100+ Free SOP Templates: How to Write SOPs

Maddy Osman
August 16, 2022
min read
February 8, 2024
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Ready to simplify and speed up your documentation process? Look no further than these free SOP templates!
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If you don’t have well-defined standard operating procedures (SOPs), you're most likely draining resources on repeat training, struggling to create clear workflows and unintentionally impacting your team’s performance.

No matter the department or team, a lack of SOPs can directly impact operations management and create revenue leaks.  

Use 15 types of SOP templates to make your documentation fast, stress-free and simple.

Jump to a template:

TL;DR: Get over 100 free SOP templates to streamline your processes

  • SOP templates can help you train your employees, ensure consistent operations, cut down on miscommunication between teams, and set quality standards.
  • This blog provides 15 examples of SOP templates plus a gallery of 100+ SOP templates you can use to build your own.
  • There are three important SOP types: step-by-step SOPs, hierarchical SOPs and flowchart SOPs.
  • How to create an SOP for your business: we’ll walk you through the five key steps to write an SOP.

What is an SOP template?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) template gives you a ready-to-use layout to document any workflow or task.

A good SOP template gives you clear directions about what to include and a customizable structure to document multiple complex processes — fast.

With an SOP template, you can provide your team with the groundwork for a range of workflows, from internal business processes to customer service or safety protocols.

Types of SOP formats

SOPs support several different industries, like healthcare finance or standard businesses.

Luckily, there are types of SOPs for every use case. Here are the standard SOP format types you'll likely run into.

Step-by-step SOP format

A step-by-step SOP format, as the name suggests, draws out a sequential plan of action to complete a task. For instance, you can create a step-by-step list explaining how to use different features in a tool or detail operational procedures.

Here’s an example of a step-by-step instructions SOP created using Scribe:

How to calculate mean in Google Sheets
  • This SOP works best when you outline a straightforward process or routine procedure where you have to perform actions in a specific order.
  • Break a process into actionable process steps to help users perform an action. 
  • Make these steps more meaningful by including annotated screenshots to visualize each step along with supplementary information.

Hierarchical SOP format

Hierarchical SOP formats are structured as an ordered list of stages with a few steps nested within the main action items.

Here’s a hierarchical list from our business action plan template to show how you can create one for your team:

Hierarchical SOP Scribe
Scribe's business action plan template
  • Hierarchical SOPs are great for complex processes since they contain more information than other SOP formats. You can use them to categorize information under different stages and elaborate on your instructions in each stage.
  • Break down a long and complex process into more actionable stages.
  • List responsible teams or stakeholders for each stage.
  • Create paths based on specific outcomes.
  • Help users navigate from one stage to another based on the outcomes.

Flowchart SOP format

Flowchart SOP formats use graphical charts to visually demonstrate a process flow.

Flowchart SOPs visualize your processes using directional arrows to illustrate the path from one step to another. They map out the steps, stakeholders, and the people responsible for tasks or processes.

Here’s an example of a flowchart SOP with different action items:

Lucidchart Flowchart SOP: SOP templates
(Source: LucidChart)
  • Like hierarchical SOPs, you can use this format to document lengthier processes or complex tasks, especially when they aren’t linear. 
  • Convey the flow of steps from start to finish.
  • Create outcome or criteria-based flows to guide users about non-linear workflows.

Learn more about flowcharts and process mapping here.

See more types of SOP templates

This template gallery of 100+ free SOP templates to start documenting your workflows today.

Here are the most popular SOP templates to help you get started.

SOP template

St‎andard Operating Procedure (SOP) template

‎A standard operating procedure (SOP) template documents the steps for completing a process or task.

Teams create these instructions to maintain consistency and speed up the training process.

Use this SOP template for:

  • Employee training: Create training materials for new employees, including step-by-step instructions for completing specific tasks, information on safety protocols, and company policies.
  • Quality control: Establish procedures for quality control and quality assurance.
  • Inventory management: Create routine end-to-end processes for managing inventory.
  • Equipment maintenance: Build procedures for maintaining and repairing equipment.
  • Data management: Create procedures for managing data.

‍👉 Try this SOP template for free.

‎SO‎P manual template

SOP manual templates
SOP manual template

‎Save time and resources by using our SOP manual template to ensure your SOPs are clear, concise and consistent.

Use this standard operating procedure manual template to:

  • Train new employees: Create a training guide for new team members outlining the proper procedures for completing tasks.
  • Standardize processes: Standardize routine procedures across all departments.
  • Ensure compliance with industry regulations and legal requirements.
  • Improve efficiency: Identify inefficiencies in current processes and improve your process to increase productivity and reduce errors.
  • Maintain quality control: Establish quality control measures, ensuring that products or services meet organizational standards.

‍👉 Try this SOP manual template for free.

‎Pr‎ocess documentation template

Process documentation template: SOP templates
Process documentation template

‎Create a clear and concise guide that standardizes:

  • How a particular process works.
  • Who is responsible for each step.
  • What resources and tools are needed to complete it. 

‍👉 Try this process documentation template for free.

‎St‎ep-by-step guide SOP template

Step-by-step guide template: SOP templates
Step-by-step guide template

Streamline processes and ensure consistency for any task or process with this step-by-step guide template. Build consistently formatted SOPs that make it easy for employees and stakeholders to understand and follow procedures.

‍👉 Try this step-by-step guide template for free.

‎Kn‎‎owledge transfer SOP template

Kn‎owledge transfer SOP templates
Kn‎owledge transfer SOP template

‎A knowledge transfer SOP template outlines the steps and procedures involved in transferring knowledge or skills within your organization.

Use this knowledge transfer standard operating procedure template to:

  • Reduce the risk of knowledge loss: Ensure that important knowledge or skills are transferred from one responsible person or team to another.
  • Improve efficiency: Reduce the time and effort required to transfer knowledge.
  • Reduce errors and mistakes: Ensure important knowledge is shared effectively, reducing errors and mistakes in operations.
  • Support organizational learning: Share knowledge throughout your organization, leading to continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Facilitate team collaboration: Encourage team members to work together to transfer knowledge and achieve common goals.

‍👉 Try this knowledge transfer SOP template for free.

‎Op‎‎‎erational plan SOP template

Op‎‎erational plan SOP template
Op‎‎erational plan SOP template

‎Use this operational plan template to explain everything about your organizational operations, including:

  • Goals.
  • Market analysis.
  • Production processes.
  • And more!

You can include screenshots and text to share detailed instructions in your SOPs. Including links to related resources is another plus!

‍👉 Try this operational plan template for free.

‎More free SOP templates for different industries and processes

You’ll find hundreds of standard operating procedure templates for different business processes and use cases in the Scribe gallery.

Scribe template gallery: SOP templates
Scribe template gallery: 100+ SOP templates

‎Choose any and get started in seconds! Check out our gallery for the full template library and more.

Here are the most popular SOP templates for different industries and job functions:

IT, DevOps & MSPs

Operations & HR

Sales & Customer Success

IT‎‎‎ SOP template

IT‎ SOP templates
IT‎ SOP template

‎You can use this IT ‎standard operating procedure template to standardize tasks or processes, ensuring consistency and accuracy across your company.

Try our IT SOP template to outline step-by-step instructions for:

  • Installing and configuring software or hardware.
  • Conducting routine maintenance tasks.
  • Troubleshooting and resolving common IT issues.
  • Managing user accounts and access permissions.
  • Responding to security incidents or data breaches.
  • Creating and maintaining IT policies and procedures.
  • Training new IT staff on specific tasks or processes.

‍👉 Try this IT SOP template for free.

Pr‎‎oduct training SOP template

Product training SOP templates
Product training SOP template

‎Use this product training template to provide a structured approach to educating and training your team about your product.

  • Create a comprehensive training program for a new product or service.
  • Outline the key features, benefits, use cases of the product, the target audience, and their needs.

‍👉 Try this product training template for free.

SO‎‎‎P template for MSPs

SO‎P templates for Managed Service Providers
SO‎P template for Managed Service Providers

‎Standard operating procedures help Managed Service Providers (MSPs) ensure consistent, reliable and high-quality service delivery, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Use this SOP template for MSPs to:

  • Improve efficiency: Ensure tasks are carried out consistently, quickly and accurately.
  • Reduce costs: Reduce the amount of time and resources needed to provide services.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: Ensure services are delivered within agreed service levels, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

‍👉 Try this MSP SOP template for free.

Bu‎‎‎siness development SOP template

Bu‎siness development SOP templates
Business development SOP template

This business development standard operating procedures template provides a comprehensive framework for creating standard operating procedures for all phases of the business development cycle, including:

  • Lead generation.
  • Prospecting.
  • Proposal development.
  • Closing deals.

‍👉 Try this business development SOP template for free.

Em‎‎‎ployee handbook template

Employee handbook template: SOP templates
Employee handbook template

Outline your policies and procedures related to employee conduct, compensation, benefits and more with this employee handbook template.

‍👉 Try this employee handbook template for free.

‎C‎o‎mmunication plan SOP template

Communication plan SOP templates
Communication plan SOP template

Create clear SOPs for improving collaboration between your team and set up clear communication lines for optimized performance.

‍👉 Try this communication plan template for free.

Sa‎‎‎les to service handoff template

Sa‎les to service handoff template: SOP templates
Sa‎les to service handoff SOP template

‎Create a seamless transition from the sales team to the customer success team after closing a deal.

Use our sales to service handoff template to outline the steps to make this handoff successful.

‍👉 Try this sales to service handoff template for free.

Ac‎‎count management SOP template

Account Management SOP Template

Try this account management template to design a standardized operating procedure for managing client accounts.

  • Build alignment between sales and service teams. 
  • Provide guidelines for internal processes and managing customer accounts.
  • Identify opportunities for growth within customer accounts.

‍👉 Try this account management SOP template for free.

‎‎‎Cu‎stomer service SOP template

Customer service SOP templates
Customer service SOP template

‎Scribe's customer service SOP template outlines the steps and support processes your customer service team can take to deliver high-quality customer service. Try our template to:

  • Build standard operating procedures that standardize customer service processes and drive repeatable success.
  • Define workflows and support processes, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Improve consistency, bringing greater predictability to outcomes.

‍👉 Try this customer service SOP template for free.

How to create an SOP: step-by-step guide

1. Consider your SOP’s purpose and choose a format

First things first, define why you’re creating an SOP. For example:

  • Create employee training materials.
  • Document standard internal workflows.
  • Build product how-tos.

Identifying your goals will clarify your intended audience. And you can use this insight to pick the best format for creating user-friendly documentation. 

2. Define the essential elements of your SOP structure

Once you’ve finalized the goals and format for your SOP, it’s time to chalk out its structure. Here’s a good structure to use as a reference frame:

  • Header: Add a clear title, version, short summary, document number, and other identification details.
  • Goals: List the key goals of creating this SOP and briefly explain the document’s intent.
  • Scope: Contextualize who this SOP is for and how it’ll be used in the necessary workflows.
  • Roles: Mention all the roles and responsible people who will use the SOP to execute the process.
  • Process: Include all the necessary steps and add photos or notes to better explain each step.
  • Revision history: Record all the dates on which the document has changed.  
  • Approved by: Author and reviewer’s signature to ensure the document is vetted. 

This is the perfect place to create an SOP template with pre-defined elements you want to include in all documents.

3. Connect with experts and collect relevant details

Before drafting the SOP, it’s good to connect with the responsible people (your subject matter experts) who manage the process in question. They can provide details you might otherwise miss since they’re experts in the field and have a hands-on understanding of the process. 

💡 Scribe tip: Save valuable time and effort with a knowledge-sharing tool like Scribe! Your SMEs can create SOP documentation while they work, simply by clicking "Start Capture". Scribe will record their process and automatically generate an easy to understand step-by-step guide with screenshots and text. You can easily combine these standardized guides into a comprehensive SOP in minutes.

Scribe user Nate McCallister shares how easy it is to create SOPs with Scribe:

4. Write the first draft and submit it for review

Create SOP templates with Scribe
‎By this step, you’ve done all the prep to write your SOP’s first draft. Revisit the structure you created in the second step and refer to your research notes to populate all the points in the document. 

With a feature-packed documentation tool like Scribe, you don’t have to spend hours manually stitching screenshots together to create an end-to-end process. This Chrome extension will do all the heavy lifting to create SOPs in seconds by:

  • Capturing screenshots.
  • Annotating mouse clicks.
  • Writing text for all the steps.

Plus, you can customize these step-by-step processes to present the information more contextually. Add a clear title, headings, tips, additional information, videos, GIFs, and links, or blur sensitive details in your screenshots effortlessly with Scribe’s customization capabilities. 

But here’s the best part: you can curate multiple Scribes in a single document with Scribe Pages. Simply add the relevant Scribes and ask the AI to create your SOPs for you!

Use Scribe
‎So, it’s easy to compile all your process SOPs in one place and share them with a link! 

Josie, a Senior Campaign Analyst, highlights how Scribe has simplified her documentation process:

“ I was spending hours in my operations role documenting long and complicated processes. It was very common for steps to be missed. Scribe has totally solved this issue. I'm winning back multiple hours a week.”

Once you’re done drafting your SOP, send it for review to refine this draft with finer details. 

You can designate the responsibility to review and approve SOPs to a dedicated project team member. Then, create guidelines for reviewing each SOP, like fact-checking instructions, quality assurance checklist, and more. 

5. Edit and share your SOP

In the final step, all that’s left for you to do is make all the changes from the reviewer. You can also share the edited version for further review with the SME contributors to get a final seal of approval. 

Once your SOP is through all rounds of review, it’s ready to roll out. If you’ve built your SOPs with Scribe, sharing them with anyone is a piece of cake. You can:

  • Share documents with specific members of your team via email.
  • Embed them anywhere with a smart and customizable embed code.
  • Export as PDF, HTML, Markdown, and Confluence documents.

As a best practice, store all your SOPs in a single, accessible location to let employees and customers find the information they need. 

Wh‎at are the benefits of SOP templates?

Teams use SOPs primarily to standardize their business processes. But these documents also help in building alignment among team members and completing tasks with minimal or no errors.

With a good SOP template, your job of documenting processes becomes a lot easier. Here are a few benefits of SOP templates you don’t want to miss out on:

  • Maximize efficiency with a pre-defined framework to create new procedure documents instead of starting from scratch. 
  • Improve productivity by speeding up process documentation and preventing errors.
  • Easy updating when any process changes since templatized structures will be easier to edit.
  • Maintain uniformity and follow similar formatting and style for all documents.
  • Consistent and scalable performance: Team members follow the same process steps to produce more consistent outputs. These efforts can be easily replicated across different teams, making it easy to scale business operations. 
  • Minimize miscommunication between teams, especially when working remotely. With easily accessible SOPs, you can quickly answer employees’ questions, deliver relevant information and offer clarity on any process without leaving things open to their interpretation. And as research indicates, these structured SOPs can save you 270 hours annually or 30 nine-hour workdays.

SOP Templates: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the challenges of creating an SOP?

Here are the top three SOP challenges and how you can overcome them.

1. Inconsistencies. Because different departments create SOP documents, there will be different formats and inconsistent or contradictory procedures.

Solution: Set meetings with departments or the responsible person to schedule writing sessions or seek clarifications regarding any questions. This allows different teams with overlapping SOPs to stay on the same page and prevent inconsistencies.

2. Resource-intensive process. Many organizations don't bother updating or maintaining SOPs when they take too long to create. Updates usually happen too fast—especially in ever-changing industries like tech.

Solution: Start small and scale up. Don't try to implement SOPs for every process in your organization all at once. Start with a few key processes, build templates and gradually expand.

‎3. Inaccessible records. According to a 2022 Act! survey, 45 percent of small businesses still rely on paper records. While there is a good reason behind keeping paper records, it doesn’t make sense for SOPs, especially when they require frequent updating.

Solution: Leverage automation. There are multiple tools and free SOP software available. Use an AI-powered tool like Scribe's SOP generator to make the process easy, consistent and repeatable.

How often should SOPs be updated?

You should regularly update your SOPs to reflect changes in the process or procedure. Updates also need to be made when there are changes to regulations or standards.

Who is responsible for creating and updating SOPs?

The responsibility for creating and updating SOPs typically falls to the responsible team or the role that handles the task or specific process. Be sure to get input from other stakeholders like other departments, managers and customers.

How can I ensure that my team is using SOPs?

  • Train your team: Make sure that all employees who need to use SOPs are trained on how to create and use them.
  • Make your SOPs easy to find: Creating a central repository for SOPs, such as a shared drive or intranet site, will make it easy for your team to find, access and create SOPs. Clear titles also make it quick and easy to find SOPs.
  • Monitor compliance: Conduct regular audits and spot checks of your SOPs to make sure they are still compliant.
  • Encourage feedback: Ask for feedback on your SOPs and incorporate the suggestions into your templates.

How can I protect sensitive information in my SOPs?

If your SOPs contain sensitive information like customer data or intellectual property, you can use security measures like passwords, encryption, and access controls.

Scribe offers customized sharing settings, so you can control who can access your SOP. Scribe Pro and Teams users can also redact sensitive information from screenshots, ensuring no customer, employee or personal data is in your Scribe.

Fast-track documentation with SOP templates!

Most high-growth teams drop the ball when it comes to documenting workflows.

With SOP templates, you can create step-by-step guides in minutes and document critical aspects of your business —from employee training or client success.

Sign up for Scribe to capture your own processes in seconds or choose from 100+ SOP templates today!

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