What are Standard Operating Procedures and why do I need them?

All businesses have their own specific procedures and operations that are carried out within their business. These Standard Operating Procedures (otherwise known as SOPs) help them effectively run their business. Without them, there would be no set routine or order to anything they do and they wouldn’t be able to function properly. 

But many businesses don’t fully understand what their operating procedures are, why identifying them is important or why they should even document them. So here’s what you need to know about SOPs in your business.

What are Standard Operating Procedures?

Standard Operating Procedures are step-by-step instructions designed to help you carry out the tasks within your business. Collectively known as their SOPs (or Standard Operating Procedures), these are often collated together into a SOPs manual.

This manual of SOPs has many different names, including playbook, how-tos, procedural guidelines and a SOPS manual. Personally, I like Playbook or how to’s as they both sound less scary and more fun!

Why SOPs are important

All businesses need structure and SOPs help you achieve that. The individual processes you carry out within your business are documented to create a guide (or how-to). This helps ensure your service or product is delivered consistently every time. Essentially, they ensure each task is completed to the same standard and follows the same process, to achieve the same result.

There are different types of SOPs depending on the level of depth and complexity of the process. Typically, this can include:

  • Checklist style.
  • Word Document.
  • Infographic or image.
  • video guide.
  • Flowcharts.

The format of SOPs can vary significantly from industry to industry and even depend on your business activity or industry regulations.

Why do I need Standard Operating Procedures if I work alone?

Regardless of whether you’re working alone or with others, are an established or new business, you’ll still have procedures you follow to create your desired end result. This can include things such as:

  • Client onboarding.
  • Employee onboarding.
  • Refund procedure.
  • Sales process.
  • After-sales process.

Having SOPs in place is good practice, as it puts the right foundations in place right from the start. It ensures you’re delivering the same uniform and high standard to every client, every time – no matter whether you work alone or are looking to outsource a task.

The benefits of SOPs

You wouldn’t build the roof of your house before having foundations in place. Running a business without SOPs in place leaves you open to mistakes, miscommunication and neglect. 

SOPS benefit your business in a number of ways:

  • They make it easy to evaluate a process for optimisation and automation.
  • Help make hiring and outsourcing easy, as you already have the process documented and know what you can outsource to someone else.
  • Scaling your business further down the line will be smooth sailing as you have your foundations in place.
  • Enable business continuity.
  • Ensure you’re saving time and running in the most time-efficient manner.
  • Establish consistency within your business.

Any business that’s looking to function effectively and efficiently, needs to have Standard Operating Procedures in place. It’s not enough to just know how to do something, you also need to document it clearly. Not only does this act as a reference manual for you, but it also enables you to grow and scale as needed. 

And if you ever get to the stage where you want to sell your business, it will look far more attractive if it has every procedure documented within a SOPs manual. It enables the new owner to hit the ground running quickly and efficiently.

If you’d like to get to grips with the specifics around SOPs or if you’d like to explore someone documenting them for you, book in a Power Hour session with me. I can help you have a clear understanding of what systems and processes you use within your business, as well as how to accurately document them. If you’d like help clarifying or optimising a specific process within your business, a Power Hour is also a great way to get outside help at an affordable price. You’ll find all the details on my Power Hour sessions, along with the booking and payment link, here.


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