5 Tips on Writing SOPs to Create a More Productive Team

5 Tips on Writing SOPs to Create a More Productive Team

SOPs are some of the most valuable documents you can have in your business. They establish best practices, boost productivity, and ensure you’re achieving consistent results. If you want your team to benefit and learn from SOPs, you have to make sure you’re writing them well.

A lot of business owners forget a few simple rules when drafting their SOPs. Unfortunately, this oversight often results in costly business mistakes that could have been avoided. To ensure you’re providing your team members with the support they need, remember these five tips on writing SOPs. 

What are SOPs?

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are documents containing all the instructions, knowledge, and resources you need to complete a specific policy, process or procedure. They create expectations about the quality of work your team should produce and provide the resources they need to achieve an end goal. Clear expectations ensure consistent results across clients and tasks.

With an SOP database, your team can exhaust all available resources before asking another person for help. SOPs also help reduce errors by providing a standard set of rules and instructions to follow. Less time spent troubleshooting one task saves time and improves team productivity. SOPs also maintain organizational knowledge and ensure your team members retain their skill sets. SOPs promote self-sufficiency, so you won’t have to worry about retraining people who aren’t as well-versed in a specific task. 

Creating an SOP for a small business isn’t as simple as writing instructions. You’ll have to remember all the background knowledge required for completing the task, what systems it’s performed on, and general accessibility (ex. technical jargon, where to find it, etc.) Creating SOPs can be tedious, but it’s crucial to publish clear and concise SOPs to gain productivity benefits. 

5 Tips for Writing SOPs for business owners

5 Tips for Writing SOPs

When reviewing an SOP, I look for three things: clarity, specificity, and additional resources. Some tasks will take longer than others, and everyone interprets concepts differently, so these three factors will help achieve consistent results and knowledge retention. Here are a few tips I suggest keeping in mind while drafting SOPs to provide the support users need to complete a task.

1. Identify how you want things to work.

The most important part of an SOP is to obtain the desired end goal. Before you even start drafting the document, clearly identify the goal and work your way through the processes backward. This method forces you to think critically about each step and helps you envision how you want the SOP to work.

While you’re writing the SOP, ask yourself these questions.

  • Does this approach make sense?
  • Am I using shortcuts or jargon a beginner might not know? Does this impede completing the process?
  • Is there a faster or better way to achieve the same result?

You shouldn’t develop SOP templates for how things work now. Instead, create SOPs envisioning how you want the process to be. Play around with different approaches to find a standard procedure that would make the most sense to a beginner while obtaining the desired result. 

2. Be specific. 

Specificity is one of the most important aspects of an SOP. If you forget to mention a critical detail or gloss over a step, the user may not be able to complete the process. The point of an SOP is to provide enough direction so the user doesn’t have to consult other people or outside resources for help.

Ambiguity can increase the chances of costly mistakes happening. When you’re drafting the SOP and laying out the process, get granular with your instructions. It’s better to provide more detail than less!

how to create a more productive team

3. Include links. 

Instead of giving instructions on where to find specific resources, link them in the SOP and specify which steps they are used in. Your SOPs should offer all the information the user needs in one place. 

Resources may include templates, forms, documents, examples, or other SOPs. Providing the user with as much guidance and information as possible makes it easier to follow instructions and offers additional support for completing the process.

4. Involve other team members. 

Relying solely on one person’s expertise and methods can lead to ineffective SOPs. They may forget to include certain information or overlook linking a resource. Getting other team members involved while writing SOPs provides new viewpoints on approaching the process. 

After writing the SOP, have team members (familiar and unfamiliar with the task) try it and respond with their feedback. Ask what was unclear or at what points they got stuck. This process forces you to look at the SOP from another perspective and helps you identify gaps or room for improvement. It will also help people in the future have an easier time completing the task, saving you time from retraining and mistakes. 

5. Improve over time. 

As your business scales and evolves, your SOPs will as well. Regularly review your SOPs and determine if they’re still applicable to your current practices. Don’t neglect your SOPs! They are a foundational resource for your business, and it’s overwhelming to do a complete rehaul if you aren’t updating your SOPs as you implement new processes.

Writing and refining the SOPs for all your business practices is crucial for providing your team members with the support they need to be productive. Creating SOPs can be tedious, but these documents provide valuable insight and are essential for achieving your business goals. 

If you’re unsure how to create an SOP regarding a specific program or platform procedure, let me help! I’m an expert in navigating and explaining several business tools and processes. Book a call with me today to get started! 

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