The Basics and Benefits of Standard Office Procedures (SOPs)
Standard Office Procedures (SOPs) is a system of written documents setting out procedures for all aspects of your business. SOPs are an important tool for your business to ensure that everyone in the company is following the same procedure and performing tasks consistently and correctly. Therefore helping towards a smooth running company.
SOPs should be produced for any recurring activity whether it is a technical, administrative or functional procedure that is to be followed within the business. They can also be written to manage risks, whether it is a fire evacuation procedure or key personnel moving to a competitor.
Each SOP describes in a step-by-step format how to perform a particular task or operation. The information within each SOP should be written in a brief, easy to follow format. The information should be kept short, simple and written clearly.
A typical SOP contains the following information:
Title ID Number Issue Date Review Date Person Responsible for SOP Person who has Approved SOP Pages Definitions Purpose Procedure Forms that are to be completed
Topics that SOPs cover can vary from business to business but examples are as follows:
Mission Statement and Objectives Organisation Chart Human Resources – Job Descriptions, Attendance, General Behavior and Regulations Information Technology Accounting Procedures Risk Management Quality Control Administrative Policies Health and Safety
A SOP Manual will provide you with:
Clear record of Office Policies and Procedures. Consistency - tasks will be performed correctly over and over again. Written information of what duties employees perform, when, why and how. A guide that can be used for training Legal protection – processes and procedures are defined in detail and print. Serve as benchmark for performance reviews, company goals and direction.
In order to be useful SOPs should be up to date with current practices and reviewed on a regular basis e.g. every 1-2 years. This is to ensure that the procedures are appropriate. If an SOP outlines a task that is no longer used it should be removed from the file and archived.
If SOPs are not written correctly they provided no value but on the other hand if SOPs are not followed then they will fail. Management need to enforce SOPs and copies should be made accessible to all employees either electronically or as a hard copy to achieve maximum effectiveness.