Improving business processes – both simple and complex – is a task that can be daunting, but there is a shortcut that promises to yield results: standardization. Standardization reduces ambiguity and can greatly reduce inefficiency by systematically applying tested practices to a workflow. Improving operational efficiency through standardization is not new – especially in industries such as maintenance, manufacturing, call centers etc., which benefit greatly from the standardization of repetitive, daily operations or more complex workflows.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document used for that precise purpose – it identifies and outlines those best practices.
Aside from promoting consistency and efficiency, an SOP is a valuable asset for onboarding new hires: functioning as a workflow manual, an SOP is a great way to learn about a process, while having a “cheat sheet” handy at all times. Not only that, they are customizable and can be adapted to processes of various complexity, including safety warnings and tips for the execution of highly specific tasks. Following a detailed workflow, along with useful additional info on a process, will ensure consistent and compliant outcomes and results, streamline the workflow, and finally – improve productivity. As such, SOPs are a valuable tool for any department.
The featured infographic will lead you through the intended uses of an SOP, the different SOP types (with examples), the structuring of an SOP document with steps to follow when creating your own standardizations, and the digital tools available to make these procedures simpler and quicker. Note that the work does not end here: you might need to tweak your first draft a bit, you will have to adapt your SOP following major workflow changes, and you will need to work with your staff to ensure both adequate training and compliance.
When making your SOPs – regardless of their type or custom structure – remember that a well-written one should yield consistent results; it should lead to error reduction through standardization; finally, it should be written out clearly, in an easy-to-follow manner. If done correctly, introducing SOPs will streamline and improve processes, leading to improvements in both efficiency and productivity.