Over the past ten years, I have met dozens of business people who are oblivious to an SOP. After being told what it is, over 80% of them do not have an SOP.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.
The SOP is in the binder the COO carries around with him or her…or should be carrying around with them. Every business should have an operations manager and every operations manager should have an SOP. Even entrepreneur and solopreneurs should develop an SOP.
Why Small Businesses Do Not Develop SOP
During my interview with business owners who do not know about an SOP, I find their excuses for not having an SOP to be somewhat all about the same. They claim either they “Do not have the Time to develop an SOP”…or, “I have not seen a need for an SOP.”
It is sad to see how many business operations has changed especially for the entrepreneur and small businesses. Yes, it takes time and time is money for many businesses. But, what happens when it comes time to hire someone and you have to train them on how you do business. Or, if someone comes up to the business owner with a checkbook in their hand asking how much they want for their business?
What Are Your Procedures?
A standard operating procedure is a standardized document that describes the details of a procedure for the execution of routine activities. It includes relevant quality criteria and references to business rules, standards, or regulations, so to ensure efficient execution and homogeneous outcome.
Every detail is outlined, described and worded so the reader knows exactly how to perform a function or duty associated with a particular function. With this documentation, it is impossible for someone to know, or learn to understand, what or why they are doing.
Quality Controlled by SOP
The company SOP is the controlling document for quality control. Every process should be focused on maintaining a specific high level of quality. Maintaining the same high quality one customer received to another customer is the focus of all of the procedures documented in the SOP.
In the video production industry, the SOP is the document the producers and directors pour over for camera and light settings they have successfully used before. The SOP also is where they archive new processes and settings they find successful.
A business cannot efficiently operate without some sort of SOP! Every business leader needs to know the boundaries of what their business is capable of doing. The SOP highlights those boundaries.
Development of an SOP is not for everyone. It takes some who is focused but can see the big picture. It takes someone who is excellent at solving problems but can also see how to avoid problems.
I could be that person you need, so…let me know how I can help.
Also published on Medium.