How to Write an SOP in 8 Steps: Who Should Write SOPs?

Rana Bano
April 4, 2023
min read
February 23, 2024
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Discover who should write a standard operating procedure and the important factors to consider in creating an effective SOP.
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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the secret sauce to transforming routine work into a well-oiled machine.

With the right SOPs in place, you can empower your team to perform at their best, achieve their goals and exceed expectations.

Who should create SOPs?

Whether you're building SOPs for HR, Ops or an internal team, the person responsible for performing the task or training others should create the SOP.

So, really anyone with an in-depth understanding of what needs to be done to achieve the desired results can create an SOP. This individual is also responsible for ensuring the document is easily accessible to all team members, such as a knowledge base or wiki. 

Should be easy right? Unfortunately, it's not.

It may seem simple, but creating an effective SOP document requires more than just writing down a business process.

When should you create an SOP?

SOPs are like the North Star that guides your team to complete routine work with clarity and efficiency. They help ensure that everyone knows what they need to do, when they need to do it and how to do it right.

Of course, having an SOP document alone won't automatically turn your team into superheroes. But SOPs are crucial for standardizing best practices and processes across your organization or team. This not only improves the quality and predictability of outcomes but also saves valuable time and resources that can be reinvested elsewhere.

Here are some common instances when you may need an SOP for:

  • Documenting key processes.
  • Supporting knowledge transfer and succession planning.
  • Meeting production or operational requirements.
  • Ensuring everyone adheres to the predetermined schedule.
  • Maintaining compliance with applicable standards and regulations.
  • Preventing errors and failures.
  • Evaluating employee performance.
  • Creating a safer work environment. 
  • Facilitating employee training and development.
🎓 Related resource: 7 Employee Training Program Examples to Steal From Today

How to write an effective SOP document?

When writing standard operating procedures, you need a clear line of thought to identify the most effective way to standardize critical but repetitive processes. 

To help you avoid common mistakes, here are the main steps to write an SOP:

  1. Determine the which and why.
  2. Select an SOP format.
  3. Know your end user.
  4. Get additional input.
  5. Determine the scope.
  6. Write the SOP.
  7. Review, edit and repeat. 

Step 1: Determine the which & why

Identify which tasks or workflows could benefit from an SOP. You can conduct a team-wide survey or ask employees to list their tasks regularly. Once you have a list, review it with other managers and leaders to refine it further.

But don't stop there! Before you start creating your SOP, determine how you will measure its effectiveness. This will give you a clear idea of how it will affect your organization and help you develop the best practices for your team's specific needs.

You can also work with employees to identify the key challenges and pain points they face in their day-to-day work. By creating SOPs around these issues, you have a solid reason for putting in the effort to create an SOP and improve the chances of getting employee buy-in.

Step 2: Select an SOP format

If your company already has SOPs from the past, refer to them to understand your team’s preferred formatting guidelines. If you don’t have any reference documents, you can choose from the following:

Simple SOP format

This is best for straightforward SOPs with low complexity. A standard simple SOP template includes three to five sections like:

  • Statement of purpose.
  • Short summary.
  • Step-by-step instructions/Short table.
  • List of person(s) responsible for each step.

Hierarchical SOP format

This more formal format is suitable for organizing large, complex or technical information. A hierarchical SOP template includes:

  • Table of contents.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Short summary.
  • Step-by-step instructions with details on completing each task and links to related checklists or action plans.
  • List of person(s) responsible for each step.

Flowchart SOP

This is useful for SOPs with a flexible scope, as it allows you to outline both simple and complex procedures. A standard flowchart SOP includes:

  • Statement of purpose or introduction.
  • Flowchart or diagram outlining various scenarios.
  • List of person(s) responsible for each step.

Step 3: Know your end user

The key to creating successful SOPs is having an in-depth understanding of the end users. 

Answer the following to know how to ensure your document resonates with the intended individuals:

  • Who will be using the SOP?
  • Are they new employees? What level of prior knowledge about the process?
  • What’s the size of the team?
  • Does an SOP already exist?

Aim to collect as much information as possible on the end user. This will help create an SOP that caters to their needs and points of view, helping you transform your processes at the same time.

Step 4: Get additional input

Collaborate with stakeholders and employees to ensure your SOP is covering the required information to perform the task correctly.

Hold brainstorming sessions with your team to understand their pain points and challenges and ask for honest feedback and suggestions. Be prepared—as you invite team members to make suggestions, there will be a lot of back and forth, but creating effective SOPs is necessary.

Step 5: Determine the scope 

It’s possible you may need to refer to other SOPs or teams from other departments to complete your SOP. 

Understand whether simply difference in those procedures is adequate or if the end users would benefit from integrating them into your current document. You can also consider creating a flowchart or map to illustrate the interdependencies and rules of each involved party.

Step 6: Write the SOP

This is where you’ll write the first draft of your SOP. 

Here are the main elements of an SOP template to guide your writing process:

  • Title Page: Start your SOP with a title, unique identification number, creation or revision date, department/employees/team the SOP applies to and the name and signatures of those involved in creating the SOP.
  • Table of Contents: Add a table of contents to help summarize the document structure and guide the reader to relevant sections, particularly for large documents.
  • Purpose: Describe the goals and objectives of the SOP document and explain how it will benefit the user and organization.
  • Scope: Define the limits of the document and provide an overview of what it covers to help the reader understand its boundaries and what it aims to achieve.
  • Glossary: Include a glossary of words, abbreviations, or acronyms that may be unfamiliar to your audience.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Identify key stakeholders (think: employees, managers) who need to follow the SOP and what responsibilities they have to avoid confusion and create accountability.
  • Procedures: This section will be the bulk of your SOP, comprising step-by-step instructions and any additional information needed to complete tasks.
  • Related Documents: Provide a list of related training materials or reference guides to your SOP.
  • Health and Safety Warnings: Include a separate section to describe what employees need to avoid and how to perform tasks safely to protect them from potential dangers and your company from liabilities.
  • Revision History: Add a revision history to show that the reader is looking at the latest version of the SOP.
  • Approval Signatures: If required, get the SOP approved by an authorizing officer and include their signature before sharing the document with the audience.
🎓 Want to learn more? Check out our 8-Step Guide to Writing SOPs

SOP documents are usually text heavy and — for the lack of a better word — boring. But they don’t have to be this way. 

Consider adding elements like screenshots, flowcharts, images, videos and screen recordings to add visual interest while clarifying what needs to be done to avoid misinterpretations.

Here’s an excellent example of an engaging SOP made using Scribe:

Step 7: Review, edit & repeat 

You need to do a few things to ensure your SOP is a valuable asset for everyone involved.

Put yourself to the test and follow the instructions to ensure you achieve the desired result. Then, get feedback from your employees and management by having them test the document and provide honest feedback.

Make sure you assign someone to update and maintain the SOP and plan periodic reviews to gauge its effectiveness and engagement. Keep tweaking the document until it's approved and accepted by all stakeholders and employees. Once everyone's on board, make the document easily accessible to those who need it.

🔥 Scribe Top Tip: Don't forget to review the SOP every six to twelve months or as needed to reflect any changes in your procedures and identify areas where improvements can be made. This ensures that the document remains relevant, and your organization stays on track to achieve its big-picture goals.

Make customized & shareable SOPs with Scribe

Scribe is a process documentation tool that streamlines the SOP creation process, from start to finish. It’s suitable for anyone in your organization to create and share SOPs — all in a few seconds.


One of the biggest reasons Scribe makes a great SOP software is it gives you a single solution to common SOP-related challenges. This includes:

  • Incorrect or outdated SOPs: You can use Scribe to record your process, after which it’ll auto-generate step-by-step guides documenting what’s been done, including annotated screenshots and captions. This helps simplify scheduling regular audits and solicitings feedback.
  • Incompatible or inflexible SOPs: Scribe facilitates communication and collaboration. It allows you to track how often people use the SOPs, helping you identify documents that require further tweaking and remove ones that are just plain dead.
  • Overly long or complicated SOPs: Scribe Pages lets you break down a larger process by adding multiple SOPs to one document. This way, you’ll have a complete and comprehensive document that won’t leave the end users overwhelmed or confused.
  • Time-consuming compliance: Scribe is an SOP generator that does the legwork for you. You simply have to go through a process once after turning the recorder on, after which the platform will automatically turn it into a step-by-step visual guide. Scribes are easy to edit, share and embed, plus there’s a universal update feature which means one change goes a long way.
  • Hard to create and share: If you’re finding it difficult to get started, Scribe has a pre-made SOP template to save time. And of course, you can also build multiple templates for different departments and topics using Scribe to serve different use cases. 

The end result? Detailed, easy and uncomplicated SOPs like this template.

‎Ready to write an SOP? Get Scribe for free to begin.

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