Whether it be for employee onboarding or adhering to ISO guidelines, standard operating procedures (SOP) are an integral part of making sure your company runs smoothly, stays organized, and ensuring your team consistently follows protocol.
But, where do you start if you’ve never documented your company procedures before?
It can be intimidating when you’re first beginning to build your standard operating procedures.
That’s why we’ve built four SOP example templates, to give you a clear and easy-to-follow framework to be able to easily build your own procedures from start to finish.
This post is all about SOP innovation. Using Process Street, you can create SOPs in new, more efficient ways.
Here’s a breakdown of the article:
- Get started with these SOP examples
- What’s the deal with SOPs and why are they important?
- SOP examples for process innovation
- How to use Process Street for SOP innovation
- More SOP resources
Get started with these SOP examples
In this Process Street article, we’ve built a bunch of SOP examples for you from scratch. Each of them represents a different approach to doing SOPs. We’ve presented them for you below in the form of checklist templates.
Each one highlights a different use case, and solves a different problem. We also have a ‘master’ template that combines all of these features into one solution. You can pick and choose the SOP example that’s most relevant to you.
Here’s what the master template looks like:
Here’s all of the other templates in this article for reference:
- Enforced SOP Structure Template
- Collaborative SOP Structure Template
- Variable SOP Structure Template
- Conditional SOP Structure Template
- Master (Feature Rich) SOP Structure Template
- Simple SOP Structure Template
What’s the deal with SOPs and why are they important?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with SOPs, so I’ll try to skip the basics. That said, I think it’s important to mention a few important ideas to help you understand how Process Street helps you streamline your SOPs.
The main concepts we’ll be focusing on are process flexibility and process adherence.
Process flexibility: Building robust processes
As Schonenberg et al outline in their paper Process Flexibility: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches:
“Process flexibility can be seen as the ability to deal with both foreseen and unforeseen changes, by varying or adapting those parts of the business process that are affected by them, whilst retaining the essential format of those parts that are not impacted by the variations. Or, in other words, flexibility is as much about what should stay the same in a process as what should be allowed to change.”
The four main approaches to process flexibility are:
- Flexibility by design (building a process to account for multiple expected outcomes);
- Flexibility by deviation (allowing for nonlinear process following);
- Flexibility by underspecification (accommodating for some degree of freedom in how the process is followed);
- Flexibility by change (the ability to change and continuously improve a process);
Two of the SOP examples are built with these principles in mind: the variable and conditional SOP template structures.
Check out my colleague Adam’s great post on process flexibility for a real deep dive on the principles mentioned above.
Process adherence: Why aren’t people following my process?
Process adherence is a big problem, and the heart of it belies a disconnect between company culture and the way processes are implemented.
People should come before processes, and the best way to get people using processes is to make those processes painless.
So why don’t employees follow processes? Here’s some common reasons:
- Processes are hard to find or take too much time to use
- Processes are out of date
- Processes are dull or difficult to read
- No one has the responsibility of mentoring the team and policing their process adherence
- Errors are treated as one-offs, not real problems with the documented processes
Good process design, as well as having the right kind of tools can help you avoid some of these common pitfalls.
Two of the SOP examples have been built with these principles in mind: the enforced and collaborative SOP template structures.
We have a whole blog post on process adherence, too, if you’re interested in reading more.
SOP examples for process innovation
Now that we’ve covered the main points for why SOPs are important, let’s look at some SOP example templates built with Process Street, and how they help streamline your SOPs.
Think of these SOP examples like blueprints you can use to build out your own SOPs. Each of them is designed around a specific use case:
- Enforced SOP Structure Template (for enforcing a rigid, linear SOP where task order is important);
- Collaborative SOP Structure Template (using role and task assignment to make collaboration on your SOPs simple);
- Variable SOP Structure Template (a combination of static and dynamic process for improved flexibility);
- Conditional SOP Structure Template (using conditional logic to accommodate process flexibility);
- Master SOP Structure Template (an example of what a superpowered SOP might look like);
- Basic SOP Structure Template (a no-frills SOP structure template to get you up and running ASAP);
- BONUS: ISO 9001 Structure Template (a ready-for-action quality management system SOP structure template);
SOP Examples: Enforced SOP Structure Template
The value here is all about enforcing a strict, linear set of instructions. Need to make sure the process is followed to the letter, with no deviation in order? This one’s for you – it uses stop tasks to keep the process laser-focused on the task at hand.
SOP Examples: Collaborative SOP Structure Template
Using role and task assignments together with approvals helps create the ultimate collaborative SOP template. You’ll never have to worry about inter-departmental SOPs or work approvals again with this example.
SOP Examples: Variable SOP Structure Template
Here “variable” refers to the combination of fixed and variable instructions. Some parts of this template will be fixed (i.e. stuff you know will need to be done every time) while certain steps will be variable (i.e. the “variable” daily tasks you may not know until you start the process).
The example used to illustrate this SOP is a daily work schedule for editor tasks, but the template can be adapted for anything with a little tweaking.
SOP Examples: Conditional SOP Structure Template
If you have a SOP that involves multiple outcomes that you can’t actively predict (but can still prepare for) then this is the SOP example template you’re looking for.
Using conditional logic, various different outcomes can be proactively prepared for, and will be displayed to the person following the SOP based on whatever criteria you set (i.e. if the response to a form field is “yes” instead of “no”).
SOP Examples: Master SOP Structure Template
Here we have an example using all of the features above, to illustrate what a fully built-out SOP example structure might look like.
If you need a SOP example template that utilizes all of the features mentioned above, this one’s for you.
SOP Examples: Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Template Structure
This is a relatively streamlined SOP format, for those who just want a straightforward SOP example template without the bells and whistles.
If you’re looking to get started with optimizing your SOPs as fast as possible and don’t care about process adherence or flexibility, then this one’s for you.
SOP Examples BONUS: ISO 9000 Structure Template
As a bonus, here’s a SOP structure template for creating a quality management system mini manual to the requirements of ISO 9001 for quality management.
How to use Process Street for SOP innovation
If it’s not obvious by now, Process Street is a workflow management software that specializes in superpowered checklists. It makes following processes and SOPs fun, fast and faultless for you and your team.
When we say SOP innovation, we mean that SOPs are often poorly implemented, and that’s partly due to the tools people use to implement them.
If you’re following a process and you think of a way to improve it, you should be able to edit the process and make that improvement. You can’t do that if you’re reading a PDF, for example.
If you’re using Evernote, Google Docs, or Dropbox Paper, to keep track of and follow your processes, you can’t account for process flexibility or make sure employees are following your processes properly.
If you’re using printed forms, then you have all the problems above, and then some (no ability to make clean edits on-the-fly, difficult to share without printing multiple copies, no mechanisms to enforce process flexibility; the list goes on).
You get the idea. With Process Street, you can build your SOPs quickly and easily, share them with your team by sending a link, or adding them to the process using role and task assignments, and make sure your processes are being followed how you intended them to be with stop tasks and conditional logic.
You can see an example of what a fully fleshed-out Process Street standard operating procedure might look like in this Employee Onboarding Checklist below:
These are just a few examples of how Process Street streamlines SOPs. You can also use dynamic due dates to ensure tasks are completed on time, and approvals to get work signed off by management in a timely manner.
Check out this video for a great overview of Process Street (and don’t forget you can sign up for free!):
More SOP resources
We’ve written a lot about SOPs on this blog. Here’s some of that, if you’re interested.
- Simple SOP Format Guide: How to Write Standard Operating Procedures
- What is an SOP? 16 Essential Steps to Writing Standard Operating Procedures
- 20 Free SOP Templates to Make Recording Processes Quick and Painless
- Best Marketing Automation Software: 10 Tools to Autopilot Marketing Emails
- The Complete Guide to Business Process Management
- Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation with Zapier
- 50 Ways To Save Time & Money with Workflow Automation
- 222 Zaps to Crush Your Current Process Automation
Don’t forget to sign up for a free Process Street trial!
Thanks for reading. Before you go, consider leaving a comment – we’re interested in how our readers are implementing SOPs. If you have any tips or examples for effective SOP implementation, let us know. Your comment will be helpful to other readers!