SOPs, more formally known as standard operating procedures, are documented practices designed to ensure consistency in business practices and operations. Many people think of SOPs as only applicable in hands-on laboratory and manufacturing contexts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the main goals of SOPs is mandating how equipment is maintained, adjusted and used. However, SOPs can also cover more analytical processes, meaning that they can be applied in a variety of business contexts.
Health and Safety
Standard operating procedures maintain the health and safety of all workers. Especially in manufacturing settings where heavy equipment is involved, SOPs can help ensure that employees operate equipment to prevent injuries. SOPs can mandate regular cleaning and maintenance schedules. These activities are important for safe operation of machinery, but are easily forgotten when employees are switching shifts and no written records exist. SOPs also show how to run equipment safely during regular use. A document from Iowa State University suggests using diagrams along with words to make instructions crystal clear.
Consistency of Results
In laboratory settings, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that following rules set by regulatory bodies isn't always enough. Workers sometimes make slight changes to standard procedure based on the more specific requirements of a particular experiment. When these changes aren't documented, experimental results may differ between teams of technicians using slightly different methods. Writing standard operating procedures specific to your company's line of business ensures that everyone's working the same way, limiting the cost of additional trials to explain inconsistent results.
Regulatory and Legal Compliance
Writing a standard operating procedure with a regulatory body's requirements in mind ensures that practices at your organization line up with industry expectations. Documented procedures help to streamline internal and external audits as well. For example, if your company maintains ISO certification, you can assist outside auditors by providing written copies of your ISO-compliant procedures. They can then advise you where exactly in the process workers are falling short. SOPs also protect you from lawsuits -- for example, if an employee is injured at work after failing to follow documented best practices. SOPs in office settings can also ensure legal compliance. For example, an SOP for negotiating business deals overseas can stop executives from stepping into illegal bribery territory.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
People need consistency to be their most productive. When there's no doubt about what format a document should take, whether equipment should be cleaned and where supplies should be stored, people can simply do their jobs without stopping to ask questions. Standardizing everything is impossible and counterproductive, as employees need some flexibility to problem solve. However, writing SOPs for regular, rote procedures can increase efficiency at work. For example, an SOP for file naming can reduce the time required to find documents and promote teamwork across departments.
- Environmental Protection Agency; Guidance for Preparing Standard Operating Procedures; April 2007
- Iowa State University: Dairy Farm Standard Operating Procedures -- a Writing Guide
- Leanmanufacture.net: Standard Operating Procedures -- SOP
- Environmental Protection Agency: Frequent Questions -- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- Cornell University; Developing Effective Standard Operating Procedures; David Grusenmeyer
- BNET; How to Ensure Your Company Doesn't Break Federal Anti-Bribery Law; Alain Sherter; March 2011
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
What Is the Purpose of an SOP?
Standard Operating Procedures (referred to as SOPs) ... What Are the Benefits of SOPs? How to Write Standard Operating Procedures. How to...
What Are Standard Operating Procedures?
What Are Standard Operating Procedures?. ... The standardizing of operating procedures acts as a benefit to both the employee and the manager/owner.
What Does SOP Stand for in Accounting?
Accounting rules are key tools that regulators and financial market players use to evaluate the economic soundness of companies. Without appropriate and...
What Are the Benefits of Policies & Procedures?
Policies are rules, principles and guidelines an organization’s management adopts to reach its long-term goals, according to the businessdirectory.com website. They ...
How to Make Soursop Juice
The soursop tree (Annona muricata) is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America and can be found in...
Standard Operating Procedure for Hotels
According to HVS, a consulting and service organization that focuses on the hotel and leisure industry, standard operating procedures benefit hotels in...
Examples of SOP for MBA
An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a master's degree that introduces students to multiple facets of business such as marketing, human...
Standard Operating Procedures Training
Standard operating procedures (SOP) provide formal instruction for how tasks should be conducted and outcomes achieved. ... What Are the Benefits of...
How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure
Operations Management; ... Standard Operating Procedures (referred to as SOPs) ... Likewise, new employees to an... How to Document a SOP.
Soursop Cancer Cures
Properties and Benefits of Graviola. Graviola is also called a custard apple or soursop Custard Apple fruit isolated image by Edward Westmacott...
What Are the Benefits of HR Policies?
Many companies have written procedures for handling employee complaints, whether they are internal, informal complaints or allegations made about the employer to...
Standard Operating Procedures in Human Resources
Standard Operating Procedures in Human Resources. ... managing benefits, and defining a company's policies and culture. The HR department has several roles,...
How to Create an SOP Template
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a popular way of providing consistent guidance to employees within an organization. Ideally, if you grab someone...