SOP: The Need to Standardize Processes in Business
Today’s business world is gradually becoming more competitive, and all companies are compelled to produce high-quality products and services.
As such, all the operations that take place within a company have to be constantly controlled to reduce the number of defects in their products. A reduction of errors denotes a quality improvement, and this quality improvement leads to customer satisfaction which can generate profits.
The Standard Operating Procedure, better known as SOP, is the component of an effective management system that lies in quality control and quality assurance, facilitating error prevention, communicating process standardization and transferring skills.
What is SOP?
SOP definitions may vary from one organization to another. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SOP is a set of written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity followed by an organization to facilitate consistency in the quality of all products.
Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines SOP as a document which describes the regularly recurring operations relevant to the quality of the investigation.
Generally speaking, SOP can be perceived as a set of detailed documents that specify activities necessary to complete tasks in order to meet quality standards.
Why is SOP important?
Companies looking to provide the best for their customers should follow a set of instructions to ensure they come up with the highest quality products or services. In this context, SOP aggregates and simplifies corporate policies, government regulations, and best practices.
SOPs also act as useful tools to communicate these aspects. In addition, established procedures in the working environment encourage increased confidence in employees because they follow the underlying regulations, implementing best practices when making products. By having standardized processes in the organization, errors are more likely to be minimized.
What are the benefits of SOPs?
A lot of values can be obtained by having standard operating procedures in the organization. Here are several benefits offered by SOPs:
- Clear written instructions will always be the first thing employees will turn to, in order to make sure that they are performing their tasks properly;
- As errors are minimized, SOPs will further lead to fewer corrective actions;
- Define the personality of an organization by consistently providing customers with high quality products or services;
- Implement a healthy and safe working environment;
- Provide an efficient working process by cutting down mistakes, which in turn, leads to an increase in profitability;
- Facilitate a fast integration of tasks within the training process of new employees;
- The more specific the SOPs are, the more fine-tuned the products will be;
- Mitigate risks by becoming a quick reference guide for employees in certain situations.
SOPs can offer many more benefits to an organization and the above-stated ones represent just a small fraction.
How to get started with SOP development?
Establishing and developing SOPs can be stressing at times, but the values added by having SOPs are worth the effort. So, how can you get started with SOPs? Below you can find several tips on how to start developing SOPs:
- Clarify the organization’s workflow. It is important to make sure that the necessary steps have been taken.
- Write concise and easy to understand procedures for employees.
- SOPs should provide adequate information to maintain performance.
- Communicate the finalized SOPs to the entire staff. This step might also require a training session to make sure that employees are capable of following instructions.
In conclusion, all organizations that implement SOPs will be more efficient and will notice an improvement of their operations. What is more, SOPs help management communicate standards by serving as a guide for all employees.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve your management operations, so that production processes are always optimized, check out our Production and Quality Management KPI Dictionary, as well as our online repository, smartKPIs.org, where you will be able to find an abundance of KPIs for your operational and production needs.