What is an SOP Manual and Why Your Business Should Have One


While your business may have general instructions employees can reference to complete daily tasks on the job, does your business have an SOP? An SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) clarifies specific actions and procedures to complete various jobs at work. It can also protect you and your employees during a crisis and provides instructions about what to do in case irregular situations arise. Here are a few insights about what a Standard Operating Procedure manual is, and why your business needs one.


What is an SOP Manual?

An SOP is a document that explains and educates employees about how to successfully and safely execute a certain work function. Therefore, an SOP manual is an accumulation of many individual procedural instructions employees can study and refer to if questions arise about performing any particular task at work.  Individual SOP documents should provide clear, step-by-step instructions, as well as safety precautions and troubleshooting tips in case an employee experiences difficulties while executing a task on the job.


Why Your Business Needs an SOP Manual

The reasons your business should have a thorough SOP manual are virtually endless. From safety to compliance, an SOP can save you and your business a lot of time, money and even help improve health and safety on the job.  Here are the top reasons why your business can benefit from an SOP manual.

Unified Vision: The process of creating an SOP manual for your business has a way of clarifying your business vision, goals, and objectives.  Creating instructions for individual tasks that need to be performed in your business makes you more aware and more familiar with each detail of your business operations.  Furthermore, a centralized SOP manual accessible to all employees equips everyone with a clear focus about how things are done, and what is expected for each function on the job.

Consistent Results:  An SOP manual gets everybody on the same page, literally.  When all members of your staff are referring to the same procedural guides, then your business is more likely to achieve consistent results. Without an SOP, employees may take different approaches to complete job functions. Multiple work practices lead to confusion and inconsistencies, which costs your business time and money.

Reduces Errors: Having a reference manual for employees not only provides consistency in work performance, but it also reduces costly mistakes on the job.  Thorough and concise instructions as found in SOP documents can help your business avoid substandard or unwanted practices when performing work tasks.  When all employees are executing instructions properly, your business is safeguarded against errors and helps ensure quality control.

Saves Money: As explained, an SOP manual encourages safety, consistency and helps reduce mistakes on the job.  The culmination of all these benefits means your business is saving money.  Almost every business owner is either aware of or has the first-hand experience with how devastating mistakes can be to the livelihood of their business.  One mistake can create crippling setbacks in production or even lawsuits in case of employee injury due to accidents on the job.  An SOP manual greatly reduces unnecessary expenses caused by confusion or unsound employee practices.

Compliance: Not only is creating an SOP manual a smart move for your business but it may also be required to obtain an OSHA safety certification. Depending upon your industry and state or federal regulations for your business, an SOP could be mandatory to ensure the safety and protection of your employees.


Putting it All Together: Closing Thoughts About Creating an SOP Manual

Creating a Standard Operating Procedure manual may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many SOP templates online that make the job much more simple and less overwhelming.

Whether you opt to use templates or start from scratch, remember the basics of writing an SOP by including the title (name of the task) and an introduction that explains the scope of the procedure. Write clear, step-by-step directions, and include safety instructions in the event something goes afoul with the task being performed. Also, think about adding illustrations for each step of the work function for easier comprehension.  You may also want to include a contact number of a manager in case there are additional questions about a particular task. 

However you go about creating your Standard Operating Procedures, one fact is clear, an SOP manual is an essential asset to keep your business and your employees clear, compliant and safe while working within your company.