If you didn’t know it already, I’m obsessed with standard operating procedures (SOPs). And if you are not, then you should be. They are the foundation to building reliable systems, quality control, consistency, and efficiency for your business. They are the difference between you being able to lead (or step away from) your business, and constantly getting pulled into the details or calming unnecessary fires with your clients.
What are SOPs?
SOPs are a documentation of a procedure which outline the steps necessary to perform a particular task. They should be:
- Fully written out or created in conjunction with screensharing video or screenshots for ease of creation, use, and accuracy.
- Created in the format that makes the most sense for the information you are trying to convey (how to, checklist, or step by step).
- Placed together to document an entire system piece by piece (and over time so it’s not as daunting).
- Created consistently for anyone to follow, and stored together for easy reference to any part of your business. (Think table of contents in a reference book.)
While they may seem like an extra step or unnecessary to-do (and perhaps not the most effective use of time), below are the top reasons why your business needs them.
- Maintain consistency and high standards. Your reputation and client success depends on it. They make the results predictable, eliminate errors, and increase productivity of team members.
- Ease the transition and training of new team members (or coverage in a pinch situation). SOPs help new team members learn their responsibilities and provide clear guidance on the tasks that need to be completed—without having to reach out to you or another team member. Even if you have your tried-and-true team members, it takes the “what if the proverbial bus comes” if someone else needs to step in.
- Allow you to scale your business practices with greater efficiencies. They can be re-used as is or modified based on specific client requirements.
- Maintain quality and consistency across team members. Managing quality is critical for keeping your clients, team, and vendors happy and productive.
- Keep you in the CEO seat. They give you the peace of mind that pieces of your business can run without you, so you can focus on the kinds of projects you need to be focused on (or enjoy the most). On top of that, you can step out of the business for vacation or personal matters.