Have you heard of the term “standard operating procedure” or “SOP” and wondered what on earth it was, and why it was important to your business?
A standard operating procedure is simply the documented process of how you do something in your business. I like to refer to them as How-To Guides.
They’ll include a description of what you’re trying to do e.g. format and schedule blog posts, links to any related resources e.g. an email template, and the steps of how to do that task.
SOPs can be short or long, depending on whether the task is a simple one or more complex.
The benefits of using SOPs are that you’ll be faster, more efficient and consistent. It’s easier to delegate when you have SOPs ready to go. They’re also useful when you, or a team member, are on holiday as someone else is able to work directly from the SOP to get the task done.
Where do you store your standard operating procedures?
You can either store SOPs in your project management software, e.g. Asana, or in your filing tool, e.g. Google Drive.
Where you store your SOPs will depend on the way you like to work. Whichever option you choose, make sure you can add videos and images as they will make your SOPs easier to understand.
Some SOPs are also natural project templates, e.g. bringing on board a new team member, that you’ll be able to use as a checklist.
When it comes to documenting your processes you need to include WHAT to do and HOW to do it. This is especially important when using a project management software as often the “how” element gets lost.
Here’s an example of a step that might form part of a SOP about creating and scheduling a blog post:
What: create a featured image for the blog post
How: Log into Canva. Use the blog post template stored under Projects. Save the template out to a new graphic. Rename that new graphic with the title of the blog post. Copy the blog post title into the body of the template, using the same font style and size as the template. Download the completed featured image and store it in the folder named “Blog post graphics” in Google Drive.
Which tasks need a standard operating procedure?
Let’s face the elephant in the room shall we? The one that is whispering . . . “Do I have to do that for EVERY task? That sounds really dull and will take me forever.”
That elephant has a point. It can be a little dull documenting your processes. There is a lot of detail involved and there are other things you’d rather be doing. Yet, remember those benefits of faster, more efficient and consistent.
Imagine the next time you go to run your monthly webinar. You open up your step by step process and know that nothing will be forgotten as everything is there. And you don’t need to remember how to set the tech up again!
Imagine bringing on a new team member and having them start working right away because you can show them a folder of SOPs that are ready to go.
That is working smarter.
And no. You don’t need to document every single task. Start with the ones that you’ll use the most or the ones that you want to use to delegate to a team member.
You don’t even have to write out all of the steps. Simply record yourself the next time you do the task (Loom or Zoom are great for this). Build the habit of creating SOPs as you go.
My advice is always to start before you’re ready when it comes to documenting your processes. I see too many business owners who leave this job until they’re about to hire their first team member or worst still they expect that new team member to do this job for them!
While a VA can type out the steps from a video you’ve recorded, they’re not mind readers. They don’t know the way that YOU do things within your business. So be a great boss and start documenting your standard operating procedures now.
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