Telling employees what to do is not nearly as effective as having a set of written guidelines they can follow with clear, detailed directives for each task. That’s where Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, come in. An SOP is a set of instructions for carrying out a myriad of business tasks—everything from compiling budget statistics to overseeing travel arrangements. Not only are SOPs crucial to every successful organization and business, no two organizations will have the same SOPs. Take a look at these 15 reasons every organization needs SOPs.
Offer step-by-step guidance for tasks and processes an organization carries out repeatedly
Help employees complete tasks successfully and dependably
Clearly communicate responsibilities so employees need not rely on memory, guessing or pestering others for help
Let everyone know who is responsible for what aspect of each task, who is approved to help out, and what steps must be taken should a mistake occur—despite SOP guidelines
Offer standards for handling internal and external requests and requirements
Ensure quality control and accepted, quantifiable outcomes
Help people and teams reach goals more smoothly and effectively
Allow anyone to be able to complete a task or project easily, efficiently and with few mistakes
Let another employee take over a coworker’s tasks when that person is on vacation, out sick, or has left the job
Allow managers to assess and address employee successes and failures during performance reviews
Improve employee motivation—because it’s always easier to do things right with a “blueprint” to work from
Let employees help each other learn new procedures
Reduce training time for new employees, who can refer to them as often as needed
Make delegating tasks a breeze
Help resolve issues and—hopefully—remove emotion from discussions about failures and/or significant issues
All that said, SOPs must be reviewed periodically to reflect changing roles, regulations and responsibilities, and to incorporate lessons learned.
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