The SOP writing process is likely going to be different from project to project. However, there are more than a few things to bear in mind when putting your first standard operating procedure down on paper.
The point of an SOP, or system, is to help clarify what goes into a process. Therefore, your first task is going to be to identify a problem and to break down all of the steps you will need to take to make sure it is attended to.
If you’re worried about the SOP writing process, don’t be! Everyone starts somewhere. With the assistance of existing checklist templates and other resources, you can hit the ground running with a great SOP your team can rely on for years to come.
Consider Your User
Once you’ve identified the everyday problem or process you wish to write an SOP for, you are going to need to think about your end user. It is similar to how an author may think about their readers! Consider how you wish to represent your information to your staff.
- Be clear and concise. Never say more than you have to. Brevity is key here, as it will leave little room for doubt.
- Avoid too much in the way of jargon. While it may be expected that some technical jargon is used here and there, you are going to need to keep things simple.
- Don’t ever be vague or ambiguous. A well-written SOP is going to need to comprise of words with solid meaning and without room for interpretation. If something needs to be done ‘occasionally’, make sure to explain how ‘occasionally’ it needs to happen.
- Format cleverly. Don’t get bogged down in long paragraphs. Keep it brief and straight to the point.
What Type of SOP Should You Build?
There are different types of SOPs and systems out there. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common ones.
- A checklist or step-by-step plan is ideal if there aren’t too many decisions or steps to take. This is as simple as a SOP can get!
- A simple graphic or hierarchical flow, which shows how steps fit together, is recommended if there are many steps to take. These SOPs should contain plenty of important information.
- A flowchart is always recommended if there are many different routes for decisions to take. These SOPs cover all eventualities. That means they can take time to write well!
Write Something to Rely On
The golden rule for writing SOPs is to produce a document that can answer all of your team’s questions without your need to intervene. Does your SOP allow staff to be confident in their decision-making? Is it clear what to do at every eventuality? To produce perfect rules through SOPs, you also need to make sure they can be relied on autonomously.
New to SOPs and systems? Unsure where to start? SystemHUB is always here to help. Call us on 1300 149 301 today to get started.