Importance of Standard Operating Procedures in a Business
Standard operating procedures describe how your company conducts business. Government regulations typically state basic requirements and allow individual businesses to define how work gets done by their employees.
Your standard operating procedures should document how quality management systems and technical activities function. SOPs typically define the procedures necessary to maintain and use production systems so that product output conforms to industry standards. Using these procedures, your staff can complete job tasks reliably, consistently and safely.
Identify the SOPs needed by your organisation. For example, create a list of SOPs required to provide instructions on testing, operation, analysis, archiving and support. Identify who needs to contribute to generating the SOPs and who needs approve the documents. Set up a review process, and document when and how revisions occur. SOPs should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure current relevance by the departments using them, and at least once annually by the person delegated with overall responsibility.
Download a template document from the internet, a simple search will produce a number of different options. Alternatively, create a document format appropriate to the company. Each procedure should have a descriptive full title and number. For example, label procedures related to personnel with the letters “HR” for Human Resources.
Write a short summary describing the purpose of the procedure and any other related procedures. List the necessary equipment and general safety instructions. Provide specific model numbers or versions of software, if applicable. Include references to supplementary usage manuals. List the name of the author and the date of the document. List the name of the person who can approve this procedure and the date of approval.
Create pages containing detailed instructions. Include the date of approval or a version number on each page. Include the SOP number and specify the category on each page as well. At the bottom of each page, include the current page number and the total number of pages in the document.
Archive the document once accuracy is verified. Distribute copies to the appropriate personnel and ensure everyone on the team receives training on how to retrieve, use and provide feedback on the standard operating procedures. For example, create a company intranet website so you can upload, catalogue and allow access to your documents. Monitor access to the documents. Examine logs and output generated by the execution of each procedure to ensure behaviour conforms to each documented standard operating procedure.
Do you have a full set of up to date SOP’s for your company?
Adapted from an article by Tara Duggan, www.smallbusiness.chron.com