Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs are written documents that establish a standard set of step-by-step procedures or a course of actions in a work area as directed by an organization. It helps the staff members to carry out operations that are routine in their nature or are repetitive. In this article, we have assimilated professional sample standard operating procedures templates in word format for your needs.
It aims to eliminate errors due to miscommunication and to improve the efficiency of the overall performance of the staff members. In many organizations, SOP is to ensure consistency in product quality and following standard safety procedures while at work to keep workplace accidents minimal.
Different organizations have their different SOPs i.e. it is very specific to each organization. If employees do not follow the SOP, it becomes a document of limited value. Apart from electronic copies for easy sharing over mail or by any means of modern communication, a SOP should be available in hard copy too for quick printing and distribution purpose while training new employees. In the digital age, most companies send a SOP to their employees as a soft copy.
Moreover, the quality assurance team or a supervisor must review it periodically for any possible changes due to evolving changes in the industry or organization.
Sample Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) templates
Air Force – standard operating procedure template
Administrative – standard operating procedure template
Automotive standard operating procedure template
Accounting standard operating procedure template
Standard operating procedure template for accounts payable
Standard operating procedure template for accounts receivable
Standard operating procedure template for bar
Standard operating procedure template for cafe
Standard operating procedure template for cleaning
Chemistry standard operating procedure template
Standard operating procedure template for customer complaints
Origin of SOP
The world felt the need of SOP for the first time after the deadly collision of two trains that happened on July 17, 1856. This was two decades before the invention of the telephone. Experts believe that it was possible to avert the collision if there was a SOP at that time with the experienced engineers. An approximate l50 people died and 100 received injuries in the train accident. Soon, after the collision, there was an outcry over the bad state of safety measures and this gives birth to the very first SOP. Safety measures were standardized, and the railroad companies documented all possible actions that their employees should refer and follow during different circumstances. Soon other companies follow their foot- steps and having a SOP become a common affair across the world by organizations, businesses, etc. Today, even small businesses have their own SOP documented clearly.
Types of SOP
There are two types of SOP i.e. technical and administrative. While a technical SOP instructs the user or staff members about how to validate a software, do quality assurance, or testing, an administrative SOP many consists of entirely different things like defining procedures about office correspondence, review of product requirements and employment training. In many organizations, instead of using the term ‘SOP’, employees use terms like standard protocols, laboratory procedures, Department Operating Procedure i.e. DOP, Quality Operating Procedure i.e. QOP, and much more.
For example, in the hospitality sector, most hotels, motels, or resorts have a well-written SOP for handling calls of potential guests for reservation requests. It has its steps written in the following manner:
- Pick up the call within three rings.
- Greet in a pleasant and audible voice.
- Introduce yourself by telling your name followed by your hotel name.
- Ask the caller how you can help him or her. For example, “Good morning/evening, this is your name, how may I help you?”
- Wait for a second so that the caller can answer or respond.
- When the guest ask for an accommodation in your hotel, tell about the types of accommodations available and the rates.
- Ask the guest about the type of accommodation he or she wants to reserve.
- Wait for a second so that the caller can respond and then as per the response, ask the date of arrival and departure as well as his or her contact number.
- Check availability of the specific type of accommodation on the given dates.
- If there is availability, inform the guest about the same and tell about the amenities for that type of accommodation offered by your hotel.
- If there is no availability for the given dates, ask the guest if he or she would like to have another type of accommodation as there is no availability for that type of accommodations or rooms.
- If the guest response is in ‘yes’, check the availability of any accommodation for the given dates and if found inform about the same to the guest.
- Ask the guest, if he or she will like to avail an airport pick or drop service.
- Ask the guest regarding the mode by which he or she will make the payment i.e. cash, credit card, etc.
- Request him or her to pay the advance amount for reservation.
- If the guest has made the payment of the advanced amount, inform him or her about the reservation being made successfully and give the confirmation number.
- Conclude the conversation by saying, “Thank you for calling your hotel name, have a nice day”.
Standard operating procedure template for fire department
Standard operating procedure template for drivers
Standard operating procedure template for events management
Standard operating procedure template for logistics
Standard operating procedure template for security guards
Standard operating procedure template for hotel sales
Inventory standard operating procedure template
Standard operating procedure template for food industry
Standard operating procedure template mining
Standard operating procedure template for purchasing
Schools standard operating procedure template
Software standard operating procedure template
Standard operating procedure template for training
Standard operating procedure template for warehouse
Standard operating procedure template for retail stores
IT standard operating procedure template
ISO standard operating procedure template
Healthcare Industry – Standard Operating Procedure Templates
Similarly, in the healthcare industry, even for the first aid of electrical burns, SOP steps goes like the following manner.
- Make the scene of accident safe
- Turn off the power
- If you can’t turn off it, stand on some dry and non-conductive surface like wooden board or telephone book
- Use a non-conductive object like a wooden or plastic stick, wooden chair or rubber doormat to separate the person from the electric current
- If there are high voltage lines, call the local power company to shut off the power
- When the power is shut off, approach the person
- Check the airway, breathing and circulation
- Do CPR if there is no breathing or pulse
- Check if there are any other injuries
- Call the doctor immediately
Standard operating procedure template for nursing
Pharmacy standard operating procedure template
Veterinary standard operating procedure template
Standard operating procedure template in clinical research
Standard operating procedure template for laboratory
Advantages of a SOP
There are myriads of advantages of using a SOP within an organization irrespective of its size and nature of business. Some of the benefits are as follows
- Minimization of variations by different employees while executing a process
- Improves credibility and ability of an organization to defense itself in any circumstances
- Promotion of quality due to consistency in process implementation methods
- Compliance with organization requirements
- Minimizes risk that occurs due to miscommunication
- Lessen mistakes while reconstructing a project activity from scratch
- Lessen instances of workplace accidents
- Make things simple for auditing teams
- Encourages continual improvement in the ability of employees to execute specific procedures
- Make training of trainees an easy affair within an organization, which is essential in almost every organization
How to write a SOP
There is no specific rule to write a SOP as every organization has different things to write. It is mostly organization specific so you need to write it regarding the processes or roles and responsibilities of the employees of your organization. So, if break into some definite steps, the process of writing a SOP will include the following steps.
- Firstly, you need to have clarity about the information that you want to put in the SOP
- Next, you need to write the title of the SOP along with its unique identification number and applicable department name
III. Now, write the purpose and scope of the SOP
- Next, prepare a table of contents in a page that should include all the things that you think are worthy to include in the SOP. This helps in quick referencing, especially when a SOP is quite lengthy
- Next, break the available information into logical steps, which others can follow and write about each as per the order in the table of contents
- You have to add detailing to each step based on its level of complexity, and number of employees or people who have to follow the same
VII. Use simple sentences. Add as many flowcharts or diagrams as needed to simplify the information
VIII. For creating flowcharts in less time and with high accuracy, online tools like the draw.io, Gliffy, and Creately comes extremely handy
- Prepare a reference page in which cite all the sources from where the information is sourced
- Mention the name of existing SOPs if you have taken any reference
- Write about the equipment employees will require. Also, include the sources where they can find the same to complete or execute the procedures listed in the SOP
XII. Include the precautionary steps that employees should undertake to avoid faults, mishaps, degradation in quality, and much more
XIII. Ensure complete accuracy about the procedures whether technical or non-technical in nature by interviewing employees to execute the procedures on a daily basis
XIV. Seek approval from the concerned authority to get the SOP approved or get it reviewed first from the Quality assurance team.
- Finally, get the signatures of their approval on the title page and if made any revisions as per their suggestions, do not forget to include the revision date or number of revisions on the title page
Dos and Don’ts of SOP writing
Some dos and don’ts are essential to take care while writing a SOP are the following ones:
- Write in an active voice with commanding words like Unplug, Include, Call, Request, Print, Check, Give, Edit, Do, Don’t, and much more
- Give examples wherever possible to ensure more clarity regarding procedure
III. Keep it well organized in its structure with proper headings and subheadings or bullet points wherever felt necessary
- Proof read it several times before submission for approval
- Make sure the document features no redundancy in terms of information
- Don’t write in a funny way as not everyone has a good sense of humor, and it can backfire
VII. Make sure the entire text is in a logical order
VIII. Never use long and complex sentences to convey intended information. Instead, convert it into simple and short sentences that everyone can understand with a quick glance
- In a technical SOP, never forget to include an ample number of screenshots. Using Print Screen key, this is quite easy
- Use the full form of an abbreviation of a technical term when the term is use for the first time within a SOP. For example, use the term User Interface for the first time while writing a SOP on website design, and then refer the term as simply UI.
- Refrain from using words that can be difficult to understood by all employees referring the SOP in the near future like instead of writing ‘finalize’, write ‘end’ or instead of writing ‘utilize’, write ‘use’.
XII. Pay attention to formatting before submitting the SOP for request of approval
Popular tools available for writing SOP
Technology has now facilitated people struggling with writing a SOP by giving them necessary tools. Some of the tools that you can try to write a SOP within minimal time are the following ones:
- Process Street
You can also do one thing i.e. go through the large collection of our SOP templates that will definitely help you in writing your own one with a little practice. We have a vast collection for almost every industry type so that you can have a good idea about the SOP writing tactics. You can also select the one that seems most appropriate to you to meet your objectives and download the same with a simple click.
Please, spare a few minutes to share your thoughts about our efforts to minimize your time in writing a SOP in the comment section below.
Important Resources for creating Excellent SOPs:
- http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Standard-Operating-Procedure – Learn about how to write a SOP effectively.
- http://smallbusiness.chron.com/write-standard-operations-procedures-manual-2596.html – SOP guide for small businesses.
- https://www.bizmanualz.com/save-time-writing-procedures/what-are-policies-and-procedures-sop.html – How you can save time using SOPs.
- http://virtualproductivitysolutions.co.za/2012/10/10/5-tips-for-writing-standard-operating-procedures/ – Miscellenious tips for writing SOPs.
- https://www.des.umd.edu/ls/sop/ – Another SOP guide.
- http://www.digicast.com.au/blog/bid/88627/5-Mistakes-Companies-make-with-their-Standard-Operating-Procedures – Tips to avoid common mistakes while creating SOPs.