Companies depend on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for operations, maintenance, you name it.
One thing’s for sure: The better your SOPs are, the better your whole organization will operate.
Here are some keys for writing and implementing SOPs:
1. Readable and repeatable
The best SOPs are not only easy to read – they’re easily understood when read aloud to staffers.
Think of SOPs as verbal orders, not just written guidelines. Key: The better the SOP reads out loud, the more likely workers will clearly understand the steps.
2. Keep it simple, stupid
SOPs should be written:
• step by step, and
• in shorter sentences.
Long, detailed sentences lose people along the way. Keep the steps simple and as short as possible so that staffers don’t waste time trying to figure out procedures.
3. The format matters
In general, SOPs should include, in order:
• A title page, including the name of the document, your organization’s name, the publication date, revision dates, the department that created the SOP, and the authors.
• A table of contents with page numbers for the contents.
• Chapter pages, which introduce each section.
• Chapter content. Each chapter should briefly describe the procedure, the regulation or standard that may apply to a procedure, and step-by-step instructions in a logical order.
4. Pictures and diagrams
Not sure if words are enough to explain procedures? Then include pictures and diagrams too.