Being a manager isn't easy.
Apart from managing a team and ensuring that it contributes to the overall growth of a company, you are also juggling between training new hires, creating work schedules, interviewing potential candidates, providing mentorship, and overseeing competing priorities — all fighting for your attention, not add the unexpected problems you would need to solve as they happen.
This is where smartness comes into play. Smart managers know to train employees to be able to execute tasks without handholding them. Being a manager isn't just about giving others and walking away. You have to do the work of training your team to be the best at their jobs. When they are at their best, it’s easy to delegate responsibilities without fear of underperformance.
Smart managers know that they must explain routine responsibilities that may or may not seem obvious to them to tier employees. Additionally, they know the importance of equipping their team members with the right tools and resources needed to get their jobs done. It’s non-negotiable!
The best way to promote employee autonomy, allow them to enjoy doing what they do and guarantee consistent results is to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs). While everyone might want to do the right thing, we both know that everyone’s version of doing that right thing would be absolutely different. This means that how a task is completed would differ based on the person assigned to handle it.
What are SOPs?
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are documented processes that a company must have in place to ensure the consistency of products and services delivered EVERY TIME.
Typically, SOPs are created to comply with industry regulations, company internal standards, operational practices, and to document how specific tasks must be completed in an organization.
Often, when a company is in its infancy, the CEO or management team are usually the ones to make all internal decisions. However, as the company begins to scale, this decision-making process can “shoot the company in the foot” and hinder its capacity to grow.
Scaling a business isn’t an easy feat; hence, the company’s CEO or leadership team wouldn't have the time to make all decisions or become involved in every facet of the business. In this situation, this is where SOPs come in swooping like knights on chariots, with swords raised to protect your company (no killing is necessary, haha). SOPs would typically take over and act as an effective way to communicate changes in the way the business is run to employees.
It’s also important to note that the requirements for SOPs and their formats would vary based on industries. For example, creative organizations could use flowchart SOP formats as instructional guides compared to biotech or clinical details where requirements are precise to the T. SOP requirements can also differ based on the changes in your organization, the purpose of the SOP, or the industry regulations governing your business.
📌 Recommended reading: How to Know if You Need SOPs or Work Instructions
What are the benefits of SOPs?
Providing structure and organization is one of the best ways for a business to succeed. One of such is Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) — they can do anything ranging from training new employees to improving consistency and productivity levels, improving important operational processes, and even delivering exceptional customer service.
1. Produce reliable results
Consistency is the most important benefit of creating SOPs since it’s the key to running a successful business. After all, a company might offer different products or services; however, they need to ensure that all offerings delivered to customers are consistent in terms of quality to keep them happy.
With SOPs, the entire organization is following a standardized procedure that produces consistent results and leaves room for little to no error. If employees are performing their responsibilities in different ways deemed best for them, the probability of making mistakes, forgetting major steps, and reducing the quality of production is higher.
Thanks to an SOP, you’re setting up your organization for success. You’re creating a culture of guaranteed reliability, quality control, and stakeholder safety. Additionally, for organizations with multiple outlets across a wider geography, SOPs ensure consistency in all of their operations and clearly cements brand recall in the consumers’ minds.
2. Maintain consistency across your brand
Think about it… You’ve worked so hard to ensure the company’s brand is perceived in a particular way (positively, of course). The organization has invested time, energy, and resources in getting its personality, look, feel, and tone right. It’s important to protect the hard work done and investment made by creating and establishing a set of rules that would act as branding standards. Some variables you would want to cover include:
- Policies for employee social media usage.
- Use of company customized logos, colors and taglines in all marketing materials.
- A style guide to ensure uniformity in all published written communications.
- Guidelines for email formatting and signatures.
- Rules for speaking to the media or any third party.
3. Improve quality assurance & safety
Well-written and thorough SOPs enable employees to understand the company’s expected standards and results at each stage of any given task. For example, paying attention to detail during the manufacturing process is important to making top-notch products. For example, imagine that workers do not pay extra attention when producing cars or airplanes or conduct quality control before it is released. Your guess is as good as ours: Not only would it endanger consumer lives, but also drive the company to financial ruin.
This clearly shows that meeting quality standards isn't only important for exceptional customer experience, but for safety too. Plant Engineering’s 2019 Facility Maintenance Report showed that 12% of unplanned downtime was caused by operator error and that four out of ten facilities upgrade their equipment and improve/increase training.
What does this mean?
It means that detailed instructions have a higher chance of reducing the chances of human errors that can result in safety hazards, equipment downtime, and the production of inferior products.
This is why all businesses are mandated to conform to third-party industry standards. The International Organization, for example, publishes documented standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AND ISO 27001 to serve multiple industries.
4. Standardize customer service
What would happen if a customer complained about a product or service, but your customer success team representative didn't know the right thing to say? Or know how to resolve the issue? There’s a high chance of losing that customer and potential referrals that could come from that dissatisfied customer (One-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.).
This is why attracting a new customer is up to nine times more expensive than retaining a current one, and about one in three people (30 percent) say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent.
Companies without SOPs would find that their customer service experience is subpar every time they need to solve a customer complaint or when customers have to speak to multiple personnel over resolving just one issue. And for customers? 72 percent of them believe having to explain their problem to multiple people is poor customer service.
Customers want to work with companies that are reliable and not those that wouldn’t follow up with an angry customer because there are no standardized procedures about proper follow-up times or how to let customers know about new customer service inquiries and policies.
SOPs not only give the right results to your customers via customer service, but it also ensures that the customer service team is doing the right thing for your customers.
5. Improves efficiency
Imagine wanting to make a critical business decision, only to be delayed by a simple question on how to do something or perform a particular task. Pitiful and tiring, right? You bet!
A contract might not get signed because an employee doesn't know who has the final say. An organization’s purchasing department might not know to whom to send budgets and invoices to for approval. The same goes for an organization losing out on talented candidates because an HR employee doesn't know who gives the final approval for salaries for new employees. SOPs set up Human Resources and other departments are set up for success.
This is where the benefits of SOPs come in. SOPs can remove a lot of guesswork and questions that can slow down an organization’s decision-making process. When there’s a defined SOP for the company’s most important tasks, the organization moves like a well-oiled machine and it also makes it easier for employees to get things done, whether it’s their first or umpteenth time.
Luckily for you, if you’ve been thinking of how to speed up your SOP process, Scribe does your documenting for you. Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that captures your workflow to create a visual SOP. Document and socialize best practices in seconds.
6. Helps to transfer work easily
Most employees take a sick day here and there or even a PTO. However, what happens in the case of an extended absence, especially if there isn’t an SOP in place? Chaos happens…In its purest form.
SOPs make it easier to transform work to another employee. Comprehensively explaining how a task or project should be completed ensures that any employee can complete activities with little to no supervision.
7. Serves as a checklist to reinforce proper performance
Caring about fellow workers while carrying out their duties involves one worker teaching another about all the aspects of great job performance. SOPs lend their benefits because a colleague can coach and help a fellow colleague on how to get things done and improve their work skills.
8. Meet legal requirements
Depending on the industry your company belongs to, SOPs might be required to protect your employees and even customers — and ensure that the company wouldn't be held responsible for anything wrong, in the face of litigation.
Why do you need SOPs in your organization?
It’s also important to note that a standard operating procedure is different from policies and procedures. While SOPs lean more towards a standardized way to get things done within an organization, policies and processes give employees more leeway to improvise. As a result, policies and procedures can generate the possibility of producing standardized products or services, but an SOP guarantees that a product or service is produced the same way, every time.
SOPs, in their truest forms, support the right people in the right environment to do the right thing (including at the right time). SOPs are there to not only help your business evaluate its current processes, but also determine its future actions. For example, if your organization is looking to implement a new employee collaboration software, this is a brief rundown of what your thought process would look like.
Determining what collaboration software to buy would involve knowing how employees would use the software and its effect on the business’s processes. If you have a comprehensive, existing SOP, it’s easier to use them to evaluate the proposed new software’s strengths and weaknesses.
Fully understanding your company’s current operational processes would help you make the best decisions for the organization.
Standard operating procedures, at a minimum, offer the following benefits:
SOPs help with communication
One of the major benefits of SOPs is the clarity and communication it brings to your operational systems. With SOPs and periodic operating procedures updates, it makes it easier to communicate process changes to employees.
SOPs support consistency
The number one benefit of SOPs is the consistency it brings to the way people in an organization perform tasks. The more consistent a process is carried out, irrespective of the assignee, the less chance of delivering substandard products or services to customers.
SOPs minimize errors
SOPs are a detailed set of instructions crafted for carrying out a specific task. As long as your team members perform tasks or activities based on how it is documented in the SOP, there’s little to no chance of making errors (plus those that could cost the company gravely).
This article will answer the question, “What are the benefits of using standard operating procedures” in an organization? We’ll explain the biggest advantages of implementing SOPs in your organization.
Wrapping up: the top benefits of SOPs
We hope that you enjoyed learning about the benefits of SOPs. They can benefit your business more than you can imagine. Any tool or process that can help increase productivity, increase employee safety, standardize customer service, improve efficiency and improve employee training and management is something a forward-thinking organization should invest in. The return on investment (ROI) is worth it!