Standard Operating Procedure Management & Solutions

2021.10.18 09:40 PM By Joshua Taddeo, Principal Consultant
operations management and standard operating procedures

Even the most effective processes don't operate autonomously. The key to harnessing their full potential lies in the recruitment of personnel aptly suited for specific roles, as human resources are an organization's most invaluable asset. These individuals shoulder the responsibility for delivering results, yet everyone's capabilities have limits. Optimal outcomes are achievable predominantly when those at the helm provide lucid directives to their subordinates. Consistency in those directions as well as onboarding and training materials often comes down to having a solid set of standard operating procedures written by process optimization experts

Standard Operating Procedures serve as a blueprint for consistency and efficiency in business operations. By setting clear, detailed guidelines, they ensure that every team member, regardless of their level of experience or tenure, can perform tasks correctly and consistently. This streamlines the workflow and minimizes the room for error, leading to more predictable and satisfactory outcomes.

Even when most businesses are dynamic and at times chaotic in challenging times, SOPs provide a sense of stability and clarity. They act as a reference point, helping employees navigate through routine tasks as well as unexpected challenges, ensuring that the company’s standards and quality of service are upheld. Thus, the importance of SOPs extends far beyond just being a set of instructions; they are an integral component of an organization's framework for achieving operational excellence and driving sustainable growth.

What Are Standard Operating Procedures?

As business becomes primarily remote in nature, it is no longer appropriate to limit work within the confines of the office. Standard operating procedures give employees the flexibility they need to work effectively anywhere while maintaining significant productivity results. Well define processes and procedures means faster onboarding of new talent, less oversight of employee work, and consistent results that include necessary data to improve operations over time when logged in project management platforms. 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are meticulously crafted guidelines that outline the specific steps employees should follow when executing various tasks, such as planning and day-to-day operations. These procedures are pivotal in structuring an organization's workflow, ensuring consistency and efficiency across all levels of operation.

At their core, SOPs serve as a roadmap for employees, offering clear instructions on how to perform tasks correctly. This clarity is crucial, as studies have shown that workers can lose an average of six hours per week due to disorganization and an additional five hours due to poor communication. By standardizing processes, SOPs significantly mitigate these losses, streamlining communication and reducing confusion in the workplace.

Moreover, SOPs contribute to creating an effortless and organized work environment, which is known to boost productivity. When employees need to complete a task, they can refer to these procedures to act swiftly and coordinate effectively with their team. This access to organized, readily available information empowers employees, fostering autonomy and initiative. Remember with remote teams it's important to embed these SOPs directly in the platforms where they handle the work so that they are never more than just a click away.

The storage and accessibility of SOPs are equally important. They must be stored securely yet be easily accessible to all relevant personnel. If SOPs are difficult to access or poorly organized, it can hinder the workflow, potentially slowing down project timelines and affecting long-term company performance. SOPs are more than just documents; they are a vital component of a business’s operational infrastructure. They not only guide employees in their daily tasks but also play a critical role in enhancing overall organizational efficiency, communication, and productivity.
operations strategies for SOP management

What Is Standard Operating Procedure Software?

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) software is an innovative tool designed to digitize and manage an organization's SOPs. Its primary aim is to create a centralized resource where all SOPs are captured, stored, and easily accessible to employees including those working remotely. This software plays a crucial role in ensuring that the workflows and processes of an organization are documented and standardized, contributing significantly to the overall efficiency and consistency of operations.

One of the key features of SOP software is its portability and accessibility. It's essential for employees to have the ability to access important information and procedures at any time and from any location, without any obstacles. SOP software often addresses this need by being cloud-based, which allows for remote access. This feature is particularly important as it enables authorized team members to retrieve and follow SOPs regardless of their physical location, thereby promoting productivity and adaptability in various work settings.

The shift from traditional, paper-based SOP management to cloud-based software represents a significant advancement in how businesses operate. With work no longer confined to a physical space, SOP software facilitates a more flexible and dynamic work environment. Employees can be productive anytime and anywhere, which is increasingly important in a world where remote and hybrid work models are becoming more prevalent.

In essence, SOP software is not just a repository for procedures; it's a vital component of an organization's operational framework, enhancing accessibility, improving communication, and supporting a modern, agile workforce.

Why Businesses Need Standardized Operating Procedures

Understanding the need for standardized operating procedures helps companies measure results in terms of productivity, efficiency, and other key metrics, such as customer satisfaction and customer service. When you couple SOPs with tracking technology like project management systems, customer service ticketing platforms, and other time tracking tools, you end up with all the necessary data to identify and fix the bottlenecks in your process. 

Tackling Organizational Problems

  • An organizational problem can be divided into two areas: known and unknown. Most organizations deal with the former, and it is best to work on solutions for problems that you are already familiar with.
  • Sometimes unknown things that get out of control remain invisible until the disaster they cause comes suddenly.
  • Despite not being negligent, we do not usually see the signs, and the consequences end up affecting our company negatively. 
  • Before your company is experiencing hard times, you should start thinking about doing things differently. You will need to standardize your operations, evaluate current processes, and document necessary changes in your workflow to make the invisible seen.
what are SOPs

Let’s delve into these common areas of the business. They might give us insights on how to handle them effectively with standard operating procedures in place.

1. Hiring New Employees

Sometimes, hiring external talent for a job is a waste of time when you have existing resources that are happy to take on a new challenge. You may have a better chance of getting the results from those who you have already hired because they understand the company, the goals, and also how to deal with the standard operating procedures developed for their new role. Whether you hire new team members or promote/role change existing resources, standard operating procedures reduce disruption by supporting onboarding, role changes, and updated processes as they are rolled out.

importance of Standardized Operating Procedures

2. Managing Growth

Navigating the complexities of business growth and change can be challenging, especially when processes that were once effective start to falter. This situation often arises when a company expands, leading to existing procedures becoming inadequate or outdated. It's not that these processes are inherently inefficient; rather, they no longer align with the evolving needs of the business. Recognizing this misalignment is crucial, as growth, though a marker of success, can render previously successful strategies less effective.

This evolution necessitates a reevaluation and adjustment of the company's operational procedures. The formula for success is not static; it needs to evolve as the company's dynamics change. When a business outgrows its current processes, it's imperative to undertake a thorough reassessment and adopt a new approach that better suits its expanded scope and altered needs.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are instrumental in this transition. They provide a structured framework that can be updated and scaled to meet the changing demands of a growing business. By regularly reviewing and updating SOPs, a company ensures that its processes remain efficient, relevant, and effective, even as it undergoes significant changes or expansion.

Furthermore, as a solution provider within your organization, part of your role involves identifying and implementing these necessary updates. Whether consciously or not, adapting and refining SOPs is integral to maintaining operational excellence and supporting sustainable growth. In essence, SOPs are not just about maintaining current standards; they are dynamic tools that facilitate adaptation and evolution in response to business growth and change.

3. Encouraging Autonomy

Fostering a competent and autonomous workforce is vital for any business's success. While the ideal of having a perfect team might seem unattainable, it's essential to develop a group of trusted individuals who can confidently take the reins when needed. Circumstances such as short absences, or more significant changes like a leadership transition, require employees who are prepared to step up and manage the company's operations smoothly.

It's a common challenge in business that employees might not always deliver the same quality of service or perform tasks with the same proficiency as you, the business leader. However, this shouldn't be a discouraging factor. Instead, it's an opportunity to reassess and improve your systems to cultivate an environment where autonomy is not only possible but flourishes.

Realizing that no two individuals perform identically is key. Each employee brings their unique strengths to the table. As a leader, your role extends beyond just managing the business; it involves empowering your employees to take responsibility and excel in their roles. This requires moving away from a mindset of constant supervision or 'babysitting' and towards one of guidance and trust.

SOPs play a crucial role in this transition. They provide a clear, detailed framework for employees to follow, ensuring that all tasks are performed to a high standard, even in your absence. This consistency in processes and expectations alleviates the concern about variable work quality and allows employees to execute their responsibilities with confidence and professionalism.

Furthermore, SOPs enable employees to not just match but potentially exceed the established performance standards. With well-defined procedures in place, employees have a roadmap to success, allowing them to focus on refining their skills and improving their efficiency.

Ultimately, SOPs are more than just operational guides; they are tools for building a resilient, self-reliant workforce. They ensure continuity in business operations, regardless of personnel changes, and support the development of a team capable of maintaining, and even enhancing, the business's success without constant oversight.
managing a team

4. Measuring Work Performance

A crucial aspect of assessing your company's overall performance lies in effectively measuring employee productivity. It's a common misconception that being busy equates to being productive. However, there's a significant difference between the two. Productivity is not just about the time spent on tasks, but rather the results achieved. In this context, it becomes essential to differentiate between mere activity and genuine productivity.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) play a vital role in this differentiation. They provide a clear benchmark for what constitutes productive work. By establishing specific guidelines and expected outcomes for various tasks, SOPs enable managers to assess whether employees are not just active, but actively contributing to the company's goals.

Tracking employee performance against the standards set by SOPs can offer insightful data on work efficiency. This tracking isn't about micromanagement or scrutinizing every minute of an employee's day. Instead, it's about understanding how effectively time and resources are being utilized to meet deadlines and achieve long-term objectives. Employees should be encouraged to focus on outcome-oriented work, where the emphasis is on the quality and impact of their output rather than just the hours logged.

5. Improving Workflows

One of the key strengths of SOP software lies in its ability to systematically document processes. This includes outlining standard approaches and steps for tasks, thereby making these processes easily accessible and understandable for all employees. Such comprehensive documentation is critical in reducing ambiguity and ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding how tasks should be executed.

When a change is necessary, these documents can be used to compare existing processes against new and improved workflows. Sometimes it's important to break down the process entirely and start from scratch; however, more often a problem exists in only a small section of the existing process. The documentation makes updating workflows after identifying issues a breeze and helps the team understand exactly what changed and where in the process to adjust their day-to-day operations.

managing workflows

6. Access Control & Version History in SOP Management

Maintaining control over who can access and edit these crucial documents is paramount. Access control is a critical feature that ensures SOPs are not only protected from unauthorized edits but also that the right personnel have the appropriate level of access to these documents. This aspect of SOP management is crucial for preserving the integrity and reliability of the procedures.

Effective access control involves setting permissions and roles within the SOP management system. For example, while some employees may only need 'read-only' access to follow the procedures, others, such as team leaders or managers, may require higher access levels to update or approve changes. This hierarchical approach to access ensures that SOPs are modified only by qualified individuals, reducing the risk of erroneous information being disseminated.

Equally important is the version history of SOPs. As procedures evolve and change, it's essential to keep track of these modifications for several reasons. Firstly, version history provides a clear audit trail of what changes were made, when, and by whom. This transparency is crucial for accountability and for understanding the evolution of a procedure over time.

Secondly, version history is invaluable for reverting to previous versions of an SOP, if needed. In complex operational environments, changes to procedures might have unforeseen consequences. The ability to quickly revert to an earlier, proven version of an SOP can be critical for maintaining operational stability.

Additionally, maintaining a comprehensive version history aids in compliance and quality assurance. In many industries, being able to demonstrate how an SOP has changed over time is a regulatory requirement. It also helps in conducting reviews and audits, ensuring that procedures are up-to-date and meet the necessary standards.

Benefits of A Standard Operating Procedure

A lot has been said about wanting to make your customers and employees happy; however, that doesn’t really say much about improving your business. Businesses aim for more profit and more customers. This can be done by starting with your company’s operating procedures. SOP software gives you an insight into whether your employees are productive or not and how that can affect your company’s position in the market. To improve your business, you need to keep track of these things. 


The most competent employees can only achieve so much. However, they can thrive, and their performance can become exceptional if they are equipped with the right productivity tools. These tools are an integral part of modern business, and that is what you need to look for in SOP software to avoid wasting your resources. Discover the properties of effective SOP software, its advantages, and disadvantages.


At Universal Creative solutions, our operations consulting services help you refine your standard operating procedures for smoother operations and provide better employee and customer management. We introduce new solutions for your business such as highly effective software and tools so that you can choose the right ones for better business scalability and resilience, and ensure that your business achieves great success in the long run.