How To Write Standard Operating Procedures


A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that explains how a task is to be done for an organization. The SOP for any activity is sanctioned by the company’s management and must be followed to avoid punishment from the management team. The SOP is created partly as a way to safely execute activities, and to serve the best interests of the company. It is common for an SOP to be updated based on changes within the company and changes that are directly tied to the activity.

Choose A Format

The format you choose for an SOP usually depends on the activity you are describing. The SOP for maintenance on a piece of company equipment is best served with a list format, while the SOP for submitting forms to human resources would best be described with a flow chart.

Choose How Comprehensive Your SOP Will Be

Each SOP varies with its degree of detail. Some processes do not need to be explained in great detail to be done properly, while others need the long-form SOP to make sure everything is done right. Consult with company management to determine how comprehensive your SOP needs to be and what type of information needs to be included.

Brainstorm Information

After you have the list of the type of information you need, the next step is to start brainstorming on what precise type of data your SOP will include. You will need to review all pertinent information such as user’s guides and existing corporate policy before you can start brainstorming ideas for your SOP. When you brainstorm, you should write down every piece of information that comes to your head.

Start Editing Information

Your SOP is going to have a purpose that you must stick with in order to create a document that will be approved. For example, an SOP dealing with machine maintenance will be focused on preserving the company’s investment and the safety of the maintenance team. As you go through the information you gathered during your brainstorming, eliminate any information that does not fit the purpose of your SOP.

Bring In The Resources

Your brainstorming information will need to be verified by documented data before it can be part of an SOP. When you edit and prioritize information, you need to use verified resources that will help you to determine the importance of each piece of information you have created.

Use The Right Format

The format for your SOP should be:

<li>A title page that outlines the date of the SOP, any revision dates, the purpose of the SOP, the title and the names and signatures of the people on your team who prepared the SOP.</li>
<li>Table of contents</li>
<li>Body of the SOP including quality assurance methods</li>
<li>Reference list</li>

A company must have an SOP for every process it utilizes to make sure that those processes are done properly and within the guidelines of the company. When you take the time to write a good SOP, you are ensuring the smooth operation of your organization.