A standard operating procedure is a straightforward concept: it is the process you use to deliver transformation. you create whatever it is you create. It is the recipe that allows you to mix your effort ingredients to create the same amazing product every, single time.
Actually, it goes further than that. An SOP isn’t just about creating the same product. It also enables improvement: you can’t reliably improve your results if you don’t have a clear, well defined, process.
I do understand that the name oozes bureaucracy and the-reason-why-I-left-my-corporate-job-in-the-first-placeness, but that is a sad, misguided impression.
Business is about delivering a solution to a problem repeatedly and then scaling that delivery, teaching others to do the work and spreading your solution far and wide. You can’t do that if you don’t know what you do and you can’t explain what you do.
Why you need SOPs
- Take the guesswork out of delivery and create a process that you can measure, replicate and automate.
- Turn your service into a product.
- The SOP is the systematization of a process
- An SOP is MORE than a process, it protects your brand and engages your people
- If you don’t have a standard way of operating and you hire people to do work then they will spend all of their time doing work. They will become very busy, but they don’t necessarily deliver any useful work.
- The SOP provides the instructions that people need to do their work.
This means that they can operate in a way that is consistent with your brand. It also ensures that any dependencies are taken care of. If one process is highly dependent on another you can use SOP’s to ensure that the timing and quality of step one meet the needs of step two.
How to Create SOPs (Video)
SOPs don’t need to be complex
The best format for an SOP that we have come across is the checklist. A checklist is a great concept: it is a sequential list of steps with checkboxes so that you can tick off each step in the process.
But checklists have weaknesses: they are static, and it is hard to cram all necessary instructions into the one checklist item.
Once you have a checklist you also run into two problems: when to start the checklist (what is the trigger) and what to do when it ends (what is the handoff).
So, when we suggest building on the checklist to create a more complete, and flexible, SOP.
The tools we use to create SOPs
Asana – great tool for managing checklists, creating workflows, and SOPing the heck out of your company.
Scribe, a magnificent tool for recording steps in your process,
Loom, the best screen recording program in existence,
Tettra, a reasonably priced (starting with a usable free version) wiki you can use to organize your SOPs (Tettra is like the binder, that holds all of the Scribe documents, which contain loom videos).
The SOP Builder, how to create an SOP
Here is a short video on how to create your SOP: