Purpose of a Standard Operating Procedure Template

When it comes to business documents, simplicity is often best. This equally applies to standard operating procedures (SOPs). They should be easy to read, organized, and concise. SOPs are also more beneficial when their formatting is consistent for all departments. The best way to achieve all of the above is to use an SOP template.

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Who Uses SOPs?

Every department in every company uses some form of SOPs, so the same SOP template should be used throughout the organization. The SOP language and formatting may vary slightly based on the department, but if the template is simple enough it should be adaptable and still retain the necessary level of consistency.

Creating SOP Templates

  • Talk to every department: An SOP template needs to work for every department in an organization, so it’s important to first determine the specific purpose and needs of each department.
  • Determine what metadata you need: What identifying information will each SOP need? Usually an SOP includes the name of the organization, a title, document number, revision number, signature of approver, etc.
  • Determine which sections must be included (and which are optional): An SOP template generally has sections for its purpose, scope, definitions, responsibilities, procedures, and revision history. Some sections (such as definitions) should be labeled as optional since they might not be necessary for every SOP.
  • Determine how the SOPs will be managed: The SOP template may need to change as an organization grows. Who will determine what changes are necessary and who will spearhead the implementation of those changes?

Importance of SOP Manuals

An SOP manual is the centralized location where all SOPs are kept. For many organizations, this still takes the form of a binder with paper copies of each SOP. However, an SOP manual is most effective when it is electronic. An electronic SOP manual is easier to revise, store, and retrieve the most up-to-date versions of the SOPs.

Features of SOP Formats

  • Metadata: Some examples of metadata include the name of the procedure, version number, department, name and signature of approver, and review dates.
  • Authorization: Including who authorized the SOP simplifies the revision and approval processes. The SOP template should require the authorizer to both write out and sign his or her name.
  • References to relevant SOPs: Most SOPs reference other SOPs to some degree. If the SOPs are printed, the name and document number of the other SOPs should be included. If the SOPs are electronic, links to the other SOPs should be included as well.
  • Procedures: The procedures section of the SOP template should be flexible to accommodate the difference in complexities of procedures across the various departments.

MasterControl and SOPs

Paper-based processes have no shortage of limitations, and the same is true of paper-based SOPs. An electronic SOP is always going to be more effective and efficient than a binder. The MasterControl Documents™ and MasterControl Process™ solutions not only provide organizations with electronic templates that can easily be adapted across departments, they also make it much easier for companies to update and track their SOPs by keeping the documents in a centralized location with controlled access.

FDA and MasterControl

Organizations all over the world use MasterControl software solutions to ensure compliance – including organizations that enforce compliance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became a MasterControl customer in 2009. Since then, the FDA has expanded its use and now multiple divisions of the agency use MasterControl solutions.