Why Every Business Needs SOPs

Apr 4, 2013

blank book and pencilDo you have standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your business? Like most small business owners, you have likely established most procedures through trial and error. You figure out what works and then continue to tweak it until it is now the official method.
How do you make this method official? Well almost always when you start a business it is only you handling all the tasks and so there’s no need for the procedures to these tasks to be anywhere but in your head. Then as growth occurs and we hire individuals or companies to delegate tasks we “train” them and expect that they are taking copious notes so nothing is missed and the task is handled correctly.
WRONG. By starting with a standard operating procedures manual that can continue to be a reference point for everyone you hire, you will gain efficiency and productivity by reducing frustration and providing clear communication of your expectations.
There are 5 simple components to an effective manual:
1) Mission and/or Values Statement
Who you serve, why you serve, and what values and characteristics represent your company.
2) Organizational Chart
All positions within your company and an individual that holds that position’s responsibilities. One individual could appear several times within the chart when it is a small business.
3) Revision Chart/Calendar
A sheet that will document the history of the procedure and to track the continued efficiency of it. Determine a revision naming convention (i.e.; rev. 1-A, rev 1-B, etc.). Depending on how often the task is done will determine when you review for efficiency. When a procedure is modified for whatever reason outside of those times, it is updated automatically. This sheet should include the person’s name, the date, and reason for the revision.
4) Procedure Overview
A summary sheet that provides the purpose for the procedure, what position is responsible for executing it, and any materials, tools or data required to properly complete the procedure.
5) Step by Step Procedure
Numbered bullet points or a flow chart format if there are decision forks.
Setting your company, and everyone within it, up for success with clear expectations and proper tools to meet those expectations is essential to your continued growth.