Simple SOP Format Guide: How to Write Standard Operating Procedures

sop format

One of the most important things you can offer your customers and employees is consistency.

Your customers need consistency in your products and services, your employees need consistency to help them do their job efficiently, and your company needs consistency in order to continuously improve your policies and procedures.

The best way to make sure that you have consistency within your company is by implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Most companies already have SOPs that their employees follow, but they’re either rarely updated, or they’re never even properly documented to begin with.

This is often because writing, reviewing, and regularly updating your SOPs can typically take a lot of time, especially when starting from scratch.

But thankfully, there are ways to make your job a lot easier.

That’s why in this Process Street article, we’ll go over the general guidelines for the SOP format and other ways you can streamline your processes to help you get started building your SOPs.

We’ll be covering:

If you’re simply looking for a SOP format to get started with, then look no further!
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Agile ISO: How to Combine Compliance with Rapid Process Improvement

agile isoISO standards can be confusing and intimidating.

However, with the 2015 updates, it really shouldn’t be that scary.

In the past, conforming to ISO meant huge manuals and a lengthy process to change how tasks were approached.

Now, there is increased flexibility and the opportunity to utilize software to speed up your systems and make everything easier to handle.

This is why we’re presenting you with our concept of Agile ISO: how to combine structured compliance with the rapid process improvement of a startup.

In this Process Street article, we’ll cover:

  • What is ISO?
  • What is ISO 9000?
  • What is Agile ISO?
  • What is needed to support Agile ISO?
  • How to get started with Agile ISO in 5 easy steps

I’m going to try to be brief and clear while cutting the bullshit.

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Why You Need Customer Service Processes, and How to Get Started Now

The following is a guest contribution from Mary Shulzhenko. Mary is a digital marketer, content strategist and a copywriter. She is passionate about writing on customer service, customer experience, small business, marketing and a variety of other business topics. She provides the original content for LiveAgent, an award-winning and the most reviewed help desk software for SMBs in 2018. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Would you agree to fly on a plane knowing that the crew was simply ‘told’ what to do but didn’t use clear guidelines and instructions? Probably not.

Sadly, that is how many organizations operate today – without realizing that it may result in a wide range of negative consequences, from employee inefficiency, to lost customers and profits.

Telling employees what to do is not nearly as effective as having a set of written step-by-step instructions they can follow, explaining how exactly routine operations should be performed. That’s where standard operating procedures, or SOPs, come in.

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Why Process Standardization Improves Quality, Productivity, and Morale

The following is a guest post by professional copywriter and freelance writer Michael Schultheiss, owner of Inkwell Freelance.

Imagine if your support staff had no set guidelines for handling a ticket.

It would be like you pulled in a group of random people from the street, sat them down at the helpdesk, and expected to see a job well done.

Instead of a job well done, it’d probably look more like this:

That’s essentially what you’re allowing when you fail to standardize processes. Your company’s operations consist of tasks that must be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis to ensure that it runs smoothly. But if these processes aren’t standardized, you’re inviting chaos.

These could be core processes like dealing with a customer support request, or tasks that recur less often like SSL certificate renewal.

Every task — regardless of how often you do it — requires rules that define the scope, quality, and methods to be followed. If you don’t standardize these rules, you can’t have visibility over whether you’re ensuring quality and reducing human error.

In short, running your business will be an operational nightmare.

To help you avoid that, in this article we’ll look at process standardization as follows:

  • What is process standardization?
  • The benefits of standardization
  • Common concerns about standardization
  • How Process Street can help you standardize

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Here’s What Goes Catastrophically Wrong When You Don’t Follow Your IT Process

IT Process

On November 18, 2014, Microsoft Azure went dark. Thousands of the cloud computing service’s customers experienced downtime on their sites for over 9 hours. When they flooded Microsoft customer support to ask what the hell had gone wrong, customers learned that it wasn’t some glitch, natural disaster, or devious hacking scheme.

It was pure human error.

Microsoft deployed an update without running through the standard operating guidelines specifically laid out for this scenario. Instead of rigorously checking that the update was good to go, engineers shipped it on the assumption it was bug-free. This wasn’t just this one-time incident—engineers at Azure regularly violated standard operating procedure because 99.9% of the time, it was a total waste of their resources.

And it’s not just Azure that does this—habitual violation of process leads to a ton of mistakes in all kinds of IT arenas.

When I was 16, I landed my first “real” job which so happened to be in IT. I had just passed my CCNA with the help of my dad (apparently the youngest person in Australia at the time) and was hungry to get my hands on some real technology.

But once I started, I found there was rigid process everywhere, and configuring a live Windows 2000 server was a totally different experience to tinkering with my fathers machines at home, with serious consequences for not following the process.
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What is Business Systemisation?

what-is-business-systemisation 1

[ Download our Free Ebook ] – Click here to download our free 111 page ebook on “How to automate the tasks you hate at work using Zapier“.

Business systemization gained notoriety from the bestselling book by Michael E. Gerber, published in 1986, The E-Myth – Why most businesses don’t work and what to do about it. In 2011, this groundbreaking book was named the number 1 business book of all time by The Wall Street Journal. In The E-Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) Gerber explains how businesses are usually started by those who know the content of a business – so-called “Technicians”, people who know how to do the technical work involved in an enterprise – rather than by those who know business itself – so-called “Entrepreneurs” – and why start-ups are therefore by definition prone to failing.

In order for a company or business to thrive, it must move beyond relying on the so-called “Technician” who is now also the company owner. Gerber uses the franchise model to demonstrate how a business does this: Franchises are prototype businesses that are operated in terms of well-documented systems, i.e., there are manuals describing in minute detail how to run the business. Gerber argues that the entrepreneur should spend time creating a business that can run by itself, without the presence of the entrepreneur, and this is achieved through business systemization.

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How to Automate like McDonalds: What Systems can do for your Business

McDonalds Business Systems

[ Download our Free Ebook ] – Click here to download our free 111 page ebook on “How to automate the tasks you hate at work using Zapier“.

As a small business grows, and the number of employees increases, it is no longer possible for the person at the helm, the business owner, to attend to all problems as they arise. Without systems in place, you may find that you are dealing with issues in an ad hoc, time-consuming and often chaotic manner. It will mean that your employees are constantly bringing problems to you and that your business cannot run without you. This can be enormously stressful for you as a manager and frustrating for your staff. Systemisation of your business will be a key factor in helping you create a scalable, sustainable business that operates equally effectively whether you are present or not.

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Smash the bottleneck – Getting started with documenting systems

Smash the bottleneck

Too many business owners are killing their business by being the bottleneck.

We know that as a business owner it’s important for you to have control over absolutely every single thing that happens in your business.

Oh, hold on… Is it?

Too much control can be a bad thing. When you have too much control you run the risk of becoming a bottleneck for your business. You end up micro-managing and stressing out over minute, unimportant details. You are in the way of your own success of your business? Do you think the owners of successful companies are involved at every level? No. Hell, some of them aren’t even involved. They just receive the check. They can do this because they are masters at 3 things:

  • Documenting
  • Delegating
  • Trusting

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How to Salvage your Business from a Deep Freeze

Deep Freeze 1

Much of North Eastern America is facing a brutal start to 2014. Snowstorms are sweeping through many northern states causing chaos and disruption as they go; cancelling 1000’s of flights and blocking roads as temperatures plummet to bone-chilling lows. If you run a business, you could find yourself badly affected and the costs could be racking up quickly.

In a world of technology, complex business procedures and overseas outsourcing it is common for a lot of business owners, managers, CEOs and team leaders to find themselves feeling lost in a snowstorm of their own. Maybe mistakes are happening regularly, it could be that pressures are mounting as sales drop and perhaps customers are even being sent the wrong products as a result. To cut it short, the business can start to fall apart. Of course, this is a nightmare situation for any business and if you are starting to feel the pressure; creating processes could be the answer you are looking for.

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How to Attach Files to your Standard Operating Procedures

When writing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) you may need to attach files to increase the depth of the document. Traditional tools such as word editors don’t allow for this kind of functionality. But using a product like Process Street, you can certainly add files and other rich media to your Standard Operating Procedures.

Some files you might want to add could include:

  • Forms
  • Excel spreadsheet templates
  • Example documents or reports
  • Info packs to send to customers or clients

Below is a quick guide on how to add files to Process Street:

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