100+ Free SOP Templates: How to Write SOPs

Maddy Osman, Expert Product Reviewer
August 16, 2022
min read
April 22, 2024
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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.

According to Gallup's "How to Improve the Employee Experience":

"After experiencing onboarding at their organization, 29% of new hires say that they feel fully prepared and supported to excel in their new role."

As an employee, if I'm not prepared and supported in my role, how can I contribute to my company's success?

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

That's why we've put together 15 free SOP templates you can easily download and customize. Read on for our list of SOP types, benefits and a step-by-step guide to make your documentation fast, stress-free and simple.

Jump to a template:

TL;DR: Free SOP templates

  • 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.
  • We break down 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.

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. And as research from Asana's Anatomy of Work Index indicates, structured SOPs that improve processes can save you 270 hours annually or 30 nine-hour workdays.

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

Types of SOP formats

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 detailing operational procedures.

Or you can use them to create step-by-step instructions on how to use tools — like this Scribe on how to download Google Docs as a Microsoft Word document:

Step-by-step SOP on downloading Google Docs as a Microsoft Word doc
How to download Google Docs as Microsoft Word docs
  • 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 steps to help users perform an action.
  • Make these steps more meaningful by including annotated screenshots.

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 expand 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.

More types of SOP templates

Our 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

Click here to try this Standard Operating Procedure 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 highly customizable SOP template for:

  • Employee training: Create training materials for new team members, 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 procedures for maintaining and repairing equipment.
  • Data management procedures.

‍👉 Try this standard operating procedure template for free.

‎SO‎P manual template

Free SOP manual template
Click here to try this 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 and routine procedures across all departments.
  • Ensure compliance with industry regulations and legal requirements.
  • Improve efficiency: Identify inefficiencies in your current processes and improve them to increase productivity.
  • Maintain quality control: Establish quality control measures so your products or services meet organizational standards.

‍👉 Try this SOP manual template for free.

‎Pr‎ocess documentation template

Process documentation template: SOP templates
Click here to try this process documentation template

Document processes and create a clear, easy to follow guide that standardizes:

  • How a particular process or procedure works.
  • Who is responsible for each step.
  • Resources and tools needed to complete it. 

‍👉 Try this process documentation template for free.

‎St‎ep-by-step guide SOP template

Step-by-step guide template: SOP templates
Click here to try this step-by-step guide template

Document processes and ensure consistency for any task or process with this step-by-step guide template. Use our SOP document template to outline the steps for employees (and stakeholders) to understand and follow your 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: Transfer important knowledge or skills from one person or team to another.
  • Improve efficiency.
  • Reduce errors and mistakes.
  • Support organizational learning: Share knowledge throughout your organization, leading to continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Facilitate team collaboration: Encourage team members to work together to share knowledge and achieve common goals.

‍👉 Try this knowledge transfer SOP template for free.

‎Op‎‎‎erational plan SOP template

Op‎‎erational plan SOP template
Click here to try this operational plan SOP template

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

  • Goals.
  • Market analysis.
  • Project management.
  • 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, including:

... and more!

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

IT‎‎‎ SOP template

IT‎ SOP templates
Click here to try this 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.
  • Training new IT staff on specific tasks or processes.

‍👉 Try this IT SOP template for free.

Pr‎‎oduct training SOP template

Product training SOP templates
Click here to try this 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, the target audience, and their needs.

‍👉 Try this product training template for free.

SO‎‎‎P template for MSPs

SO‎P templates for Managed Service Providers
Click here to try this SO‎P template for MSPs

‎Standard operating procedures help Managed Service Providers (MSPs) ensure consistent, reliable and high-quality service delivery.

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 by ensuring services are delivered within agreed service levels.

‍👉 Try this MSP SOP template for free.

Bu‎‎‎siness development SOP template

Bu‎siness development SOP templates
Click here to try this 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
Click here to try this 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
Click here to try this 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
Click here to try this 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

Click here to try this account management SOP template

Try this account management template to design procedures 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
Click here to try this 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.
  • 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 and specific purpose will clarify your intended audience and scope. 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 organized your goals and SOP format, it’s time to chalk out its structure and scope. Here’s a good structure to use as a reference frame:

  • Title page: 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 specific purpose.
  • 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 your documents.

📌 Related resource: 7 Best Practices for Streamlining Small Business Processes

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
Create customizable 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
Use Scribe's generative AI to build SOPs in seconds
‎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. 

📌 Related resource: AI for Small Businesses: A Guide to Business Automation

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 — no 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 clarification. 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 so 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 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.

Wrapping up: 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+ highly customizable SOP templates today!

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