Oooooh yay, paperwork! …said no one ever.
Doing paperwork and getting organised is seldom anyone’s favourite part of running a business.
So, wouldn’t it be nice if you could spend less time on the nitty-gritty details and just stick to the fun parts of the job? What if we told you there is a way to make your business run more efficiently, consistently, and cost-effectively?
Got your attention? The key is…
Systems, processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs)!
Okay, maybe this doesn’t sound like the sexy answer you were looking for. But the truth is, investing your time and energy into getting this side of the business running smoothly will massively pay off in the long run.
A successful business is an organised business, and standard operating procedures are an excellent way to get organised. Whether you have a small team or an army of employees, SOPs are essential. They are also not as tedious and complicated as they may sound.
Bear with us, read on, and discover why you should get your business’s standard operating procedures in place sooner rather than later.
What Is A Standard Operating Procedure?
Before you can implement them, you have to know what they are! Simply put, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a clearly documented, step-by-step guide to handling a routine task in your business. It’s your basic “how-to” for anything that regularly occurs as part of operations.
For example, you may have an SOP for responding to customer enquiries or complaints, onboarding new clients, or posting to social media. An SOP goes through precisely what a team member should do and how they should do it. The process should be clear enough that even someone who hasn’t done the task before can accomplish it.
So, now that you know what an SOP is, let’s explore how they can help your business.
How Can SOPs Help My Business?
Consistency is key in running a business. Your customers and clients want to know what to expect when they communicate or interact with you. They will also come to expect a certain standard.
Because everybody is different, your team members may have slightly different ways of approaching things. Or, they may have varied expectations of what “quality” looks like. Providing standard operating procedures ensures everyone knows what is expected and how to achieve it.
That way, you can be sure anyone in your business will always provide a consistently high level of quality in products, services and customer engagements.
Mistakes will happen in business, but a lot you can prevent. Written procedures help ensure that things are done correctly every time. This is especially true of tasks that are done infrequently, or if someone has forgotten their training. They can simply refer to the SOP to refresh their memory and do it correctly every time.
Improve Productivity And Save Time
Some team members will perform a task in the way that it has always been done. or, someone new to the team may not understand the best way to do things. Which is where your SOPs can help.
Your standard operating procedure for a given task will ideally be the most efficient way of doing said task. By requiring your entire team to follow that process, you make sure everyone is being as productive as possible.
Also, the more confident people are in doing something, the faster they will be able to do it. Arming them with a tried and true method will give them confidence. Building skills helps your team work quickly and accurately. Fewer errors mean less time fixing mistakes!
Boost Safety And Compliance
Every employer is required to ensure a safe working environment, whether you’re on a building site, in a restaurant or an office. As well as your Health and Safety procedures, SOPs outline safe working procedures to keep everyone safe and help you comply with those health and safety regulations.
Speed Up Training
Having detailed SOPs ready to go can save time and energy when training new employees on specific tasks. It also makes the onboarding process smoother for both the trainer and the trainee. If you are able to hand your new team member a collection of SOPs for their role then they can focus on the training process, rather than trying to scribble down notes.
It will also help them work autonomously a lot quicker as they have the written procedures to refer to. They won’t constantly have to ask questions for clarification. Instead, they will have a clear picture of how often certain tasks are done, what is involved, and what their responsibilities are.
Make Outsourcing And Delegating Easy
Have a regular job that you do in-house that you want to outsource or delegate? If you know it’s already working perfectly thanks to a standard operating procedure, you can simply pass this SOP on to a virtual assistant or new employee for them to follow. Then you can focus on more growth-oriented business jobs!
This is also super handy for continuity. If a key team member is absent, the SOP can be handed to someone else to help them get the job done.
How Do You Create An SOP?
It may seem overwhelming when you consider the number of processes that you need to document. But you don’t have to do it all in one day, take it one task at a time.
To get started, choose something that occurs regularly in your business, maybe it is updating the website or scheduling an appointment for a customer. Jot down the steps required to complete the process.
Type it up, and voila! You have your first SOP. You can use whatever format you desire, although there are specific online tools that provide you with templates and ideas to get you started if needed.
Make a note to repeat this process every time that you complete a task that hasn’t been documented yet. It is easiest to write notes as you are doing the task so that you don’t miss any steps.
If you prefer a more digital approach, you can create a video of yourself completing the task, explaining each step as you go. The great thing is that you don’t need fancy technology to do this. Complete mini-tutorials with the free online resource Loom. It records your screen and commentary as you go. Then simply download the file or share the video with the relevant people in your team.
Standard operating procedures are beneficial to any business, even if you’re just launching as a one-person startup. They help you get organised, stay consistent, and keep you and your team on track and on the same page.
If you are stuck with getting your SOPs underway, then drop us a line here at Admin Army. That is just one of the things we can help you with to streamline your business and make it more efficient.