What if one of your employees never showed up to work again? What if YOU could never work again? What would happen in the short term and long term?

Don’t like your answers to these questions? This is why it is vital to have documentation of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

An essential part of operations

Creating SOPs is a great way for businesses to keep a record of what and how work is actually being done. It is a way to make sure that if one person left the team unexpectedly, another employee could jump in and do the job with minimal downtime. It is also used to ensure proper procedures are being followed to reduce errors, risks, lawsuits, time and money.

Does a written procedure for everything sounds like a ridiculous and lengthy task? Yes it is time consuming, but like I said, it can save a small business a lot of time, money, and headaches later on.

 Whose job is it?

ALL MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES.

HR can certainly help with the formality and the process of creating SOPs for a small company, but it is up to each division or role within the company to create and keep these documents CURRENT.

Keeping it Current

Do your employees do exactly the same thing the same way as the day the company started? Probably not!  Each role is modified to fit business needs as a business grows or implements change.

In order to prepare for the inevitable loss of an employee (voluntarily or involuntarily) and hold employees accountable for following proper procedures, you MUST keep written step by step procedures current. This does not just mean day to day tasks. Monthly, quarterly, biannually, and annually tasks are extremely important to document as they are not done frequently and can be forgotten.

How to do it?

  1. Pick a task.
  2. Explain the Purpose of the task briefly.
  3. Clarify the scope of the task to include the policy, rules or regulations that are related to the task.
  4. Define who is responsible for doing the task.
  5. Describe the step by step procedure.
  6. Provide any references that can help the person complete the process or gain more information.
  7. Review and verify it makes sense.
  8. Save it on a shared drive or a place that can be accessed by management and relevant employees.
  9. Pick a timeframe that is acceptable for your company to review all SOPs (quarterly, biannually, or annually).

What now?

Management should hold employees accountable for following the step by step procedures and keeping these procedures up to date. The SOPs should also be used as a guideline for training new employees. I said GUIDELINE for training. This does not mean that reading SOPs takes the place of face to face or hands on training.

When you create and maintain a set of SOPs, you are preparing your company for the unexpected and setting your current and future employees for success. So suck it up and take the time to do it right. You will be thankful later!