
Create a Chain of Command
If your employees sometimes aren’t sure exactly who they’re supposed to report to or who’s responsible to complete a task, an SOP can help. It will allow you to write out the exact chain of command for each of your employees and their workflows. This can assist with productivity and prevent errors. Your products will also benefit if they have to go through a number of reviews, changes, and approval by having written out, clear responsibilities and accountabilities assigned to each task in the process.
Meet Complete Legal Requirements
A number of industries and businesses have to adhere to certain operating procedures to meet federal, state, and local laws. In some cases, the SOP itself may be required by law.
A well-written and easily comprehensible SOP can help your business, employees, and customers by reducing legal risks. If your SOP details a certain procedure, and that has been completed correctly, you may not be held legally responsible for user error or issues that occurred after a product or service has been delivered.
Standard operating procedures are beneficial for any business, from retail to aviation, as they can help with any number of day-to-day activities, as well as some more unusual ones that only pop up every once in a while. If your employees are unsure about their task, they can refer to the SOPs instead of waiting for an available manager. When written correctly, procedures can absolutely save your business, employees, and even your customers time, money, and effort.
Are you unsure about what to include in your standard operating procedures? Or do you feel that you’re not getting the full benefits out of them? Could your current SOPs do with a refresh? We can help with these issues and more. Learn how we can assist with training, technical writing needs for manuals, procedures, and work instructions, and crisis management.