If you need to create many Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s), then an SOP template is the way to go. Not only will it allow you to not have to reinvent the wheel each time you create an SOP, you will be able to create a significant amount of SOP’s quickly and easily.
It’s quite easy to create an SOP template. It is as easy as using Microsoft Word or any other word processing software to create an SOP template that you can use over and over again.
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SOP Template – Definition of an SOP Template
“A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output, and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.“
Standard operating procedure, accessed 28 August 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_operating_procedure.
So, fairly obviously, an SOP template is a document, format or process that you reuse again and again to create your SOP’s in your business. Something that you have stored in a safe place that you use over and over again to create your standard operating procedures for your business or organization.
Depending on the complexity of your business this type of template could be as simple as a one page word processing file which is replicated again and again or it could be a software system that you have created or purchase to produce your SOP commonly known as standard operating procedures.
What are the 7 Parts of an SOP?
Generally, there are around seven parts of a typical Standard Operating Procedure. This can vary widely, however if you are creating an SOP Template for repetitive use, then creating a base file outlining the following seven parts below would be satisfactory.
|Table of Contents
|Procedures, steps or detail of process
|Quality Assurance or Quality Control
|Terminology, Glossary and Definitions
Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.
- The title page should clearly identify the SOP. Due to the large amount of SOP’s in a manual, the title is important for easy locating and identification.
Table of Contents
- The table of contents should clearly identify the parts of the SOP for easy reference. An automated TOC is even more useful such as the system used by MS Word.
- The purpose section of an SOP succinctly describes the objective or goal the procedure aims to achieve, providing a clear understanding of its intended outcome.
Procedures, steps or detail of process
- The procedures, steps, or details of the process in an SOP provide a systematic, step-by-step guide outlining the specific actions and methods to be followed when performing a particular task or activity.
Quality Assurance or Quality Control
- The quality component of the SOP is a monitoring tool to ensure the quality is maintained at all times.
Terminology, Glossary and Definitions
- This section of an SOP clarifies and defines specific terms and jargon used within the document, ensuring a common understanding of language and terminology among readers and users.
- The references section of an SOP provides citations or sources of information used in creating the procedure, ensuring transparency, credibility, and traceability of the documented processes.
If your SOP template uses these components above as a minimum, you are well on your way to communicating the correct processes to your team easily and efficiently.
Pros and Cons of Using an SOP Template
Creating SOP’s using SOP templates takes a huge amount of work. For a complex business, this is going to take you and your team a significant amount of time, effort and resources to make it work for your business.
That being said – there are many benefits and also a few drawbacks. Take a look at the list below before you set sail on your SOP creation in your organization to determine if it is worth the effort.
Pros of Using an SOP Template
- SOP templates offer consistency and uniformity in the documentation of processes across an organisation. For procedures to be appropriately understood and followed, there must be consistency.
- Compared to writing SOPs from scratch, templates offer a ready-made structure. For recurring or shared processes that several departments employ, this is extremely helpful.
- Templates frequently include standardised terminology and layout, which makes SOPs simpler to read and comprehend. Clear instructions lessen the possibility of misunderstanding.
- SOP templates can be made to conform to industry standards, rules, and best practises, making sure that processes follow all applicable laws and regulations.
- Templates might offer instructions and advice to help individuals just starting to draught SOPs. This can be especially useful for staff members who lack writing experience for technical or procedural documents.
- It is simpler to update a template and distribute the updates across all pertinent SOPs when a standard procedure changes, ensuring that everyone is using the most recent version.
Cons of Using an SOP Template
- Not every distinct organisational procedure or workflow may be supported by templates. A template might not be able to provide the flexibility that some processes demand.
Lack of understanding
- Lack of understanding: SOPs can be erroneous or incomplete if templates are used without knowing the underlying procedures. Employees could fill in the spaces without knowing why each action was taken.
- Over-Reliance: Relying only on templates could put off people from considering processes critically. Employees could adhere to procedures mechanically without considering their efficacy or looking for ways to make them better.
- Complexity: Particularly for smaller operations, certain templates can be too complex. Instead of helping employees grasp the procedures, this intricacy may confuse them.
- Templates frequently have a generic nature to meet a variety of circumstances. In some circumstances, a general template might not sufficiently handle the unique idiosyncrasies of a given procedure or department.
Lack of Ownership
- Lack of Ownership: If employees are only filling in the spaces on a template, they may not feel personally invested in SOPs. Less detailed documentation may result from a lack of personal engagement.
SOP templates, in conclusion, can be quite helpful for standardising processes, guaranteeing compliance, and saving time. Striking a balance between encouraging staff members to comprehend the processes they are recording and allowing for flexibility when necessary is crucial.
Creating an SOP with an SOP Template
What is the Easiest Way to Create an SOP Template?
Microsoft Word has to be the easiest way to create a template that you can use over and over again. Microsoft Word gives you the ability to create standard templates and save them off in the cloud or wherever you would like on your system.
This gives you the ability to replicate your SOP’s and also easily delegate parts of the SOP task making process to others quite easily. The ability to use software such as MS Word or Google Docs allows the production of SOP’s efficient and to co-ordinate and collaborate with others makes it very efficient and easy-to-use.
SOPs speed up Productivity
SOPs speed up the process of new hires becoming productive
The best thing about SOP’s is that they allow newcomers to your business to get an understanding of any rules, procedures or requirements for any particular task.
This will certainly speed up productivity in your organization and also communicate effectively to new team members as they get used to their new position in your business.
An Excellent Training Tool
Use SOPs as an excellent training tool for both existing and new team members. They can be used to ensure compliance with workplace safety and ensure operations and tasks are being completed in accordance with current laws or legislation.
Can you really afford to not have a Standard Operating Procedure Manual in Your Business?
How Standard Operating Procedures will Improve Your Business
A group of SOP’s is known as an Standard Operating Procedure Manual. This type of manual holds all of your SOP’s in one secure place. This could be a software program or a simple MS Word document.
If you need to improve the performance of your business quickly and cost effectively, you need a Standard Operating Procedure Manual.
Review an example of an SOP Template using MS Word below.
Operating a Small Business is Not Easy
If you operate a small business then you will realize that systematizing your business is really the only answer to producing your product or service consistently and to a high standard each and every time. If you don’t do this then there is a risk of losing customers because people want to get the same product or service each time they experience your business.
If you haven’t read the E-Myth then it is certainly worth reading as it will give you an insight on how to operate a small business better so that the business is efficient and deliver it’s product or service to a high standard each time it delivers.
This particular book by Micheal Gerber is a great source of information for your small business. It will help to get all your ducks in a row and deliver your product or service more accurately and efficiently to a set standards.
Think about any time you go to purchase something. You really on return to purchase the product or service if you enjoyed the buying experience. Therefore your team need to understand what to do each time they work with your customers.
The best way to train them around this is to use Standard Operating Procedures to ensure the process is followed each time.
Learn more about the benefits of having standard operating procedures in your business.
3 Ways to Save Time using SOP Templates
Speed and accuracy make your business competitive. Below are 3 ways to improve the production of your products or services.
1. Efficient Documentation
SOP templates provide a structured format, guiding users to input essential information without starting from scratch. This streamlines the documentation process, saving time by eliminating the need to design the layout and format for each procedure individually.
2. Clear Guidelines
Templates offer predefined sections, prompts, and examples, ensuring that employees know exactly what information to include. This clarity reduces the time spent on decision-making and content planning, allowing individuals to focus on the content’s accuracy and relevance.
3. Consistent Processes
SOP templates enforce consistency across different procedures within an organization. By maintaining a standardized format, employees can quickly grasp the content, reducing the time needed for training and comprehension. Consistency also aids in faster revisions and updates, as employees are familiar with the template structure, ensuring swift modifications when necessary.
SOP Flow Charts in an SOP Template
No doubt you have already seen those flow charts that visually identify a process. These diagrams for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) show how a process or a sequence of actions is carried out inside an organisation.
The steps in a process are represented by standardised symbols, making it simpler to comprehend, evaluate, and enhance workflows. These flow charts offer a pictorial representation of a certain task’s or process’s decision points, actions, and results.
These things are so time consuming to create. However, they can be very good as a graphical representation of a task or process.
SOP flow chart templates have key components. Process stages are represented by rectangles, signifying specific actions; decision points are represented by diamonds, representing conditional routes; and arrows connect these symbols.
|Circle or Oval
|Identifies the beginning or end of the SOP
|Process stages are represented by rectangles – signifying specific actions
|Decision points are represented by diamonds – representing conditional routes
|Connects different parts of the SOP
|Shows the direction and sequence of the flow
Advantages of Symbols
Symbols make an SOP flowchart simple and easy to understand.
These simplified visual representations of intricate processes facilitate their comprehension and analysis for increased workflow effectiveness.
Extended Symbols and Specialized Symbols
In addition to the above, there are also extended and specialized symbols. These are used in specific industries where more complex processes are required.
|The expanded symbols are extra symbols that can be added to SOP flowcharts to improve their precision, clarity, and specificity.
|SOP flowchart applications, industries, or domains may all have its own specialised symbols.
The best thing you can do is reduce the complexity and keep it simple with accountability built in. This maintains efficiency while ensuring accuracy.
What is the Easiest Software to use to create an SOP Template?
Keep it simple for easy updates
The easiest programme for you to use will depend on your preferences and needs. There are many options for creating Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) templates.
Below are 6 simple choices frequently utilised to create SOP templates.
Option 1 – Microsoft Word
- Popular word processing programme Microsoft Word has a user-friendly interface and a variety of templates. You can use text, photos, tables, and other components to construct intricate SOP documents. There are pre-made templates available, or you can make your own from scratch.
Option 2 – Google Docs
- A cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Word is Google Docs. It is available for free, has tools for collaborative editing, and offers a selection of templates via the Google Docs Template Gallery. It is simple to use and available on any internet-connected device.
Option 3 – Lucidchart
- It is possible to construct flowcharts, process maps, and other visual representations of SOPs using the cloud-based diagramming tool Lucidchart. It has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it simple to make SOP templates that look good. Microsoft Office and Google Workspace are also integrated.
Option 4 – Trello
- Trello is an easy-to-use project management solution that arranges tasks and procedures using cards and boards. Setting up Trello boards with precise instructions on each card will allow you to construct SOP templates. Trello is especially helpful for teams who prefer a more participatory style of working and visual learners.
Option 5 – Process Street
- Process Street was created with the creation and management of SOPs and workflows in mind. It offers pre-made templates and an intuitive user interface for creating unique SOPs. It also has features like form fields, task delegation, and conditional logic, which makes it a strong option for companies with intricate operations.
Option 6 – SweetProcess
- Another programme made specifically for SOP creation is SweetProcess. With a step-by-step editor, it is intended to make the process of documenting procedures simpler. Your SOPs can include text, pictures, and videos. You can also assign assignments and monitor progress.
The software you choose ultimately depends on your unique requirements, financial constraints, and personal preferences. The most popular and beginner-friendly options tend to be Microsoft Word and Google Docs, while specialised programmes like Process Street and SweetProcess offer more sophisticated functionality for companies with stringent SOP standards.
Standard Operating Procedure Format – What Suits?
Standard Operating Procedures could be produced in a number of ways and have numerous formats. For example, if you use MS Word, you could simply make a simple Word document that you use over and over again. Review the basic example below.
Standard SOP Template Example
In addition to this, you could create a more detailed document with a Table of Contents and several pages long. Or even further to this, your software could have it’s own format to communicate the correct information.
Whatever the way you choose, it is important that there is consistency and accuracy in your SOP Manual.
Another Simple Example – SOP or Just a Checklist?
Are SOP’s just checklists? The term SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is used widely across the internet. There are different components of a SOP, however there is no point in getting carried away with complex and detailed written SOP’s for your business if it is not needed.
Just use simple checklists and make a real difference to the performance and efficiency of your business instead.
Standard Procedure Example – Replace a Wheel
|Standard Operating Procedure
|Replacing a Wheel
|To ensure the safe and efficient replacement of a damaged or flat tire on a vehicle, minimizing the risk of injury and damage to the vehicle.
|Equipment and Tools Required
Vehicle owner’s manual
Flashlight (if replacing the wheel in low light conditions)
|Park the vehicle on a flat, stable surface, away from moving traffic.
Engage the parking brake to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers.
|Park the vehicle on a flat, stable surface, away from moving traffic.
Engage the parking brake to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers.
|Prepare the Vehicle
|Consult the vehicle owner’s manual to locate the spare tire, jack points, and proper jacking procedure.
Place wheel chocks behind the wheels opposite to the one being replaced to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
|Loosen the Lug Nuts
|Use the lug wrench to slightly loosen the lug nuts on the damaged wheel, but do not remove them completely. This is easier when the vehicle is still on the ground.
|Lift the Vehicle
|Position the jack under the recommended jacking point as specified in the owner’s manual.
Pump the jack handle to lift the vehicle until the damaged wheel is completely off the ground. Ensure the vehicle is stable before proceeding.
|Remove the Damaged Wheel
|Use the lug wrench to fully remove the loosened lug nuts.
Carefully take off the damaged wheel and place it aside.
|Install the Spare Tire
|Lift the spare tire onto the wheel bolts and align the rim with the lug nut holes.
Hand-tighten the lug nuts onto the wheel bolts to secure the spare tire in place.
|Lower the Vehicle
|Carefully lower the vehicle using the jack. Ensure that the vehicle is resting securely on the ground.
|Tighten the Lug Nuts
|Use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts in a crisscross pattern to ensure even pressure. Refer to the vehicle manual for the specific torque requirements for the lug nuts.
|After tightening the lug nuts, double-check to ensure all nuts are secure.
|Stow the Equipment
|Place the damaged wheel, jack, lug wrench, and other tools back in the vehicle.
Remove the wheel chocks.
|Take a short test drive at a low speed to ensure the spare tire is secure and the vehicle is operating properly.
|If you are unsure about any step or encounter difficulties, consult a professional mechanic or contact roadside assistance.
Regularly check the spare tire’s pressure to ensure it is ready for use in emergencies.
|This Standard Operating Procedure has been reviewed and approved by [Name/Position] on [Date].
|Version 1.0 – [Date]
SOP Templates Bring Efficiency and Time Saving
Time Saving SOP Creation to your Business
Businesses can gain a lot from using a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) template.
Firstly, it avoids the need to start from scratch by giving a pre-structured framework, saving significant time and resources. Due to the time savings, organisations may concentrate on modifying the material to meet their own needs and ensuring that the procedures are suited to their particular operations.
Secondly, SOP templates encourage uniformity throughout the entire organisation. Employees can readily understand and follow procedures when they follow a standardised structure, which promotes regularity in operations and reduces errors.
What About a Free SOP Template?
Where can you Source a Free SOP Template?
You can discover free SOP templates that are suited to various businesses and purposes from a number of trustworthy sources.
Microsoft Office Templates has a number of SOP options available. Educational Institutions and Professional Organisations are also good places to source these types of templates.
If you need to improve quality control in your business, then SOP’s and an SOP Manual will certainly assist you to do this. By providing dependable, consistent, and high-quality offers, quality control increases consumer satisfaction by ensuring that goods and services match predetermined requirements.
Additionally, it lessens flaws, increases effectiveness, and promotes a positive brand reputation, all of which encourage client loyalty and trust.
Utilising tools such as checklists make a huge difference to the quality of product or service delivered.
Download a Free SOP Template Here
So if you are in search of a free SOP Template, you can download an example here. This is a basic free SOP template that you could possibly use if it suits your business.
What are the Parts of an SOP Template?
7 Parts of an SOP – Standard of Procedure Template
The following are seven typical parts of an SOP. Creating these over and over again using a template will provide consistency for your business.
- Title and Introduction
- Procedure Steps
- Revision History
Certain parts of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) can be relatively easy to create, especially if you have a clear understanding of the process or task you are documenting.
More Benefits and Rewards to Your Business from SOP’s
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) streamline processes, ensuring consistency and efficiency. By providing clear guidelines and fostering a culture of adherence, SOPs enhance productivity, minimize errors, and ultimately contribute to a more organized and effective business operation.
|How SOP’s Will Change Your Business
|Makes processes more efficient which prevents wasted effort and time.
|A consistent product or service meets customer expectations. Happy customers return for more.
|Identifies any applicable regulations that may need to be addressed.
|Avoids non-compliance with authorities
|Productivity is increased due to less errors and rework.
|More profit, better salaries, better benefits for team members
|Improves Team Moral and Culture
|Improved teamwork through adherence of business goals and objectives
|Better team culture and happier team. Overall better team performance
Standard Operating Procedures are step-by-step Instructions
These instructions inform people how to perform tasks or duties. Therefore, you can expect an improvement in quality and performance almost instantly.
People need guideposts. Guidelines to direct them in the right direction and deliver their skills to your clients and customers to an agreed benchmark.
The aim is to meet quality, performance and uniformity while reducing errors. In addition, they are useful to meet regulations and standards in any particular industry.
A simple representation of this process is below.
A Standard Operating Procedure is part of quality control. There are many terms around quality control in any business.
Quality manual, operating procedures, ISO 9001, ISO 9000 family, quality management, employee handbook, policy manual and policies. The list goes on and on and this area of business is huge.
A Standard Operating Procedure Template is a template you use again and again to create your SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).
The Advantages of Using a Template
Primarily a Huge Time Saver
When developing your Standard Operating Procedure Manual, a template will save you a lot of time. These instructions are often extensive and can take a long time to develop. Using a template will not only save you time, but it will also provide you with a framework to get started and will most likely save you a lot of money in the long run.
4 Approaches to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Template
Below is a simple table that outlines 4 easy approaches you could take to create a Standard Operating Procedure Template and use these templates to create SOP’s for your organization.
|Ease to Create
|Ease of Use
|Time to Create
|Ability to Update
|MS Word Template
|MS Sharepoint Template
You could really use any software based platform to create your Standard Operating Procedures. However you will need skills in operating the platform system or the ability to hire someone to do it for you.
Skills Needed to Create SOP’s from a Standard Operating Procedure Template
Here are some skills that you need to create SOP’s from a Standard Operating Procedure Template.
- The ability to be analytical for determining correct processes
- Detailed understanding of the platform you are using such as WordPress or MS Word.
- Ability to communicate to employees and colleagues effectively to determine the correct process and document this
- A broad knowledge of the organization with the ability to see the larger picture for all areas of the business
- Excellent written skills to communicate in written form accurately
- The ability to utilize tools to produce graphical representations of processes where necessary.
The above are just some of the skills you should focus on to produce quality SOP’s for your organization.
SOP’s a Must to Ensure High Quality Output
Simply, if you want to stay in business you need to deliver your products to a high standard. The only way you can do this is by ensuring every time you deliver your product or service it meets high quality control standards. In other words, your products or services need to meet standards you have set in your business.
Above all, the goal of SOP’s in your business is to maintain quality. Further to this, to also maintain it in a repetitive manner. That means each and every time you deliver it.
Refer to the simple image of the repetition process below.
Well yes, it can be difficult. However, it would depend on your type of business. If you have a complex business, you can break everything down into the tiniest tasks and quality manage each task. This is the only way to do it. After that, you would then be heading in the right direction.
Couple this with the right team who are knowledgeable, qualified and appropriate for your business, is going to help you meet those quality goals.
Further definition of an SOP – (Standard Operating Procedure)
As a business grows, the owner cannot be in one place for everything. SOP’s allow business to grow. They do this by ensuring quality is maintained at all times by management and team members.
“Standard operating procedures (SOP’s) are processes. They are documented and ensure services and/or products are delivered the same every single time.”
Step by Step
Typically, SOP’s or Standard Operating Procedures are step by step instructions. They are very detailed and include tiny steps to ensure that nothing is missed in the manufacturing or delivery process.
It is all about controlling quality as your business grows.
How do SOP’s apply to all of a company?
SOP‘s can be in all areas of a company. For instance, it is not just the manufacturing process or service delivery process that have SOP’s within it. It is also the marketing department, the finance department, the delivery department and any other department.
Lots of relevant information
In other words – that’s a lot of work! More importantly, it needs to be relevant information. Procedures that people will actually use. Otherwise people are at risk.
SOP’s can also apply to safety aspects of personnel tasks. For example, safety SOP’s are instructions on how to keep people safe on a work site.
Clearly you can see that SOP’s can be an extremely important part of a company and allow a company to run smoothly and efficiently.
SOP’s are Needed Because…
As mentioned above, SOP’s allow a business to operate efficiently and safely. They provide an excellent resource for personnel to refer to in their daily work.
Imagine no SOP’s in a large company and trying to deliver a product that is complicated to manufacture? Potentially it would be CHAOS!
Each employee would be completing their tasks on how they thought was best – not as a team and not to any particular quality control.
SOP’s are critical to deliver anything in a business accurately, efficiently, and to any particular quality.
How Important are SOP’s?
Important or Just a Waste of Time?
Consider the situation below.
Just from the image and text above you can see how important SOP’s are in any business. You might want Standard Operating Procedures when you need them most. They may not seem important or relevant at all times, however when things get hard or difficult, this is when they are most effective.
SOP’s are very important to how your business operates. If you work in an industry where safety is paramount, they become even more important.https://www.digitaldocumentsdirect.com/
So what does an SOP look Like?
Let’s take a look at a real world example of a Standard Operating Procedure from a typical business.
Boeing Aircraft Start Up Example
For example, check out this procedure below which relates to a Boeing Aircraft start up.
SOP‘s are usually simple to read, are process or task based and consist of a number of steps within the procedures.
There are 3 columns and laid out in a simple to read manner. There is 1 column for Procedure, 1 column for Action and 1 column for Notes.
Also note the instructions in brackets at the top under the headings. These instructions require action in addition to just reading the procedure. This procedure has no step by step direction indicated in a graphic which is beneficial, and it is assumed that the checklist is followed by moving down the list.
It is pretty simple really. The hard part is the quantity of documentation required, and the effort required to put processes in place. Typically, there is usually a lot required.
Let’s take a look at another one
OK, so let’s have a look at another real world procedure. This one is a little bit different.
So you can see from above, this one is simply a list of what to do. It is simple enough. Possibly presented slightly better and include headings in step format such as, step 1, 2, 3 etc. This would likely make it easier to read without too much more effort of creating the procedure.
It shows when the procedure was last revised. I’m not sure why this is important. Does it really matter when the procedure was last revised? I would think the more important thing is if the procedure is correct, accurate and still relevant.
Anyway, you can see the procedure is simple, easy to read and shows each step in the process for completing the task and also refers to the managers responsibility with regard to the task.
Let’s take a look at a third one
This example below is definitely different. I am not sure I would like to be following the procedures in this organization. Take a look below.
You can see it is pretty simple but also graphically doesn’t really have much going for it. There are no steps and it looks like a list of items.
This was also in a document with hundreds of pages. Imagine trying to wade through all this?
If you are creating a SOP, it should be easy to read, easy to use and relevant. This means laid out well. Step by step instructions make a massive difference. Include graphics to make the instructions more meaningful.
How will you create Your Standard Operating Procedures?
If you need to produce a Standard Operating Procedure Manual, Quality Manual, Policy and Procedure Manual or Employee Handbook you are in for a lot of work.
Note – all of these things are usually the same thing. They just have different names.
It is a great idea to find a sop template that suits your business instead of starting one from scratch. Digital Documents Direct have a number of options available. Refer to our Standard Operating Procedure Template.
Change Your Business with Standard Operating Procedures
If you are searching for a Standard Operating Procedure Template, it might be quite an onerous task to find a suitable one. Commonly know as an sop template, this type of template will save you a significant amount of time and effort.
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 sop template and customize it to suit your business.
Standard Operating Procedures make a dramatic difference to the performance of your business, company, organization or club. SOP’s as they are commonly know are instruction manuals for team members that are learning or even experienced team members that need reminding of how to perform tasks accurately.
Step by Step Tasks – Is this the Best Format?
A simple process to follow
You definitely want people to be using these step by step tasks. For example, think of a pilot landing a plane and you are sitting in the back. You would be hoping the pilot is following the step by step standard operating procedure to get that rubber onto the tarmac without bending anything?
You can imagine it is a list of items that need to be included in making sure the landing gear is down prior to touchdown.
Check out a simple step by step procedure below. This is a really simple one created in MS Word. You can create these in a matter of minutes if you use our templates.
Positive Influence on Your Business
You could have hundreds or even thousands of Standard Operating Procedures in your business. It is a document that assist you in operating your business and therefore needs to have all relevant information within it.
If it is basic and simple, it would likely not meet the requirements of delivering service to a high standard. We believe it should be detailed enough for your team to deliver their work to a high standard.
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.
5 Reasons SOP’s are Great for Your Organization
These types of documents really do make a difference.
System Manuals can require a lot of work
Heavy Customization Required
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 or at least create a great foundation to get you started. Either way you are likely to have to customize it to suit your specific team and processes.
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.
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.
What is Available Online?
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 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 SOP template.
Organic Search Results
Good Quality Online Options
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.
Option 1 – Digital Documents Direct
Check out our 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. Click the button to read more.
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 Standard Operating Procedure 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.
Benchmarks are your checklists.
Create a checklist standard operating procedure template to use again and again.
Checklists should be simple, easy to follow and step by step. Combine a checklist with a procedure and your quality system is off to a good start.
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
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 6 basic pillars to start your SOPMT off with. These pillars could be elaborated on further depending on your business.
Business Management System Template
Click to enlarge.
Functional Areas of Business
Using MS Word to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Template
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.
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 Standard Operating Procedure Template easily and best of all fast.
You can roll an SOP out to your team in minutes once you create a Standard Operating Procedure Template. 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.
Don’t Have Time for all the Images?
OK, maybe you simply don’t have time to add all the images. It is a lot of work!
If you are short on time, just use a step by step template. It is really fast to set up and you can be finished in a matter of minutes.
You could also give it to your team and ask them to fill in the blanks or ask for their opinion about what the correct steps are.
Check out this one below. A simple step by step procedure task list in MS Word is going to make a big difference for sure. No more repeating yourself. OK, you might still have to repeat yourself but maybe not 100 times a day.
Click the image if you want to read more about Digital Documents Direct’s Standard Operating Procedure Manual Template.
Creating Your Standard Operating Procedure
So, the easiest way to create a Standard Operating Procedure is to use MS Word. Simple to do and easy to set up and virtually free. No doubt if your business becomes complex then you will need something better to grasp all that information. Otherwise you will be wading in documents.
Really it isn’t anything more than a checklist is it? Start here and finish there and make sure you do all steps in between. (Landing gear is important).
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.
- Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
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.
Standard Operating Procedures a Waste of Time?
Do you have SOP’s or Standard Operating Procedures and no one in your team use them? Do they even know where they are?
- If you operate a small business, you the business owner needs to get behind the SOP’s and embrace them. Sound like fun?
- A great way to do this is get your team to create them with you. Have a small session and brainstorm the best way to create instructions and step by step procedures.
- Then get your team to help you add the detail in quiet times or moments where you are not working flat out. This will make a big difference.
- A massive benefit is that if one of your team members leaves, they won’t take everything in their head with them because you will have documented it right?
Let’s face it. People will come and go, and what you must have as business operator is a place that shows others how to complete their role. A system manual.
So there are a few items to consider if you are looking for a Standard Operating Procedure Template.
If you have a small or medium business and are struggling or if you have just started your business, it is highly recommend you create some sort of procedure manual, employee handbook or quality manual using templates.
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 lot of value to your business and also help you create a business that is easier to operate.
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.
Standard Operating Procedures are an extremely important part of business. Using a Standard Operating Procedure Template will save you time, money and effort and also standardize your process manuals.
Important for small business
If you run a small or medium scale business and don’t have any you should get them immediately. In other words, they are going to help your business run much more smoothly. It is also likely to reduce your stress level.
Create procedures carefully
Creating procedures should be carefully considered. Just whacking a list of things on a sheet is likely to not do the job well enough. You need to think about it a bit more and lay them out in a manner that makes them easy to read and use.
They need to be relevant
Remember, they need to be relevant. Irrelevant procedures will simply not get used. People will ignore them and do their own thing, so it is important they are accurate and relevant.
Let your team create them
You can create your procedures with your team. In fact, they are likely to have a very good understanding of the process. However, you will need to check the procedures and ensure they are suitable, accurate and relevant.
Share Your Thoughts
In your experience, what is the best way to create a standard operating procedure and ensure it is useful to your business?
- Have you created a systems manual for your business?
- Do you use Standard Operating Procedures in your business?
- What is the easiest way you have found to create a Standard Operating Procedure?
- What other tips can you share with other small and medium business owners to help them create better a small business?
Creating SOP’s can be a time consuming task. It make sense to find a template and stick with it.
Leave a comment below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can an SOP Template make it easier to create SOP’s?
Yes, using an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) template can significantly simplify the process of creating SOPs for various tasks and processes within an organization.
What is the easiest way to create an SOP?
The easiest way to create an SOP is to outline the specific task or process clearly in a single sentence, detailing the steps and responsibilities involved, ensuring it is concise and easy to understand.
Who uses SOP’s?
SOPs are used by organizations to provide standardized step-by-step instructions for employees to follow, ensuring consistency, compliance with regulations, and efficient handling of various tasks and processes.
How many different types of SOP Templates are there?
There is no fixed or specific number of SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) templates, as they can vary widely based on the nature of the organization, industry, and specific processes being documented.
Why do we need Standard Operating Procedures?
SOPs are essential tools that contribute to the smooth functioning of organizations by providing consistency, efficiency, and compliance while also promoting accountability, training, and safety.
What is an SOP Format?
The SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) format is a structured document that outlines the step-by-step instructions for completing a specific task or process within an organization.
How SOP’s Will Change my Business?
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) streamline processes, ensuring consistency and efficiency, improving team moral and generally improving business performance.
How do I write my own SOP?
Writing your own SOP’s is easy. Simply determine the end result desired, list out the steps as a preliminary list and then document the process in detail.
What is the best format for an SOP Template ?
MS Word is a great format for SOP templates as it is commonly used, easy to use and very easy to update.
Will a free SOP Template actually be useful?
There are certainly numerous free SOP Templates online that you can modify to suit your business.
Where can you source a free SOP Template?
You can discover free SOP templates that are suited to various businesses and purposes from a number of trustworthy sources. Microsoft Office Templates has a number of SOP options available. Educational Institutions and Professional Organisations are also good places to source these types of templates.