The success or failure of any business depends on how well the needs of the customers are met. Therefore, every business needs to have a list of rules and norms to follow, in order to work efficiently. These rules are called the Standard operating procedures.
What is SOP?
Standard operating procedures often referred to as SOPs are written instructions that detail how to complete routine tasks in simple steps. It aims to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations. SOP proves to be of great significance for teaching skills to new employees, and just getting things off the plate and making sure everything gets done consistently. Their formats generally include checklists, hierarchies, and flowcharts.
Every process that a company undergoes cannot be called an SOP. Only tasks that are routine, scalable, and sit at the core of a business are included in SOP. Before we can go any further, we need to address the elephant in the room – SOPs and processes are in fact different.
There are two major differences we need to be aware of :-
A process view tasks from a high level, i.e, moving through the general ways to do something. On the other hand, SOPs take the same high-level look as processes and then focus on peculiar details.
Processes leave enough room for innovation. But the result is not always preferable if the desired outcome needs to be predictable. In a process, outcome cannot be guaranteed. But a well-written SOP will always get you the same results.
Generally, SOPs are required at the following stages in any organization,
Client Onboarding SOP: the steps generally takenby a business during addition of a new customer
Customer service SOP: Steps required to handle common customer requests and complaints
Blog Management SOP: these are the guidelines about how to post on a website, standard components of a post, frequency and time of posting and steps to promote new blog posts via social media etc.
Why is SOP important?
Clear and precise standard operating procedures are important because they eliminate uncertainty about how to best complete assignments. Simply put, it becomes easier for an organization to carry out any routine tasks which are led by simple and clear instructions.
In any manufacturing company, having an efficient standard operating system is important as it not only provides information to perform the job, but also helps in achieving pre-determined specifications and quality end result.
For companies entering the hospitality verticals, an SOP is a great way to provide consistency, i.e., reducing cost and boosting productivity. A more promising standard operating procedure can also rectify the errors caused by facility damage, equipment failure or absence, leave of staff, etc.
Proper establishment of SOPs within the organization make it easier for managers to conduct employee performance appraisals. SOPs contribute in performance management within the organization by improving employee performance evaluation process. It helps managers to clearly identify the success of an employee and communicate deficiencies in performance reviews.
SOPs enable replication and growth. For an establishment working from different physical locations, establishment of SOPs enable uniformity and brand identity.
What kind of businesses use SOP?
1. Manufacturing - manufacturing standard operating procedure is a set of instruction documented with the aim of helping workers perform routine manufacturing tasks. It is designed to reduce the risk of error and prevent danger. They help manufacturers comply with local, state, and federal regulations. Operational managers depend on organized processes to meet rigorous quality control, production, and safety standards.
2. Warehousing - SOPs have a number of guidelines which, when followed provides smooth and standardized functioning of warehouses. When these are followed, it ensures timely completion of tasks with minimal deviations. With the ongoing pandemic, e-commerce departments are at an all-time high, making it extremely important for warehouses to follow health monitoring and cautionary protocols seriously. Thus, SOPs provide employees with all the safety, health, environmental and operational information necessary to perform a job properly and safely.
3. Restaurants - it is a proven fact that restaurant business is much unorganized or in other words, lacks a structure. Hence, there is a dire need to have proper guidelines for the standard operations and procedures. The restaurant SOP focuses on factors such as the hygiene of the staff, how well the customers are attended to, how is the food prepared, etc. The guidelines also focus on educating new as well as the old staff about their day-to-day duties to increase work efficiency.
4. Educational institutions - education departments involve several departments, teaching staff, non-teaching staff and others. These departments require organized procedures to keep buildings and student accommodations in working order. Educational SOPs often include fleet management, sanitation, fire safety, and water systems, among others. From athletic facilities, parking garages, and numerous other buildings all require routine upkeep.
Benefits of using SOPs
1. Reduces employee training time - Training-related SOPs help standardize orientation and training. It ensures that all new hires get the same training, on the same topics and responsibilities, in the same amount of time. It is both money and time saving.
2. Maintains consistency across the brand - SOPs maintain consistency by providing a set of written branding statements. These generally include guidelines about email formatting and signatures, rules for speaking to the media and the proper use of a company’s logo, colors and its tagline.
3. Reduce errors and enhance productivity - written SOPs ensure that all employees understand the policies, processes and procedures associated with their jobs. These are helpful while developing employee review and development plans.
4. Meet legal requirements - depending on the industry and its work profile, it is at times helpful to have a written SOP which protects the employees and customers, ensuring that they won’t be held responsible in case of mis happenings.
5. Transfer work easily - in case an employee fails to report to his duty, a written SOP eases the process of transferring the work from one employee to other.
6. Establish a chain of command - SOPs provide a company’s clear leadership structure. Such guidelines are important when distinguishing between different stages of a company.
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