A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a collection of instructions for a businesses processes, emphasizing the legal and regulatory issues associated with the process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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