What if one of your key employees didn’t return to work tomorrow? Would someone in your office be able to step in and perform their job seamlessly? Probably not, unless your office has SOPs in place, otherwise known as Standard Operating Procedures.
In the aftermath of the natural disasters occurring recently and the inevitable reality of your employees not living forever, it is critical for your office to create SOPs. SOPs are a management tool to streamline your business. They are a living document available to all staff and describe detailed instructions on specific work processes. Your SOP should include:
- Who will carry out a specific task
- What supplies and resources are needed
- Where the task will take place
- When the task must be performed
- How to complete the task
SOPs form the foundation of an organization and should be written to achieve specific results. The purpose of SOPs is to support employees in the daily operations of the business, ensure clarity and make certain employees know policies and standard methods for accomplishing specific tasks. They provide written documentation of best practices and a foundation for:
- Job descriptions
- New hire and employee training
- Benchmarks and tracking to measure productivity
- Performance evaluations
With SOPs in place, management can feel confident that daily operations will run impeccably.
How to Write SOPs
Writing SOPs isn’t as hard as you may think. It sounds like an overwhelming process, but the payoff is critical to your firm’s operation. Use the three simple steps below to get started.
- Identify who will manage the project. This person will be in charge of coordinating, tracking results, implementation and completion of the SOP manual.
- Determine who will be involved in the process. Typically it is easiest to have each employee list every task they perform on a daily basis from start to finish. I have found it to be a manageable process by starting with daily tasks, then moving to weekly, monthly, quarterly and finally annual.
- Finally, employees should take one task at a time and document what they do to complete the task. Download Ironstone’s SOP Template to get started! Ironstone SOP Template
- Test each SOP prior to implementation
- Identify training or qualification requirements to complete the task
- Identify resource materials needed
- Schedule bi-annual or annual reviews of the SOP to identify any updates, gaps or changes
- Consider onsite and offsite storage of your SOP manual
- Define terminology that may not be familiar to all employees
- Upon completion, use a three-ring binder with sheet protectors to house your manual and include a table of contents
SOPs will provide clarity for your entire team and will allow employees to readily take over any specific task whether it be during vacation times or filling a vacancy within the firm.
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