TOT 007:

Efficient Documentation: SOP Template

John Barker
Sept 3, 2023
Read Time: 3 Minutes 30 seconds

TLDR: Click Here to Download a PDF Version of the SOP Template

Mastering Standard Operating Procedures

In the world of business, efficiency and consistency are key to success. Clients want to know they will receive the same top-notch service and product every time. That’s where Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) come into play. These documents serve as the backbone of any mature organization. You execute SOP tasks consistently and efficiently.

You may believe that SOPs take away your creative freedom. A good SOP will improve the quality and consistency of your work. It frees your mind to work on more difficult tasks. It enables you to delegate more work.
SOPs are invaluable during new hire training. New employees grasp their jobs faster. They learn how to correctly perform tasks. SOPs reduce the learning curve. They ensure new team members become productive quickly.

Guidelines for Crafting Effective SOPs

Creating high-quality SOPs requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting excellent SOPs.

1. Identify the Process

Begin by identifying the specific process or task for which you need to create an SOP. This could range from IT requirements for new hires to IT customer service protocols.

2. Gather Expertise

Collaborate with subject matter experts within your organization. Experts will provide valuable insights. Experts ensure that the SOP reflects current best practices.

3. Document the Steps

Outline each step involved in the process. Use easy-to-understand terms. Consider including visual aids, such as diagrams, to enhance understanding.

4. Include Troubleshooting and FAQs

Prepare for common issues that may arise during the process and provide solutions in the SOP. Additionally, include a section for frequently asked questions to address any questions.

5. Review and Approval

Ensure that the SOP undergoes a thorough review from other stakeholders. Have the final decision maker sign off on the final SOP. This helps maintain accuracy and compliance. This shifts the burden of the process to a decision-maker.

6. Regular Updates

SOPs should not be static documents. Review and update SOPs to incorporate any process improvements. Be aware of any changes in industry standards

Here are the Core Components of a Standard Operating Procedure

1. Header with Title
a. Give the SOP a # (part of a larger manual or group of SOPs)
b. Include Date of First Draft
c. Current Revision Date
d. Number of Pages

2. Purpose
a. What is the Purpose of this specific SOP
b. What is the primary area or scope that this SOP covers

3. Responsibilities
a. Who is responsible for maintaining the SOP
b. Who is responsible for performing the tasks of the SOP
c. NOTE: Do not put specific people in the document. List the title or name of the role of the person responsible

4. Requirements
a. What are the requirements (results) that the SOP covers

5. Definitions
a. Include any technical terms or acronyms that need clarifying
b. Include any corporate-specific terms or acronyms that need clarifying

6. Documentation information
a. If part of a larger manual include references back to Master document
b. Include SOPS that typically precede or follow after completion of this SOP

7. Method
a. The steps to complete the tasks in the SOP
i. Written steps
ii. Sample screenshots
iii. Workflow diagrams
iv. Log files
v. Other support documents

8. References
a. Include any references to help the execution of the SOP
i. This includes links to Vendor-specific documentation

9. Revision History
a. Change control section for updates to the SOP
b. Include date
c. Include step that was changed
d. Include reviewed signoff
10. Approval
a. Include signature(s) of decision makers for final approval of the SOP

That’s all for this week.

See you next Sunday.


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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.