If you don’t have one, a standard operating procedures (SOP) manual is crucial for your business to beat the competition. That’s even more evident in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic for business.
Upheaval is the new normal for many companies coping with layoffs, furloughs and terminations.
An SOP manual is important if you’re changing to a remote staff, have employees on leave and you have to do their work, hiring temporary employees or when you’re onboarding permanent workers.
With a step-by-step guide, your staff will know exactly how to perform any task timely and efficiently — not only now but in the years ahead.
SOPs will promote communication, consistency and higher performance.
So, an up-to-date SOP manual will give you stability in any situation.
Don’t allow for errant assumptions. Be as clear but thorough as possible in your SOPs.
Communication will improve with new employees, remote workers or even with employees in different departments at the same business location.
When a company has multiple locations, consumers become repeat customers when they know they can count on consistency.
Likewise in your company, when you have different employees called upon to perform a task, a standard procedure yields consistent results.
Less training costs
Your investment in training is sure to pay off in spades with a savings of money, time and resources.
An SOP manual is an excellent reference guide for employees fresh out of training.
It also serves as an excellent test. If new employees can follow the SOP manual effectively, you know you’ve nailed it.
A written SOP helps to improve your processes. Completion of a task in following a set of procedures will give you and your employees an opportunity for evaluation of your processes.
You might decide to change the procedures or even to adjust policies temporarily in crisis situations. When situations return to normal, you can go back to the original set of procedures.
When every employee follows the same procedures, time is not wasted.
It will also reduce stress and improve accountability.
SOPs will make tasks clearer so employees will be efficient. There’s no reason to worry about quality.
However, should quality suffer, you’ll know which part or parts of the processes need to be adjusted.
Topics for typical SOP manuals
Include the following:
- Definition of terms
- Participating departments and employees
- Applicable reference materials
But there’s more to it to make sure everyone understands the procedures. Not every person will have your background and expertise.
Subjects for filing purposes
Again, don’t allow for errant assumptions.
To label the subject for an SOP, make certain to use keyword phrases and not just a keyword . Be specific as possible.
Archiving process descriptions
Your individual SOPs should be stored on F: drives, not your main C: drive – a secondary storage device such as a flash drive.
Name the project’s archive with subheadings – the project’s current status perhaps followed by new, old and ongoing.
For easy clarity, use bullet points for subdivisions and boldface the salient points.
Understanding the reasoning behind concepts
Employees will do a better job, if you explain the logic or why they should follow certain procedures. In addition, they might offer an idea for a better way to explain the procedures.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are more tips to improve your operations:
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Vital Cybersecurity: Your Remote Staff in COVID-19 Crisis – With more people working at home during the day, Internet usage has exploded. So have cyber threats, according to published reports. Here are important tips.
Guidelines to Meet FLSA Responsibilities for Remote Workers – As an employer, you have a myriad of responsibilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA ) for exempt and nonexempt workers who work at home.
Is New Managing Approach Needed for Your Remote Staff? – If your company is relying on remote workers as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, you might need to be more astute in managing your staff. Here’s why and what you can do.
10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook – Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.
“Good managers have a bias for action.”