One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is to ensure that all the parts of it are in sync with each other. To keep these parts moving and in sync, businesses should have a set of procedures for their employees to perform routine tasks or any standard tasks.
A business with no proper set of documentation or procedure is more likely to crumble and face deadline woes!
For instance, a car manufacturing company needs to perform various routine checks and tests and fine-tune to generate maximum efficiency.
And that’s where standard operating procedures (SOP) enter.
Do not confuse SOP with the employee’s rulebook or workflow procedures. Instead, the SOPs lay down a step-by-step guide to performing the tasks to boost efficiency and reduce organizational ambiguity.
While the objective of the SOPs remains intact, the templates and the steps differ depending on the organization’s size and the industry. That’s why we have created a list of the best SOP templates for businesses of all sizes.
Why Are SOPs Important?
SOPs are the backbone of an efficient workflow in an organization. A detailed SOP acts as a standing instruction for the employees and sets out their expectations.
Let’s delve deeper into the benefits of SOPs:
#1. Improved Onboarding
Many organizations use SOPs to speed up and improve the onboarding process. Right from the first day, the employees are inherited with powerful and detailed procedures to perform their routine tasks.
This results in better productivity and helps team leaders and managers assess each of their new employees.
#2. Maintains Organizational Consistency
A uniform statement of procedure accounts for organizational consistency and keeps all the team members and employees on the same page.
When each of the employees has a clear understanding of who they should report to and what steps they should take next in a hierarchical manner, there are fewer chances of things going south.
#3. Understanding of Best Practices
The repetition and revision of the tasks written in a document provide a better understanding of the best practices of routine tasks in a department.
Though the SOPs are just suggestions, they can turn into rewarding step-by-step guides providing deep insights into how a task should be done that accustoms to the stakeholders’ requirements.
#4. Save On Training
SOPs can save thousands, if not millions, to the organization. The cost of training the existing as well as the new employees can be minimized by incorporating the SOP templates into their training kits.
Also, significant or small changes in an organization, like retirements, promotions, or resignations, should not affect the workflow. SOPs set a standard process for the tasks that an employee has done in the past few years.
#5. Maintains Work Quality
To avoid the initial hiccups, SOPs prove to be a lifesaver. Whenever an existing employee leaves and a new employee joins, SOPs hold each individual accountable for the tasks they need to do and what path they should take to achieve maximum efficiency.
How to Create Standard Operating Procedures?
Creating detailed and clear SOPs may be time-consuming and not a cakewalk. There are a number of factors to consider while drafting the SOPs for your organization.
Here are the steps involved in creating a standard operating procedure:
Identify the purpose and tasks: Pen down the purpose of creating the SOP and what tasks you want to achieve using this. If you don’t own the day-to-day process, make sure to involve the stakeholders and the roles responsible for it.
Know your audience: Choose the audience as you take a step ahead to write your documentation. If you are writing an SOP for an audience that needs assistance 24/7, it is imperative to create documentation such that people can easily take over.
Decide the structure of SOP: The next step is to put the ideas into reality. But before you write these SOPs, choose a structure, language, and tonality of your SOP that aligns with your brand and industry.
Choose the right template: Though you can always start from scratch, there are tons of SOP templates that are built for every industry or micro-niche. SOP templates speed up the write-up process and ensure it abides by the standardized norm.
Update your SOP: It is also important to update the SOPs as the process changes from time to time. While manual updation may take time, you can use the automated or SOP software to store and update your SOPs.
Writing down the SOPs might seem tempting from the above steps. It becomes even more exciting when you have a pre-made template for it. Below, we have shared the most actionable SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) Templates for businesses that support a variety of use cases.
Smartsheet offers an extensive range of SOP templates, including various use cases such as helpdesk operations, hotel and guest SOP, warehouse SOPs, and even sanitary cleaning service SOPs.
Each of these SOPs is designed in accordance with the industry standards and the process that most teams would take to maximize efficiency.
I really like the IT Standard Operating Procedure Template by Smartsheet. The following template lays down each step and maintains a flowchart of an IT operation. It is a prerequisite to understanding compliance with rules and regulations.
This template is available in Word format and sets up a reminder to perform routine tasks that also includes document troubleshooting, security events, and setup procedures, as well as creating procedure diagrams and scheduled maintenance.
The SOP templates by ClickUp are skimmable and engaging and include every detail that your standard SOP should have. ClickUp templates are user-friendly and quick enough to implement into your standard procedure.
There are over 15 use cases that it supports, including sales, support, HR, finance, IT, designing, and whatnot.
My favorite one is the HR SOP template. Instead of using traditional Excel or manual updation, this captivating SOP template creates a checklist for all tasks. It lays down the foundation to automate repetitive tasks.
This template lists down all the responsibilities of the HR department, right from onboarding to recruitment and offboarding to other routine tasks.
A digestible yet detailed SOP for the teams to streamline their internal process and identify the problem it solves. In fact, I found each of the SOP templates by Guru quickly adaptable and skimmable that’s accustomed to even for the newbies.
The template starts with the purpose of the task and the context of creating the SOP. The second fold of the section includes ‘How To Process’, which looks much like a detailed step-by-step guide.
Guru includes various SOP templates, including product documentation, brand guidelines, change management, employee onboarding, etc. You can check out the list of templates here.
The next on the list is a digestible standard template by Scribehow. Their SOP guarantees consistency and quality in operations to ensure your team complies with the regulatory and legal requirements.
If you want to create an easy-to-skim template, Scribehow’s SOP template is the right choice to start.
The template starts with the Title, followed by the version and effective version date. The table of content makes it really easy to jump to any of the sections.
Upon further scrolling, users can get the details of the tasks, including the purpose, scope of the document, and responsibilities. Next, the template includes the How-to process, which breaks down into simple sub-steps.
The best part? Scribehow also includes the detail for each revision along with the approval date and version history.
Process.st is an AI-powered platform that offers SOP software as well as a massive library of templates. The platform gives you two types of templates; the first to create your procedures from scratch and the second to create manual procedures.
Their standard template structure is more detailed and descriptive as compared to Scribe. Most of these templates are designed keeping the ISO standard quality management system in mind.
Process.st offers 50+ free and downloadable templates that can be added to the account or downloaded for free in PDF format. You can browse the templates by categories such as content marketing, employee and client onboarding, business, construction, security, IT, operations, and others.
TemplateLAB has a wide range of SOP templates in downloadable Word format. They have SOP templates for Business processes, legal management, HR, and real estate, as well as for art and media companies.
The best part is that these SOP templates are easily editable and do not leave any task unattended. What I liked most about TemplateLAB is its simple design, yet it succeeds in covering every detail you want to include in your SOP.
For instance, this SOP for the research site covers the abbreviations and definitions of the processes involved. As you scroll down, the routine task checklist has principles, samples, equipment, reagents and solution, quality control, and waste management.
Jotform is an online form builder that covers various use cases for business plans and SOPs. Jotform offers everything right from their SOP page; i.e., you don’t need to download and edit the SOPs in Word or PDF format.
As you jump to their site, the SOP templates are shown in the form of a questionnaire you can fill out and send the template for review to the stakeholders.
After the approval, the SOPs can be downloaded in PDF format.
What I liked about Jotform is its customizable elements which you can add or remove from the SOP templates. You can also add or remove pages to add more details to the SOP.
Notion has a detailed SOP template that is designed for small businesses. However, there are no pre-made templates for a specific industry. There is only one standard template that you can put to use and make edits for your team.
Though they lack the categorization and wide range of templates, you can use them to create digestible and quick-to-read SOPs.
The first fold of the template includes the title of the procedure and the date of creation, along with the department that has created it. Next, add the context manually or embed the link in the form of PDF, Google Drive, or Maps and include the links for all the relevant docs.
You can also add industry-specific terminologies and lay down the process in steps. The best part? You can draw down the steps by embedding the video from Loom or Miro.
You can also tag or add the names of the people responsible for the tasks at each step.
Kipwise SOP templates are designed for the marketing and sales team, operations, customer support, and for HR teams. This standard template follows the same structure as most templates do.
On sign-up, you can edit the template right from the platform. The author can add or remove the task accordingly. You can also include relevant and related links, such as meeting links, resources, and guides to streamline the workflow.
SOP templates can eliminate hours of head-scratching. The flexible SOP templates need a bit of editing and customization to create documentation that makes the routine tasks exciting and quick to remember.
Scroll through these free templates and put the best one in action to empower your team.
Harshit is a freelance SEO and Content Writer with 6 years of experience. He has written for various niches but his favorite is SaaS. He has worked for various businesslike EngageBay, GoDaddy, and others. When at leisure, he likes to read up… read more