Essential SOP and System Ideas All Businesses Should Use 

Here at systemHUB, we live and breathe systems and operating procedures. We work closely with clients every day to help them streamline even the trickiest of procedures and processes. Therefore, we’d like to think that we are in tune with finding which system and SOP touches work best for business owners and brands the world over.

Sometimes, it can be hard to work out which systems and SOPs will work best for your operation. No matter if you’re running a small start-up or are heading up a larger organisation, there will always be systems and processes that help to improve your efficiency and daily running.

But where do you start? A great place to begin will be to consider the essential facets of great systems that work. Here are just a few key ideas to help get you started.

Don’t ignore checklists.

It can be easy to assume that simple checklists are just that – simple. They’re ideal for helping businesses hit the ground running when it comes to processes and tasks which have limited outcomes, certainly. However, many people are keen to go all-out and to start throwing flowcharts and complicated plans at the wall. That’s not what process management should be about!

Before you start thinking about building complex patterns and charts, why not try using a simple checklist? In our experience, starting simple is a great exercise. If you are new to systems in general, it may be prudent for you to practice SOP writing by using a basic checklist template to get your ideas and functions down.

man writing notes

Creating checklists takes the guesswork out of what to do next, ultimately saving you time and streamlining your workflow .

  • All businesses should have processes and systems which are simple enough to cover with a few checkboxes and points.
  • Are there limited directions in which your process can travel? A checklist will be ideal for getting everything down on paper. This way, you can ascertain which tasks need to occur when, and what needs to happen in which order.
  • This hierarchical way of organising your processes and tasks may help you to understand and appreciate how everything comes together. That, to us, is an essential factor in understanding how systems work.

Checklisting first — and upgrading your SOP later — will help you to join the dots. You can always fill in the nitty-gritty later on. Regardless of the SOP management software you use, don’t go too complicated right away.

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Create necessary steps and systems.

Once you’re confident in your ability to build a process, you may get a taste for it! Therefore, you may find yourself keen to develop systems for absolutely every process in your business. While we always encourage forward thinking with SOPs, we do also believe there is such a thing as overkill. Why document processes when you’re just overcomplicating matters?

  • You’re going to have to think carefully about the daily tasks you’re looking to systemise. Can they take place without a detailed guide or checklist? Is there actually any physical room for more efficiency or productivity?
  • Is your team already working to target and to the quality of work you require? If building an SOP doesn’t offer any necessary support, you could well be designing it for the sake of it. That, to us, is a no-no.
  • The whole point of designing systems is to streamline, not to bog down your processes! We think it’s essential that all systems are designed and designated for specific purposes, and not for superficial ideas and ideals.

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office space brainstorming

Make room for delegation.

Concerned about delegating? Unsure if a standard operating procedure outline will do enough? Don’t worry. The systemisation process revolves around delegating specific tasks. If you’re worried about loosening control, this may be a learning process for you!

All good systems, in practice, should offer clear delegation. It’s essential, in fact, if an SOP or system is going to work well in practice. You shouldn’t ever feel embarrassed about passing certain work on.

Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Where do your weaknesses lie? Focus on encouraging members of your team with strengths that can counterbalance this. Build a system which empowers them to take control of this particular aspect of your daily running.

We feel it’s essential to build a system that not only delegates to a healthy degree, but which also directly involves your team. A great system essential is team input. There is nothing to say that you can’t write your SOPs without some form of staff feedback. After all, they are going to be the ones who obey the systems.

Great systems focusing on delegation help you to build a reliable, confident team around your daily operation. That, to us, is an essential facet of every business SOP. There should be a focus on handing more power to your team who will be happy and confident to do their part.

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Always overcompensate.

That may seem like a fairly obvious point. However, you are going to need to put a safety net of one form or another in place to secure your system and the success of your business. Therefore, we greatly encourage companies to create systems that overcompensate. That applies to each step of the process management trail.

  • By overcompensation, we refer to tangible commodities. Money, in particular, is something you should always overcompensate for. Sticking to tight, finite budgeting is not safe planning.
  • Where possible, design an SOP or system which allows for leeway with regard to financial control and budgeting. It is, after all, healthier to come out under budget than over.
  • Systems, of course, are built to deliver results within a specific timeframe. By creating an SOP which overcompensates slightly for delivery time and scheduling, you can always comfortably finish ahead of time.
  • If not, this is the perfect opportunity for you to fine-tune your system as you go. If you do find the timescales you set to be massively generous, you can slim down your SOP from month to month. Therefore, you can start to take the stabilisers off your bicycle – for want of a better metaphor!

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team listening at a meeting

Train team members to create, use, and fine-tune systems, as well as help them recognise how useful systems can be in getting their jobs done.

Train everyone the same.

Onboarding can be tricky. With systems, however, training and developing your team to stay on the same page just became a whole lot easier.

  • We recommend a basic training system for all personnel as an essential SOP.
  • While different people will have different specialisms, you can still develop and produce a training program that can be autonomously followed to the letter. That, at the very least, can help your team to understand your brand ethos, your general running, and what is expected of them from day to day.
  • However, training and development don’t stop there, as you probably well know. That brings us nicely onto our next idea.

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Produce personal SOPs.

Yes, while catch-all training will help to get everyone working from the same launch pad, it is also crucial that your team members receive individual training and support. What better way to do this than with personal action plans?

  • Developing a personal system with each person can be incredibly empowering. What’s more, you can actively work with them to develop a plan that helps them achieve short-term and long-term career goals.
  • A personal SOP could be something as simple as a basic to-do list or checklist for a given day. It could be a long-term plan which an operative sticks to for months at a time.
  • Not only can personal systems help to empower the individual, but they are also great for keeping you on track with their progress. When it comes to individual evaluations, you will be able to refer to their SOP progress and cross-reference it during interviews.
  • Producing personal SOPs can take time if you have plenty of people working under you. However, they are essential for personal and overall business development (in our collective opinion).

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woman brainstorming writing on a whiteboard

Aim for stability.

Another SOP essential is stability. By stability, we mean that the same outcome is found with each run of the system. There are a few essential tricks you could employ to secure your system and potential outcomes firmly in place:

  • Don’t overthink. The simplest systems are the most stable and the most secure. Therefore, if you find yourself adding in an idea or two without due cause, it may be your undoing.
  • At the same time, stability with larger processes often means considering each and every outcome. Unfortunately, for larger flowcharts and SOPs, this can mean a lot of time and research. However, it is always recommended that you look at every angle to ensure every possibility is catered to.
  • Therefore, strike a balance! Look at the bigger picture. Does your process thrive on simplicity? Do you need to consider every angle? Focus on keeping things secure.

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Need more inspiration?

Here at systemHUB, we’re focused on inspiring and encouraging all of our business clients — big and small — to embrace system essentials. Building great SOPs isn’t just about good document management. Need a little help? Call us on 1300 149 301 to get started.