As we’ve seen, the digital transformation has irrevocably shifted the business landscape and introduced new tools and processes. For example, McKinsey estimates that companies accelerated their adoption of digital technologies for customer and supply-chain interactions by 3 to 4 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This opens up demand for new SOPs related to the digital-first office.
If you aren’t familiar, SOP is the shortened term for Standard Operating Procedure. SOPs are a standardized set of rules and practices designed to make projects, job functions, and workflows organized, routine, and repeatable.
Creating new standard operating procedures takes careful thought and an organized approach. To make it easier, we’ve put together six steps to writing and deploying SOPs for your company.
1. Communicate with your teams
The first step requires communication. You will need to make sure you are on the same page as the employees who will be closely involved with the future processes.
Set meetings with managers, team leaders, and individual contributors from every department for which you plan to create SOPs. After meeting with everyone, you should feel prepared to:
- Outline the procedure’s purpose
- Explain the scope of work involved
- Define any obscure or specific jargon
- Create the necessary labeling and categorization systems
- Write out step-by-step instructions.
Do not treat communication with teams as optional. It’s fundamental to understand everything that goes into a particular operation or task, and you may lack the full knowledge of the requirements for some procedures without some assistance.
2. Determine Your Format
When you begin putting together your SOPs, it’s best to decide in detail what the format will look like for every single one ahead of time. This doesn’t have to be rigid blocks of text. Instead, you can use charts, diagrams, visual workflows, checklists, or whatever works most effectively for your company.
You may consider using that same format across all SOPs or perhaps vary the structure depending on the needs of the department or the type of work it entails. Remember, consistency is key, so if you plan to use multiple formats, abide by a strict code of reasoning and don’t overcomplicate the layout.
Helpful Hint: It never hurts to review templates and examples that other companies use for format inspiration.
3. Keep It Simple
Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and while he may not have been explicitly talking about standard operating procedures, his poetic reasoning still applies.
When writing out your SOPs, keep the language as concise and straightforward as possible. Of course, this doesn’t mean cutting out essential details but rather ensuring the document is quickly skimmable and not overly wordy or hard to read.
Play with spacing to help achieve simplicity. Instead of typing up bulky chunks of text, you can set up bulleted lists, short two-sentence paragraphs, or separated sections. Keep this plain, simple style consistent across all your SOPs as well.
4. Use SOP Software For Effective Deployment
For optimal results, you will need SOP management software to help implement your processes. Ideally, your solution should enable you to create SOPs within the software and embed them directly into task tickets and pre-built workflows. This way, your assignees can quickly access their operational instructions, so the next steps are clear.
Also, an SOP software solution that includes IT automation will improve operations by accelerating critical functions like approvals and workflows without increasing the workload. The ability to create and automate workflows aligns perfectly with standardized and repeatable SOPs and serves the desired predictability of operations. Additionally, automated triage settings help draw attention to the most urgent tasks, so your teams stay on schedule.
5. Store Your SOPs in an Easy-to-Access Database
When you create SOPs, it’s helpful to embed them in tickets for specific tasks, as discussed. However, it’s also prudent to develop a library of all your documented operational procedures which your entire organization can access whenever necessary.
A comprehensive library of processes creates a level of organization and transparency that every efficiency-minded business desires.
Helpful Hint: If your SOP management software allows you to create a central knowledge base or content hub, then that would work well for your teams without the need to purchase an additional software solution.
6. And Finally, Always Be Evaluating
Outlining standard processes for your organization is no easy feat, and once systems are in place, it can be tempting to sit back and get complacent. But the key to maintaining an effective culture of routinized process is to continuously edit and evolve.
Keep your standard procedures accurate, helpful, and relevant so your teams can stay as productive and empowered as possible.
Curious about trying SOP software? Try DeskDirector for free to see how the power of process can drive your most critical business objectives.