An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business. Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures. In a manufacturing environment, the most obvious example of an SOP is the step by step production line procedures used to make products as well train staff.
An SOP, in fact, defines expected practices in all businesses where quality standards exist. SOPs play an important role in your small business. SOPs are policies, procedures and standards you need in the operations, marketing and administration disciplines within your business to ensure success. These can create:
efficiencies, and therefore profitability
consistency and reliability in production and service
fewer errors in all areas
a way to resolve conflicts between partners
a healthy and safe environment
protection of employers in areas of potential liability and personnel matters
a roadmap for how to resolve issues – and the removal of emotion from troubleshooting – allowing needed focus on solving the problem
a first line of defense in any inspection, whether it be by a regulatory body, a partner or potential partner, a client, or a firm conducting due diligence for a possible purchase
value added to your business should you ever wish to sell it
Developing an SOP is about systemizing all of your processes and documenting them. Every business has a unique market, every entrepreneur has his/her own leadership style, and every industry has its own best practices. No two businesses will have an identical collection of SOPs.