BlueSoft’s Essential Guide to Standard Operating Procedures Development

SMM

In the 1980s, the rock band Van Halen had an unusual request from their venues. In their dressing room, they asked for a bowl of M&M candies. However, their rider insisted there could be no brown candies in the bowl. While many people saw this as an inconvenience, the band had a purpose behind it. At the time, their shows were one of the largest touring productions in the country, involving heavy lights, pyrotechnics, and lines of electrical cables. If they came to the green room and saw brown M&Ms in the bowl, they knew the organizers had not paid attention to the details, and they would have to do extra checks to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Your business model may not involve the complexities of a stage show, but the key to success often lies in the details. One such detail that can significantly impact the efficiency, consistency, and quality of your operations, is the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs are the backbone of a well-organized business, ensuring that every action is performed with precision and uniformity.

For small business owners, the thought of developing and implementing SOPs might seem unnecessary when you have other priorities. After all, you know the ins and outs of your business. The truth is that SOPs are a helpful tool for businesses of all sizes aiming to streamline their operations, enhance productivity, and set a foundation for scalable growth. By defining clear, step-by-step instructions for your team, SOPs help minimize errors, simplify training, and ensure a consistent quality of service or product, which builds trust with your customers. This blog post will describe the purpose, benefits, and procedure for standard operating procedure development in your business. 

What is an SOP?

A Standard Operating Procedure is simply a written instruction for any repeated task in your business. When everyone in the organization carries out a task in the same every time, it yields a uniform performance.

Restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses in the food industry want to ensure their products taste predictably good every time a customer visits. Clear SOPs mean that new employees can come on board without changing the quality of the product.

These benefits don’t just extend to a burger and fries or your favorite latte. At BlueSoft, we have SOPs in place to maintain the standards for every website we develop, every PPC campaign we run, and many other day-to-day tasks.

Why Develop SOPs?

Developing SOPs offers several benefits to an organization. They are part of the way that entrepreneurs can move from being the business to running the business.

  • Consistency and Quality Control: SOPs result in consistent quality without constant oversight. Your employees will know how to carry out a task perfectly every time.
  • Efficiency and Productivity: An accessible set of procedures reduces the amount of time lost to repeated questions. Employees can spend their time on the task at hand.
  • Compliance and Safety: SOPs help businesses comply with industry regulations and maintain a safe working environment.
  • Scalability: SOPs create a framework that allows your business to grow. They can also serve as guideposts for growth. When you are unable to maintain your SOPs, it may mean you need to hire new employees.
  • Accountability: The SOP document makes employees more accountable for the business. When your staff can carry out tasks without your direct supervision, you can take a vacation now and then!

Tips for Effective Standard Operating Procedure Development

The hardest part of developing a packet of standard operating procedures is getting started. When you consider everything that has to happen to run a business, the task may feel overwhelming. However, you don’t have to create your SOPs in a day. Begin by identifying the core processes your business depends on and make a step-by-step list of how you accomplish them.

Once you have an initial list, try to follow it word for word. You will probably discover a few action steps you take for granted. Once you add those to the list, try having an employee walk through the procedure under your supervision. Are there unclear steps? Are the places where they stumble? Keep evaluating until an employee can follow the instructions and complete the task without assistance.

Tips for Effective SOPs

Business owners and managers must take a proactive approach to establishing SOPs in an organization. It is too easy for these instructions to end up forgotten, compromising consistency.

  • Regular Training and Review: The SOPs should be part of your onboarding process for new employees. You might want to create a regular SOP review schedule to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Appropriate Format: At BlueSoft, we use a Google sheet to maintain our SOPs. However, the format should work for your organization. For example, a restaurant might post images of menu items or step-by-step diagrams in the food preparation area.
  • Accessibility: Accessibility and format are linked. However you present your SOPs, they must be easily available to your personnel. For example, our cloud-based spreadsheet means remote workers can access the SOPs from any device.
  • Monitoring and Updates: While your SOPs standardize your employees’ actions, it doesn’t mean the document should be fixed in stone. New facilities, products, and equipment will require updates to your SOPs. If you notice inconsistent performance, it may be time to give your standard operating procedures a check. 

SOPs: A Key to Organizing Your Business

In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, business leader Michael Gerber shared the phrase, “Work on it, not just in it.” For small business owners, much of your time and effort is spent on keeping your business afloat. However, to get past the bootstrapping phase, you need to get organized, and establishing standard operating procedures is critical to that process. They will give you a framework to keep the business together as you grow and change. 

Remember to start small, looking for the processes that you absolutely need to get right every time. Once you have these standardized and flowing smoothly, move on to the next level of importance. Soon you’ll have a resource that will clearly describe your organization, giving you new options like expanding, franchising, or selling the business.

At BlueSoft, we are dedicated to helping our clients succeed. Do you need help getting organized or want advice about SOPs? Contact us today to set up a consultation.

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Elevate your business online with BlueSoft, LLC. We specialize in web design and digital marketing strategies tailored to your needs. Ready to ignite your growth? Schedule your free consultation today and let’s turn potential into success!

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