“Oh that’s what an SOP is, I thought it had to be this super long and scary word document”
Word by word what a recent VIP day client said as we worked through her recurring tasks and build out some SOPS for her business so that she could provide more streamlined experiences for her clients and save herself the headache of explaining it all 100x over to her team.
Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs as we like to call them) are specific to your business and they describe the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with best practice for running your business. Any document that is a “how-to” falls into the category of an SOP. They can be videos, documents, live tasks within your PM tool, or a combination of all of the above to ensure that they are complete and easy to use
When you’re building them out- here are some simple tips:
1- Do a gap analysis of what is currently missing.
It comes down to these 3 questions:
- Where are you now? – Your business state at present. Your profits rate, how much of your initial goals you’re achieving on average, the pace of your growth, etc. Money or otherwise, focus on the aspects integral to your operations.
- Where do you wish you were? – Your envisioned future in numbers. Your end goal and every milestone before it.
- How much gap is there and how do you bridge it? – No matter how huge the gap is, you can’t take it on in one fell swoop. Break things down and prioritize. Among what you lack, understand what the current priority is – AKA the “leaky bucket” parts andget to work on that first. ⠀
The moment you figure out those three is a good time to ask, “Why is there a gap in the first place?”
Your team might need more training, maybe you need to let go of other responsibilities, or you need your desired company culture reinforced. Figure it out – and work from there.
Most importantly, clearly divide the gap-bridging responsibility among your team. The strategy for achieving each member’s goal should go into your SOP.
Ensure a steady gain on that gap – set deadlines. Mark those milestones clearly and put them where everyone can see.
2. Analyze your tasks
What needs to be standardized? Typically, only tasks with a clear business requirement need to be formalized.
Scrutinize your company habits, how you do things. Identify which habits are enforced by company culture and which ones need to be included in your SOP. Observe your daily business processes to check for patterns. Check your gap analysis and weed out patterns that don’t benefit gap-bridging goals. Then, improvise and combine what is left with your desired principles – and voila!
Make the format work for you.
Suggestion: Go online. It’s easier and more disaster-proof.
Plus, you can incorporate videos, charts, and anything helpful to making your SOP easier to digest. It’s also more economic to update your SOP’s online rather than having to print it out every time.
I would always advise going with a good google- doc first so that you have a written process down! You can include images and how-to videos within this and then use this as a basis to create a live step by step task format with your PM tool. At least if you have it down on virtual paper, you have a document that you can refer back to improve over time.
Distribute your SOP amongst your team ASAP. You and your team can never be too prepared – and you need to prep fast if you wanna get sh!t done in time.
Remember: your SOP is your company bible. So, use an active voice to effectively command all who read it to “go forth and make (in this case, profits, not) disciples!”
Allow your SOP to help foster great company culture and vice versa.
Store it somewhere easy to find such as airtable or your PM tool such as ClickUp so that you can keep on referring back to it.
This phase is ongoing since there is always room for improvement within the processes of our business – as long as you stay in perpetual motion.
So many things can cause your SOP to change. Expansions such as new products and new clients bring updates and changes. Market trends and revised industry regulations are natural reasons for SOP adjustment as well.
A well-made SOP is one that evolves in parallel proportion with your business. Later, refine your SOP by inviting a 3rd party professional or two to scrutinize it. Show off your strengths and be positively receptive when discussing your weaknesses.
Having processes within your businesses is the fast track way to having your team operating efficiently and like a well-oiled machine! If you want to see a real-life example of one of my own SOPs- click here