SOPs

Challenges & Solutions: SOPs for Agencies

If you’re a first time SOP developer, this article shows you the challenges that you might face in creating one and how to overcome them.

Introduction

If you are still putting in several unpaid hours interacting with consumers and redoing work that had previously been completed, you need to seriously consider creating an SOP for your agency. 

Did you know that training new employees is the second biggest challenge faced by digital consultant agencies? 

When you hire a new employee, there’s a lag between the time they join the organization and when they start to actually contribute to it. It is up to you to minimize this lag time as much as you can. 

How?

By creating SOPs. 

Training new or promoted employees takes time. Unfortunately, if the department is chaotic and there’s no practical approach for involved processes, you can expect an exponentially long lag time. 

An SOP can help you prevent that and much more. 

In this article, we will discuss what exactly an SOP is and what are the benefits and challenges of developing an SOP in a digital marketing agency.

What are SOPs for agencies?

A Standard Operating Procedure or an SOP is a written set of  instructions that documents the recurring or routine operations of an organization. These instructions are a crucial part of the day-to-day workflow of the organzation in order to maintain an effective quality system. This is because they equip employers with the knowledge they need to carry out processes correctly. It promotes the quality, consistency, and integrity of an end result or product.

When your company is new and is just growing, all the internal decisions are mostly taken by the founders or the management team. However, after you reach a specific size, it becomes difficult for them to make all the company decisions. In such cases, SOPs can take over this responsibility and be the final word. 

Quality control is another area where SOPs make a significant effect. Your clients expect a particular level of quality from a product or service. SOPs assist you in reducing errors or variances that arise when you do a task several times during the day. The same is true for starting Facebook campaigns. With SOPs in place, you can assess which ads are ready to go right away and which need to be rebuilt.

What are the most important SOPs for agencies?

A digital consulting agency has loads and loads of work to do daily. Therefore, it needs not one but several SOPs to ensure quality operations. These SOPs can be categorized under three main headings. They are:

  • Productized service SOPs.
  • Client onboarding SOPs.
  • Reverse-engineering SOPs.

Read on to learn exactly what they entail. 

Productized services SOPs

Productizing your services allows you to scale your firm more easily and eliminates the time constraints of bespoke customer service. When your goal is to function as swiftly and efficiently as you can, having your processes documented provides a clear starting point for optimizing them for efficiency, performance outcomes, and operational consistency.

Instead of focusing on the procedures themselves, you can now consider how to make each stage of the service process smoother and better.

Productized SOPs can be developed for the following: 

  • Creating a lead-generating landing page.
  • Structuring, running and analyzing an A/B test.
  • Starting and managing an editorial calendar.
  • Mapping the sales funnel.
  • Optimizing WordPress to speed up your website.
  • Planning Facebook ads campaign.

Client onboarding SOPs

When making a purchasing choice, 63 percent of clients look at the company's onboarding process. As a business owner, you should have a new customer onboarding checklist in place to guarantee that your customers have the greatest possible experience with your agency. You may speed up and improve the efficiency of the client onboarding process by using a checklist or an SOP. 

When developing the SOP, be as descriptive as possible to ensure that all parties understand what customer onboarding includes. This eliminates inconsistencies and gives you a long following of loyal clients. 

Reverse engineering SOPs

Whatever your niche, there are always a few competitors' websites that are currently achieving excellent results in your market segment. 

So, if you're building and optimizing your website, why not look at what your competitors are doing to get their results? 

Reverse engineering is the process of evaluating an existing method, system, or structure (such as a marketing strategy or the design of a website) and then using the knowledge acquired from that assessment to develop a replica or similar system. Obviously, when reverse engineering your competitor, you want to make sure you're not replicating anything that is subject to copyright regulations.

Yet, untrained employees might end up copying their work and land your firm into legal trouble. To avoid that, a reverse engineering SOP is a must. 

You can create SOPs to reverse-engineer a competitor’s

  • email marketing strategy.
  • Google ads strategy.
  • Traffic sources.
  • Facebook ad strategy.
  • Keyword strategy.

Challenges of developing an SOP

Developing an SOP is not a few hours work, although it can be (see Scribe)! You will face several challenges in the process. We have listed a few of them below. 

Fragmented data

Eighty-seven percent of managers agree that a large part of their secondary data is fragmented which they find difficult to deal with. It is difficult to standardize processes in the absence of solid data. Unfortunately, many businesses segment their data by business unit, function, and position.

Data held in distinct silos is difficult to retrieve and compromises standardization efforts. Avoid this issue by gathering the necessary data before commencing the SOP preparation process.

Lack of purpose

SOPs must include the following five components: procedures, purpose, responsibilities, scope, and accountability measures. SOPs can sometimes become excessively focused on processes and lose sight of their goal. 

As a result, a team is formed to resolve issues that no longer exist. Review and update your SOPs on a regular basis to eliminate redundant and unnecessary processes.

Poor format

An inappropriate SOP structure or template can make it complicated or boring to comprehend. Nobody wants to read a text that makes them yawn within seconds, even if their job is at stake! Checklists, flowchart forms, hierarchical phases, and the use of common acronyms are all popular SOP formats.

You can, however, attach infographics, job instructions, and manuals. Visual learning is 83 percent more effective than other forms of learning. As a result, it is advisable that you make your forms as visually appealing as possible. To improve clarity, include a table of contents, bulleted lists, and flowcharts.

Developed by third-party consultants

Your staff is the ones who are on the ground every day. As a result, you should reference them when developing standard operating procedures. Many managers make the mistake of delegating SOP development to company executives and third-party consultants.

While enlisting non-biased assistance is a good idea, don't let outsiders entirely run the show. This method frequently results in lengthy SOP documents with unnecessary complex vocabulary. Leaders and other stakeholders who are not directly involved in processes are more prone to overlooking critical details. They're simply too divorced from the day-to-day realities of carrying out the task at hand!

How to overcome these challenges?

Get it reviewed

Allow someone who is not part of your original development team to evaluate your documents and provide input. They can call out any mistakes you've made or procedures that are difficult to understand.

Conduct trials

Put yourself in the shoes of your employee. Execute the procedures to see if the step-by-step instructions are applicable in real-world scenarios. Trial runs can reduce confusion by ensuring that people performing the work understand the technique. Troubleshooting the accuracy of certain stages provides a degree of quality management that both new hires and seasoned professionals will value.

Use automation

When it comes to documenting processes, a tool like Scribe can help you get things done in a matter of minutes. It can turn literally any workflow that you perform on your computer into an easy-to-read guide. This guide can act as an SOP and reduce the possibility of human errors. The best part is that you can easily update them if a certain part of the process changes, instead of creating an entirely new one. 

Wrapping up

Procedures are not a panacea; they do not guarantee high performance or great results. SOPs, on the other hand, will guarantee that you have a defined quality framework and protocols in place, as well as qualified workers and stimulating business culture. SOPs, in their simplest form, help the right individuals in the right place.

Scribe has been used by some of the top organizations like Adobe, Facebook, Amazon, Visa and so many more to document processes. So, what are you waiting for? 

Start creating SOPs for your agency to beat your competitor in terms of quality and swift workflow management.