If you are searching for a Free Standard Operating Procedure Template, it might be quite an onerous task to find a suitable one.
Are you searching for a specific manual based around what your business does? For example, if you own a hotel – hotel standard operating procedures. Maybe you own a manufacturing business and therefore require a manufacturing standard operating procedure template. Whatever type of business you operate, finding a SOP manual specific for your business is likely to be quite expensive if it is any good, or just not suitable for your specific organization.
This means you need to create your own from scratch and we all know how much effort that takes. It is a huge task. An alternative is to find a good quality generic template and customize it to suit your business.
Free or not so Free?
Difficult to Find Free Relevant Information
Finding a Free Standard Operating Procedure Template that is suitable for your business is going to be even harder. All we can suggest is to find a generic manual and tailor it to suit your business.
A lot of the free templates online are simple and basic and would need a significant amount of work to make them suitable for your business. Sometimes it could be easier to just start from scratch.
Heavy Customization Required
Remember, these types of templates and documents take a long time to develop. If you purchase a template, you want to be sure it is actually going to be useful for your organization. Either way you are likely to have to customize it to suit your specific team and processes.
However, consider Digital Documents Direct free download or consider our paid option (Standard Operating Procedure Manual Template) that has a lot more detail.
These templates will allow you to get started at least.
System Manuals can require a lot of work
Comprehensive and Complex
Generally, system manuals are very comprehensive. Typically a Standard Operating Procedure Manual is a very detailed document. It is unlikely you are going to find the exact type of document for your business if you are looking for a free standard operating procedure template.
However, you can use a template and save a considerable amount of time. There are particular tasks that are similar for most businesses regardless of their type and location.
These things you can replicate easily and save a lot of time and then leave the detailed customization to build as your business grows. We provide a free SOP manual template as a sample to our detailed version which you can check out. It is a basic version but you will be able to use it as a foundation for creating your own manual.
Of course, don’t hesitate to consider purchasing our detailed version if you want to save a ton of time building yours. It really will save you a considerable amount of effort.
What is Available Online?
Free Standard Operating Procedure Template Online Examples
Let’s take a look online to see what we can find and see if there are any useful options available.
A simple search for a free standard operating procedure template in Google brings up a range of results. At time of writing, this post, there were 335 Million results in Google. What a massive amount of information!
Obviously there is going to be a lot of irrelevant information. A number of the top spots are dictated by some of the well know template websites. Let’s take a closer look at those and see if we can find a suitable option for finding a free SOP template. But before we do, let’s take a look quickly at the definition of a SOPMT. (Standard Operating Procedure Manual Template).
What is a Standard Operating Procedure?
Positive Influence on Your Business
So firstly, what is a Standard Operating Procedure? It is a document that assist you in operating your business. It could be very large don’t you think and include many SOP’s.
I know ours is massive. It keeps getting bigger everyday. However, it is detailed and explains a lot of tasks for complex processes in our business.
If it was basic and simple, it would likely not meet the requirements of delivering our service to a high standard. We believe it should be detailed enough for our team to deliver their work to a high standard.
What types of Businesses Use Standard Operating Procedures?
Systems Bring Success
All successful organizations have systems and procedures. A lot of the most successful organizations have very strict procedures and deliver their products and services in accordance with these systems each and every time.
If you have been an employee in a large corporation, you may have had exposure to this. Delivering a product or service to a set quality every time is crucial to the performance of the business.
So where can we find standard operating procedure template suitable for our own business? Let’s check out what is online and see where that takes us.
Organic Search Results
Good Quality Online Options
OK, back to what we can find online. There are some good quality options available and some require a lot of customization and others will require less. It will be difficult to find something specific to your business particularly for free.
Option 1 – Digital Documents Direct
Our free standard operating procedure manual template is a snapshot of what our paid version includes. This template is only a basic version, however you may find it useful for your small business. You can read about our free sample on our sales page. Click the image below to learn more.
Check out our paid version if you require something much more detailed. It is full of standard operating procedures and includes all the detail which you can easily customize to suit your organization.
Option 2 – Smartsheet
The first website that pops up is Smart Sheet. This website has a lot of templates, however let’s look a bit closer at the detail.
This page above at smartsheet has quite a few templates to choose from and they are broken down into different industries. The templates look to be customized and suited to the task. There are a number to choose from including a Help Desk, Hotel Guest Luggage Handling, Laboratory and Warehouse Standard Operating Procedure Templates.
So if your business is any of these then you are likely to find something of value there. However, note that there isn’t a ton of specific detail in each template. You will have to put some effort in to make it suitable for your particular situation.
Also note – smartsheet is not completely free, although you can try their service for free and then pay if you want to continue.
Click the image above or go to their homepage here: SmartSheet
Option 3 – Word Templates Online
OK, the next one is Word Templates Online. This website has a lot of templates that might be suitable for your organization. There are also plenty of links to check out.
If you scroll down a bit there is a definition of a Standard Operating Procedure and also instructions on How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure which is great.
Click the image above or go to their homepage here: Word Templates Online
Option 4 – Process Street
Taking a look at the next option it is Process St. This website shows a lot of detail about how to create SOP’s. There is a ton of information and also some good videos that are going to go a long way in helping you create your Standard Operating Procedures.
Process Street also have a list of customized templates for particular industries, so this is also worth checking out. There are numerous free templates available if you hunt through the text, although they are fairly generic.
Process Street is not free, however there are plenty of free resources on their site with regard to Standard Operating Procedure Templates that are worth checking out. You should be able to find some free generic templates.
Click the image above or go to their homepage here: Process Street
Option 5 – Template.net
Template.net has a bunch of templates available for consideration.
There are a ton of SOP templates to consider. Some of them are blank and some of them are from other organizations. It might take sometime to wade through all the results, however you might be able to find something useful in there. All of these templates are free.
Different Types of Standard Operating Procedures
There are obviously many different types of SOP Manuals across many industries. For example, lets take a look at this example which below which explains the purpose of SOPs from aircraft manufacturers.
You can see that in this example, SOP are instruction tools used to communicate how to operate the aircraft or abide by regulations.
Standard Operating Checklists
Checklists Mean Quality
If you don’t have checklists in your business you need to get them ASAP. It might seem pretty obvious, however this simple tool makes a massive difference to your whole organization. It is really the only way to ensure quality through others which is the key to building your business.
Quality is built around checklists. It’s not really rocket science. If you want high standards for your business you need your quality control to have a benchmark.
A benchmark is your checklists.
Checklists should be simple, easy to follow and step by step. Combine a checklist with a procedure and your quality system is looking pretty good – don’t you think?
Checklist Template Free Download
We use a lot of checklists in our business. They have become very useful to ensure complex issues are not forgotten and quality is delivered.
Team members may not like using them at first, however once they get used to them, the difference is dramatic. All of a sudden things will get done correctly. So if you have a quality control issue in your business, then you should consider checklists immediately.
Check out a simple checklist below. All it does is list out the tasks required in order. You as the operator of the business should have an intimate knowledge of the process required or at least a detailed understanding though other team members so you can assist them in creating the right checklists that ensure perfect quality in your organization.
If you want to see what a checklist in Word format then we have created a link for you below to download it. It’s just a simple example of a checklist you could have for any task in your organization. However, feel free to use it as a base template if you need to.
What about Innovation?
SOP checklists are great for ensuring your core business is delivered each and every time to a certain standard. However, what about innovation, creativity and principles that may not necessarily have a tick box to complete?
It will depend on the type of business you have. So let’s firstly take a look at that and determine what your business is and what you are trying to achieve with it. It makes a difference on how you set your system up.
What type of business do you have?
A Simple Business
These types of businesses include small organizations such as a burger bar, coffee shop, takeaway or retail goods outlet. They are pretty simple. Get product from the wholesaler and sell it at a higher margin. There is not much complexity going on here.
This applies somewhat to a manufacturing business as well. Manufacturing may not be as simple, however portions of the manufacturing process can be relatively simple. You might require a manufacturing standard operating procedure template that you could use over and over again.
Your business might have a set product, set market and set deliverables. If you want an autonomous business, then this is what you should aim for. You then just need to keep on top of industry trends and the marketplace and ensure the demand doesn’t change – and if it does, then adapt.
A Complex Business
However, what if you have a business that is more complex? You are likely to need to innovate. Design, invent, create and deliver. A much more complex arrangement. How do you drive innovation through systems for these types of businesses?
Innovation can be a little more difficult to rollout throughout your organization. It comes back to culture, your team, their experience, their drive, their beliefs and how much risk they take. Also, management and leadership from the top influences everything.
If you cannot setup a system that drives innovation, then your business will stay where it is.
Build Your System Around Your Business Type
The question is – what type of business do you have and what type of business do you want?
A business that just produces income for you without you being involved or a complex business that you are fully immersed in, to change the world?
They are 2 different types and should be setup differently. A business that just produces income autonomously is likely to be a more simple business that has a core deliverable and focuses on this only.
A complex business will have challenges with innovation and creativity and therefore is likely to be the type of business where the operator or owner is fully immersed in the business. Thrilling stuff.
Sections of a Comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure Manual
Reduce Overwhelming Complexity
Business can be a complex beast. Even simple business can be overwhelming. Get online and you will be swamped with the massive amount of information on how to operate or structure your business. A lot of it is fluff.
Let’s get real though. Basically – you have a product or service and you sell it at a higher price than it takes to produce to make a profit. That’s it really.
However, what a 5 pillars of a business that should be at least the minimum sections of your standard operating procedure manual template? Let’s investigate those a bit further.
6 Pillars or Sections for Your Standard Operating Procedure Manual or Operations Manual
Product or Service
They are 6 solid pillars you can operate your business around. Get those sections into your Standard Operating Procedure Manual and you are well on your way to creating a solid business.
Let’s take a look at these sections in detail.
Pillar 1 – The Organization and it’s Product or Service
You need to be clear about this one. What is your product or service? Is there demand for your product or service? This section of your SOPMT should be descriptive and outline all the products or services you sell.
It can also include all the general things such as company details and organization structure. Fun stuff!
There is probably not a great deal of procedures and checklists required for this section. It in more explanatory and informative for your team.
Pillar 2 – Administration
A major component of any business, this part of your business assists operations to help the organization operate smoothly.
Checklists and procedures required for this section.
Pillar 3 – Operations
This one can be complex. How to deliver your product or service and who is in charge of what. Get this large section of your SOPMT sorted and your business will be well on it’s way to delivering quality to your customers.
Checklists and procedures required for this section. Checklists for quality control and procedures for how to deliver.
Pillar 4 – Human Resources
People are a major part of most businesses and therefore need their own section. This section should be about how to manage the human side of your organization. Easier said than done.
Policies required for this section including expected behavior, entitlements and conflict resolution strategies.
Pillar 5 – Finance
Tax, profit, turnover, forecasting and all those great number games happen in this section. Don’t forget your professional advice from your accountant.
Checklists and procedures required for this section also. Have tax requirements been met? Profit and loss reporting and a range of other reporting to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions.
Pillar 6 – Marketing
Marketing is an all important section and includes sales, customer fulfillment, satisfaction and delivery of what we say we are going to do. Not always easy when those operations guys want to do it their way!
Finally, checklists about what needs to be done in terms of marketing, quality control and message control and procedures on how to deliver the marketing through all the relevant channels such as media, social media, website and other communication methods.
So there are 5 basic pillars to start your SOPMT off with. These pillars could be elaborated on further depending on your business.
Using MS Word to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Manual
A very simple way to create your SOP Manual is to use MS Word. You could also create your standard operating procedure manual with Google docs. Both ways are very fast and cost effective ways to get started. However, if you intend to create something substantial, you will need to consider it’s growth.
If you have just started your business then the cheapest way to create a manual is to get 5 MS Word templates and split them up into 5 sections of your business. You could start with something similar to the above. General, Operations, Marketing, Human Resources and Finance.
This will allow you to establish a decent manual reasonably quickly. Once you get your files set up you can add the relevant information and then go ahead and add all the SOP’s required for each section.
Team members may not need to use a section of the manual that is not relevant to them, so it makes sense to split it up in accordance with the correct department.
As your business grows you can add to each file and then go ahead and find a system that may allow you to grow even further as you move away from MS Word.
Watch this video: Standard Operating Procedure Template for Your Company (05 mins 50 sec)
Here is a very informative video from You Tube about creating your own Standard Operating Procedures.
What A Basic MS Word SOP Might Look Like
OK, so we all know MS Word is pretty simple and a good tool to create documents with. If you are on a budget, then it is a good way to create an SOP easily and best of all fast.
You can roll an SOP out to your team in minutes. You don’t have to worry about logons, memberships or whatever else that will slow you down. You can get the critical content into the MS Word doc and send it all in a matter of minutes.
This is the advantage of using something like MS Word to create your SOP’s. Flexible, easy to use, fast and communicates the content well enough. So check out the really simple example below. This is just created in MS Word and can be a standard template that you could use if your business is relatively simple and not too complex.
The Easiest Way to Create an SOP
Steps to Successful SOP’s
The fastest and easiest way to create an SOP is to document it step by step. Just do it in MS Word. You will be done in 5 minutes. Forget the fancy graphics and all the flow chart explanations. How are you get going to possibly keep updating those things for the whole of your business?
Procedures change all the time. They are constantly tweaked.
Maybe once you have your system outlined and documented you can start thinking about graphics. However, imagine trying to do this for the your whole business from day 1?
Just document the steps.
Surely this is the fastest and easiest way to start a SOP and get it out to your team to review, amend and implement don’t you think?
You might find it difficult to read or follow, unless it has graphics. Possibly it is.
However, getting the process right is the first priority, so focus on that. Getting the steps right is critical. Errors will effect customers and potentially the perception of your business. So it makes sense to get the steps correct first so the quality of output leaving your business is kept high.
So there are a few items to consider if you are looking for a free SOP manual template. Plenty of things to consider there and also don’t forget to check out Digital Documents Direct Standard Operating Procedure Manual Template if you need something more detailed.
If you have a small or medium business and are struggling or if you have just started your business we highly recommend you start on your Operating Procedure Manual now.
Put everything else aside for at least a day or two until you can get your system setup in heading in the right direction. This is a massive task however it will add a bucket load of value to your business.
Think about it This Way
Think about it this way. If you are wanting to sell your business in the future and you are not involved in the day to day operations, you potentially have a very valuable business.
However, if you are right in there everyday pulling all the strings and still operating the organization, it won’t be such an attractive buy for anyone, if at all.
This is all underpinned by your Operating Procedures. These things are not just there to make something look nice or gather dust on the shelf. They are there because they are the foundation of your organization and add significant value.
Get this right and you will either have a very good business that supports a lot of people and/or a very sell-able business.
Get started today!
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