SOP Example – What it Looks Like

If you own a small business, one of the things you are probably hoping for is certainty. Regular income from your customers or clients. Regular cash flow to pay those bills. Team members delivering their work consistently and regularly – day in and day out to the benchmarks you have set.

You must have SOP’s in your business if you want it to operate as smoothly as possible. Business is complex and so are people, so having guidelines for everything is a must.



SOP Example – How to Create Business Certainty

Standard Operating Procedures are the answer. They may not give you 100% certainty, however nothing really can when it comes to business. However, they will dramatically improve the performance of your business through providing guidelines and rules – strictly not to be broken!

If you are looking to build a Standard Operating Procedures you may be wondering what they typically look like or how others may do it. Standard Operating Procedures certainly make a difference to the performance of your business.

However, they do take some effort to put together and then the challenge is to ensure that people follow these procedures otherwise – there isn’t really much point.

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Really, there is no set rule to creating an SOP. (Standard Operating Procedure). There might be tons of information online about this, however think about it practically.

The purpose of an SOP is to communicate step by step how to complete something correctly.


Firstly, What is an SOP?

OK, I think we have established that SOP stands for ‘Standard Operating Procedure’. This is a great description below of what an SOP actually is.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOP’s aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_operating_procedure

Standard Operating Procedure Examples

SOP Example and What it Looks Like

So, really the main point of an SOP as indicated above seems to be that it is a step by step procedure. However, the important aspect of creating an SOP is how it is communicated through text, pictures or whatever way you choose to communicate it.

Let’s take a look at some examples so we can investigate this further.

SOP Example

Below is a very basic example of a SOP. This is just to demonstrate that there is nothing overly complicated about an operating procedure.

The simple example we will use below is:

SOP Example – How to Change a Flat Tyre on a Car

Steps to be followed.

1: Make sure the park brake is on

2: Open the boot

3: Get the spare wheel out

4: Get the jack and wrench out to loosen the wheel nuts

5: Position the jack in the correct spot

6: Loosen the wheel nuts

7: Jack up the car

8: Remove the wheel nuts and wheel

9: Install the spare wheel

10: Tighten the Wheel nuts

11: Lower the jack

12: Check the wheel nuts are tight

13: Put the jack and flat tire in the boor

14: Close the boot…

You can see from above that this SOP Example is very simple. However, it outlines exactly what is required to perform the task successfully.

It can become more complicated depending on the task. However, the simple example above identifies the process and outlines it step by step.

Make it too complicated and no one will read it or use it. The key is to keep it simple so people engage with it and actually use the process.


Read More Blog Posts About SOP’s


SOP Sample – Keep it Simple

The best thing you can do about creating SOP’s is to keep them simple and straight forward. If it is a complex task you are documenting, you will need to break it down into smaller tasks.

Something that is very complex can still be completed using standard operating procedures. The combination of training and using procedures allows people to deliver complex tasks correctly, accurately and efficiently.


Complicated Tasks Require a Lot of Work

If you are a complex business and delivering complex services or products, then obviously your SOP’s are going to be long and detailed.

They will be broken into tiny tasks which when combined a step by step procedure on how to complete the task. This combined with regular training achieves the goal set of delivering the complicated tasks or product.

Your business may even need to break a task across teams of people if it is a complex task. This becomes even more detailed as teams work together for a common goal and achieve an end result accurately.


Creating Complex Products with SOP’s

To build a complex product or deliver a complex service, the first thing you need to do systematically divide it into its individual pieces. This means looking at the products each piece separately or in the case of a service, each task separately.

This is known as modular design and development. Documenting the pieces and the process or assembly is a SOP or Standard Operating Procedure. Once you document each piece and how each piece fits together you have created procedures on how to construct a complex product.

Another SOP Example

Below is another SOP example. This one however has images as well as text. This enables people to understand the procedure quicker and use visual cues to understand the process required.

Obviously, if you are going to document all your procedures in this manner, it will take a significant amount of work. Check it out below.

SOP Example
SOP Example | Prepare a Meeting Room

OK, this is a fairly simple task to complete. If you had a much more complex task, then obviously you will have pages and pages of instruction.

Another Written SOP Sample

Let’s take a look at yet another SOP example without pictures. This is another standard operating procedure example for small business. Small and medium business doesn’t need to overdo this stuff. Just make it super clear and easy to read.

You can see this is a bit harder to grasp quickly. However the red text does highlight to the reader the important parts of the task.

Check it out below.

SOP Example
SOP Example | Site Visit Procedure

Lots of text makes the procedure harder to follow quickly. However, you may need lots of text in some situations.

The key is to communicate the required tasks effectively so the task gets completed accurately. There is no point in having the SOP if the task gets completed incorrectly each time.

Train your team to provide feedback to you on building your procedures so you can ensure your procedures are clear and usable. This makes people’s jobs and role easier and more effective.


How to Write an SOP

So how do you go about writing an SOP for your business? Review the step by step SOP example below on how you could easily write an SOP for your organization.

Firstly

Firstly, think about how you are going to use the SOP in your business.

Is it for people behind the computer or people on the factory floor or people working from home?

Secondly

Secondly, how will they read the procedure? Will they read it online or do they need access to a hard copy? Will they be able to use it on their phone? Think about the practicalities of how it is actually used.

No one is going to follow the procedure if it is not:

  • Clear
  • Easy to Follow
  • Understandable
  • Makes Sense
  • Logical
  • Using Simple Language
  • Memorable

There are many ways to ensure your team actually want to use the procedure. Forcing them is not the best way to make the SOP’s effective. Using common sense is.

Thirdly

Thirdly and most importantly. Ask your team for help. Get an understanding of how they complete their tasks and ask them what they think is the best way to document the SOP.

Involving your team in this tasks gives them ownership and allows them to contribute to the growth of the business. This is really important if you want your business to grow.

Remember you are developing a business that operates without you and achieving team ownership ads significantly value to your business, their lives and provides a meaningful job.

Let’s Not Make this More Complicated Than it Needs to Be

The world is becoming more complicated. Is it because there are too many complicated SOP’s?

SOP’s are not rocket science. There is tons of information online about SOP examples and how to write them and what you should and shouldn’t do.

But realistically – it should be kept simple.

Think about an IKEA furniture pack and the instructions that come with it. Terrible! However, they do work even if you have to think about what the picture is actually trying to get across.

The point is – SOP’s should be kept simple but not so simple they are annoying to follow.

Personally the Step 1, Step 2 process with a related image is the simplest and best way to create an SOP. Anyone that tells you otherwise, I think, is pulling your leg or trying to sell you something.

You can only build or create something 1 step at a time so it makes logical sense that complicated processes are broken down into smaller tasks.


Standard Operating Procedures Examples in an Office

Writing SOP’s for an office has to be one of the easiest SOP’s to complete. Office workers have it easy right? Office-workers typically have easy access to a desktop where as other roles such as a truck-driver or delivery driver wouldn’t be facing a desktop screen all day.

Therefore it is easier to roll out procedures to office-workers and get them to read them. Delivery drivers would have to take the time when they are not driving to read the procedures. This can be harder for them to absorb a lot of information at once.

If you would like to review some Standard Operating Procedures Examples for an office then check out our template where we include quite a few typical office procedures.


Example SOP for Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Client Communication

Below is a detailed example SOP for communicating with Clients. You can use this as a basis for creating SOP’s in your business.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Client Communication

Objective
To establish clear and effective communication channels with clients to ensure mutual understanding, satisfaction, and successful project outcomes.

Introduction
This SOP outlines the standard procedures for communicating with clients throughout the duration of a project.

Effective client communication is crucial for understanding project requirements, providing updates, addressing concerns, and ensuring client satisfaction.

Client Onboarding
Gather all necessary contact information including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and preferred communication methods.

Introduce the client to the designated point of contact or account manager who will handle their communications.

Provide the client with an overview of the communication process, including response times and escalation procedures for urgent matters.

Initial Meeting
Schedule an initial meeting with the client to discuss project goals, requirements, timelines, and expectations.

Actively listen to the client’s needs and preferences, asking clarifying questions when necessary.

Clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities of both parties to avoid misunderstandings later on.

Regular Updates
Establish a regular communication schedule with the client to provide updates on project progress.

Determine the frequency and format of updates based on the client’s preferences and the nature of the project.

Communicate any potential delays or challenges proactively, along with proposed solutions or mitigation strategies.

Documenting Communication
Maintain detailed records of all client communications, including meeting minutes, emails, and phone call summaries.

Use a centralized system or project management tool to track client interactions and ensure accountability.

Document any changes to project scope, requirements, or timelines discussed during client meetings or conversations.

Managing Expectations
Be transparent with the client about what they can expect from your team in terms of deliverables, timelines, and quality standards.

Set realistic expectations and avoid overpromising to prevent disappointment or dissatisfaction.

Clearly communicate any limitations or constraints that may impact the project outcome.

Handling Client Feedback
Encourage open and honest feedback from the client throughout the project lifecycle.
Listen attentively to any concerns or suggestions raised by the client and respond promptly.

Take constructive criticism in stride and use it as an opportunity for improvement.

Resolution of Issues
Address any issues or conflicts with the client in a timely and professional manner
Acknowledge the client’s concerns and work collaboratively to find mutually acceptable solutions.

Escalate unresolved issues to higher management or relevant stakeholders as needed.

Closing Communication
Upon project completion, schedule a final meeting with the client to review deliverables and ensure their satisfaction.

Express appreciation for the client’s partnership and provide information on ongoing support or maintenance services.

Obtain feedback from the client on their experience working with your team to inform future improvements.

Continuous Improvement
Conduct regular reviews of client communication processes to identify areas for improvement.

Solicit feedback from both clients and internal team members to gain different perspectives.

Implement changes and updates to the communication SOP as necessary to enhance client satisfaction and project outcomes.

Compliance and Quality Assurance
Ensure compliance with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements related to client communication.

Maintain confidentiality and privacy of client information in accordance with data protection laws.

Conduct periodic audits to assess adherence to the communication SOP and identify any non-compliance issues.

Conclusion
Effective client communication is essential for building strong relationships, fostering trust, and achieving project success.

By following this SOP, we aim to standardize our communication processes and deliver exceptional service to our clients consistently.

Any deviations from this SOP should be documented and justified accordingly.

This SOP serves as a guideline for all team members involved in client communication and should be followed rigorously to ensure consistency and quality in our interactions with clients.
Example SOP for Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Client Communication

What are Your Thoughts around SOP examples?

Got any examples of other SOP Examples or any other comments? Feel free to add you SOP Examples. Leave them below.

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