How to Write SOPs for Business Processes

Ankit Vora
July 11, 2022
min read
June 13, 2024
Photo credit
Learn how to streamline your business with SOPs for business processes. Improve consistency and productivity in 6 easy steps with our step-by-step guide.
Generate SOPs!


As your business grows, your workforce gets bigger. And processes become even more complex.

And before you even know it, your operations will be riddled with delays and discrepancies. 


Because you don’t have SOPs to standardize business processes. 

This is a start-to-finish guide to help you fix this mistake before it turns into a full-blown crisis. 

I’ll break down the types of standard operating procedures you need for your business, how to create an SOP and the top SOP examples (and free templates) to provide inspiration. 

Let's start with the basics.

TL;DR: SOPs for business processes

  • SOPs for business processes are essential for guiding teams and standardizing processes.
  • SOP formats include checklist, flowchart, hierarchical, and step-by-step.
  • Standard operating procedures can improve efficiency, consistency and reduce errors in operations.
  • Creating effective SOPs involves identifying processes, choosing formats, gathering information, drafting, reviewing, and updating.
  • 5 SOPs for business processes examples and templates.

What is an SOP document?

An SOP (stands for standard operating procedure) documents the scope and key steps to perform a process or workflow. It defines the scope of work and outlines the tasks required to complete a process. 

Implementing SOPs is a good practice that gives employees a structured framework for performing any task. SOPs streamline day-to-day operations and set teams up for repeatable success. 

The result? More efficiency in executing tasks, higher consistency in outputs and fewer mistakes. 


Here's an example of a standard operating procedure (created using Scribe, an AI-powered SOP documentation platform) explaining the process of managing and publishing content delivered by freelance writers:

SOP for business processes on managing and publishing freelance writer content


SOPs can also reduce time spent on sharing knowledge individually.

Whenever a new employee joins the team or a team member needs a refresher, SOPs serve as go-to resources. Giving current team members more time to focus on business-critical tasks.

📌 Related resource: Revolutionize Your SOPs With These 6 SOP Chrome Extensions

Types of SOPs for business use cases 

Standard operating procedures come in many shapes and forms. You have to choose the right SOP format based on your use case. 

1. Checklist SOPs

Free project checklist template: SOPs for business processes
Free project management checklist template

‎Checklists break down a bigger workflow into smaller tasks.

They're ideal for working collaboratively. They also work well as job aids — employees can use a checklist to ensure they’ve completed all necessary action items for a project.

Here’s a checklist SOP example for a new employee onboarding process:

Asana checklist SOP format: SOPs for business processes


2. Flowchart SOPs

Flowcharts visually document all the moving parts in the workflow. These diagrams present different scenarios that can happen during a process and the next steps. They give you a high-level overview showing the flow of information or process.

This SOP format is good for more adaptable workflows. You can make your standard operating procedures more flexible with a flow chart. That’s because a flowchart covers all bases and guides users to the final step, even when there are different routes. 

Here's a flow chart SOP example:

EdrawMax flowchart SOP format: SOPs for business processes


3. Hierarchical SOPs

A hierarchical standard operating procedure organizes steps in the form of chapters, with sub-steps added to each chapter. 

Here’s an example of SOP in the hierarchical format created by a user in the Scribe community:

SOP for business processes on the advanced usage of Zapier
SOP for Advanced Usage of Zapier's Zap Editor

‎Think of a hierarchical SOP like a blog post — it distributes information among multiple heading levels for better clarity. These SOPs are more comprehensive than the other formats.

4. Step-by-step SOPs

Cold Email Outreach hierarchical sops for business processes created with Scribe
Cold Email Outreach SOP

‎Step-by-step SOP documents are a list of steps in a sequential manner with visual cues to complete a process.

This SOP format is great for effective communication. You can create multiple step-by-step processes to document and standardize daily internal processes.

Here’s an example of a step-by-step SOPs (created using Scribe):

Step-by-step SOPs for business processes: How to Hide Repository on GitHub
How to Hide Repository on GitHub

👀 Check out our list of the top free SOP software to make creating, managing and tracking processes easier and more efficient.

Why you need SOPs for your business 

SOPs can directly impact business growth by giving your team the information they need and making them more productive, efficient and outcome-oriented. Here’s how:

  • Create consistency at scale: Standard operating procedures allow you to automate processes and create consistency across the board. They provide a clear blueprint for employees to perform a task and eliminate the need to “figure out” the process. 

According to the LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 83 percent of organizations want to build a more people-centric culture that: "recognizes that organizational success depends on people’s success. And this simple truth guides the design of employee experiences, from onboard to exit, with human needs at the center."

Shane Martin, the owner of two micro-agencies and a mentor for freelancers, emphasizes how SOPs can automate different tasks:

"You can also use systems to automate. 

I hate recreating the wheel. 

That’s why I create SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for everything. 

  • How to Pay My Taxes 
  • How to Choose a Hotel 
  • How to Onboard a Client 

Why go through the mental anguish every single time?"

  • Maximize employee training: You don’t have to spend days (or weeks) training employees about business processes. Write an SOP in different formats to bring employees up to speed on tools, tasks, and other topics you want to train them on.  
  • Implement quality benchmarks: SOPs can also reduce the scope of error for any task. Since employees follow a defined set of steps, they’re less susceptible to making mistakes. And they’re better equipped to meet your quality standards.
  • Ditch micro-managing every task: When your team has complete clarity for executing a workflow, you don’t have to spend time supervising every aspect of the process or task. You can take a hands-free approach where employees aren’t reliant on one person to oversee the work.

No matter how fast your business grows, things can fall through the cracks without clear and concise documentation. That’s why you need standard operating procedures to document critical information and keep everyone on the same page. 

Chris Holmes, a growth strategist with a focus on lean principles, puts it this way — SOPs allow you to clone your best employees to fuel business growth. 

"Whole point of a business is to build something that grows, compounds and snowballs.

Then you create the necessary systems, use SOPs to 'clone' your best employees, then said business can grow without you.

Until that point, you only have a job with better boundaries."

‎Want to save time? This powerful, free SOP generator creates SOPs in seconds — so you can get back to the work you love.

How to create effective SOPs for business processes 

We’ve created dozens of SOPs to make our business processes more airtight than ever before. 

And here’s the truth: you can’t just wing it when creating standard operating procedures. 

You need a clear strategy and defined stages to go from an idea to a finished document your team will actually use.

Here are six SOP best practices we follow to create high-impact SOPs for business processes:

Step 1: Identify and prioritize processes to document

Without clear documentation, you’ll have leaks in your revenue pipeline, which can be caused by declining employee productivity, poor training and error-prone performances. 

Here's how you can identify and prioritize your procedures and processes:

  1. List all processes: Create a comprehensive list of all the tasks and processes within your organization. The document will give you a bird's-eye view and help in prioritizing which SOPs to develop first.
  2. Evaluate the impact on revenue: Look at the procedures through the lens of revenue impact. Which tasks, if done incorrectly, could cost the company money? Which tasks, if optimized, could directly increase profits?
  3. Assess employee productivity: Identify the procedures that are currently causing bottlenecks or confusion among your team. Streamline processes with the most impact on improving employee productivity and satisfaction.
  4. Consider training needs: Pinpoint complex procedures or internal processes that aren't well understood by new or existing employees. Documenting these procedures can make training more effective.
  5. Analyze error rates: Focus on areas where errors are frequent. Documenting detailed procedures can help minimize errors and the time spent correcting them.

Once evaluated, assign each process a priority level in the document. It's a good practice to prioritize processes that:

  • Have a direct impact on your company's bottom line.
  • Are critical for operational efficiency.
  • Pose significant risks if not performed correctly.

Step 2: Choose a format and structure for each process

For each process, ask yourself:

  • Which format will best convey the information?
  • Do I need a step-by-step SOP or a hierarchical one?
  • Do I need a flowchart or a checklist?

The format you choose should make the standard operating procedure clear, accessible and easy to follow for anyone who uses it.

Once you pick a format, define the document structure. Here are some common sections to add, no matter the format: 

  • Title page: Use a concise title and table of contents on your title page to make your SOP document easy to understand.
  • Scope: Define the scope and purpose of the document and summarize the main objective of the process.
  • Definitions: List all the key terms and abbreviations used in the SOP for easy reference.
  • Procedures: Provide a list of steps with detailed instructions on how to perform the steps in this workflow and the desired result. Structure them based on your chosen SOP format.
  • Roles and responsibilities: Mention the different roles and stakeholders involved in the workflow and assign owners for each step/task, if required.
  • References: Curate additional resources and other documents to provide more information about the task.

Step 3: Research and gather information

To get the details right for each process, you might have to do some digging yourself or talk to an expert on your current team who knows the ins and outs.

It's a good idea to work with a subject matter expert to make sure you don't miss anything.

Yes, it can take a bit of time.

But by using SOP software like Scribe, you can streamline this step.

Scribe automatically captures a process as you complete each step, making it easier to document every detail accurately.

So, the subject matter experts (or stakeholders) at your company can create step-by-step instructions by just performing a process while the tool records every action.

Step 4: Create the first draft and send it for review

The next step is writing the SOP draft. The easiest way to start is by using a SOP template like this one:

Free customizable standard operating procedure template: SOP for business processes
Free customizable standard operating procedure template

‎Make sure to explain everything in detail in this draft, including steps that might seem minor or obvious. It's important because the people using the standard operating procedure might not have the same knowledge as your experts, and they will appreciate the extra details.

Adding pictures, screenshots, or videos is a good idea, too. Visual aids can help your team understand and follow the procedures more easily.

Scribe automatically captures your processes and creates an actionable step-by-step guide with screenshots, annotations, text, links and more.

You can ask subject matter experts at your company to record processes using Scribe to auto-generate detailed instructions. And then finalize SOPs by reviewing and refining your visual guide:

  • Edit each screenshot to redact information, add annotations and include text overlays.
  • Add, delete, merge and move steps to make your SOPs as concise or comprehensive as you want.
  • Customize the document to your brand style.

Once your guides are ready, use Scribe Pages to combine multiple guides — and ask the AI to write your SOP for you.

Use Scribe
Use Scribe's generative AI to write SOPs for business processes

🔥 ‎Here's where Scribe stands out from tools: it will automatically write documents using your company-specific processes.

‎Then, send them to subject matter experts or stakeholders for a final review. Also, you can gather feedback from end-users. This will help in choosing the right SOPs for updates. 

‎Your team can quickly provide feedback with Scribe. Plus, you can also get real-time insights into how employees are interacting with your SOPs. You can see the total number of views, collect feedback through comments and track if they complete the process. 

Here’s Carla, a Partner Program Manager, explaining how Scribe makes employee training seamless and hassle-free:

“Scribe is so intuitive and simple to use. The team has put thought into how people teach and learn. I can make a tutorial for team members in minutes. The process is no fuss and simplified and features all the tools I need to work effectively.”


Step 5: SOP distribution

Once the document is finalized, you can distribute it to your intended audience or publish it in a centralized internal knowledge base that’s accessible to everyone.

With Scribe, you can:

  • Add teammates to your workspace.
  • Create and share an automatic link.
  • Export as to PDF, HTML or Markdown (Pro and Teams).
  • Click "Embed file" to generate a code you can embed in almost any knowledge base software or third-party extension.

If you don't have knowledge base software, you can also use Scribe Sidekick for easy access to your step-by-step instructions.

Scribe Sidekick opens side-by-side in any tool for easy access to SOPs for business processes
Scribe Sidekick opens side-by-side in any tool for easy access

If you have a question on a certain tool, just open the Scribe extension and click the "View X Scribes in Sidekick" button. This opens Sidekick in a new side-by-side window. You can access every Scribe and Page a teammate or community member has created.

💡 ‎Learn how to build a knowledge base that strengthens your internal team and increases customer satisfaction in 8 easy steps: How to Create a Knowledge Base (+ Examples & Free Templates)

Step 6: Create guidelines for updating  

Standard operating procedures aren’t a marathon you finish in a day. They’re more like sprints that you take every few weeks or months to share the most relevant information with your team. 

That’s why you need to create guidelines and a schedule for:

As a best practice, employee involvement will make SOPs as meaningful as possible. Their feedback is crucial to the value you can deliver through these documents. So, create feedback surveys encouraging employees to share their thoughts and suggestions for improvement. 

You should also have an SOP document to update SOPs (yes, you read that right). 

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Who will identify the SOPs that need updates?
  • Who will check that they remain accurate or contain relevant information?
  • Who will work on the structure for updating each SOP?
  • What timelines do you need to follow?
  • Who handles quality control?
  • Which stakeholders will review and approve updated SOPs?
  • Who updates the knowledge base?

With Scribe Insights, you can see in-depth information on how people and teams interact with your Scribes and Pages.

If you're looking for team-wide insights, click on "Team Insights" in your workspace to see your team stats, most active users, popular documents, and more.

Accessing and analyzing your Scribe insights: SOPs for business processes
Access and analyze your Scribe team insights

‎You can also create some basic rules when updating these SOPs — like adding the latest version to all public access platforms or knowledge bases.

Try Scribe's free ChatGPT SOP Generator to streamline your SOP creation process.

5 Standard Operating Procedure examples for businesses

Want to create SOPs quickly but working on a time crunch? Here are some of the most common examples of SOPs for business processes you can replicate:

Process documentation SOP

Free Process Documentation template: SOPs for Business Processes
Free process documentation template

‎Explain how a routine process works with an actionable step-by-step SOP and document multiple business processes to reduce error rates.

🆓 ‎Try this process documentation template for free.

Knowledge transfer SOP

Free knowledge transfer SOP template: SOPs for Business Processes
Free knowledge transfer SOP template

‎Reduce the loss of knowledge when an experienced employee leaves. Bring new employees up to speed on critical tasks, roles and responsibilities with this SOP. 

🆓 Try this free knowledge transfer SOP ‎template.

Sales to service handoff SOP

Free sales to service handoff SOP template: SOPs for Business Processes
Free sales to service handoff SOP template

‎Streamline the process of handing over clients from your sales team to the service team and minimize points of friction.

🆓 Download our free sales to service handoff template‎.

Employee training plan SOP

Free Individual Employee Training Plan Template: SOPs for Business Processes
Free individual employee training plan template

‎Collaboratively create a repeatable training roadmap with individual employees and set them up for success with this SOP.

🆓 Customize this free individual employee training plan template.

Customer ticket resolution SOP

Free customer ticket and resolution template: SOPs for Business Processes
Free customer ticket and resolution template

‎Train your team to deliver empathetic support to your customers and solve queries accurately with a defined SOP. 

🆓 ‎Try this free customer ticket and resolution template.

100+ free SOP templates

Try from 100+ free, customizable templates in the Scribe Gallery: SOP for business processes
Try from 100+ free, customizable templates in the Scribe Gallery

‎Browse through our gallery of 100+ SOP templates to get started. You'll find free, customizable templates to create effective SOPs:

  • New hire and client onboarding process templates.
  • Customer service procedure templates.
  • Emergency procedure templates.
  • Process document templates.

... and more!

Use SOPs to drive business growth

SOPs can be the difference between an average team and a highly successful one. 

We’ve created this guide to help businesses kick-start their documentation process and create SOPs for every critical task. 

The best starting point for SOPs is identifying the processes you want to document.

Then use Scribe to capture these processes and automatically turn them into a comprehensive and effective SOP. Sign up for  Scribe and create your first SOPs in minutes!

Ready to try Scribe?

Scribe automatically generates how-to guides and serves them to your team when they need them most. Save time, stay focused, help others.