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6 Steps for Writing an SOP

Step directions or customary working procedures are important for constant and protected operations — however they aren’t all the time the best job to jot down! You additionally wish to guarantee instructions are easy, so that they’re adopted.

Let’s first break down what an SOP is. We’ll then go into six steps to make the SOP writing course of so simple as attainable.

What’s an SOP?

Customary working procedures (SOP) are step-by-step directions detailing how staff ought to perform their on a regular basis duties or a enterprise course of.

The primary sectors that use SOPs are manufacturing and warehousing, however SOPs are additionally present in eating places, schooling, and inns.

Listed here are some examples and the aim of every:

  • Restaurant SOP: The aim is to ship high-quality meals from the kitchen.
  • Educating SOP: The intent is to teach college students utilizing the very best methodology.
  • Buyer Service SOP: The target is to rapidly resolve buyer points beneath the “first name receipt” initiative.
  • New Worker SOP: The purpose is to acclimate new staff throughout their first week on the firm.
  • Gross sales Acquisition SOP: The goal is to transform certified leads within the funnel into gross sales alternatives. The gross sales course of. 

Even when your organization has an SOP template, there are key steps for writing an SOP that we suggest following:


Write your personal SOP and get professional teacher suggestions.

Our technical foundations course is out there for people and teams on-line, nearly, and onsite.

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Step #1: Outline your viewers

You have to step deeply into the footwear of your supposed reader for normal working procedures.

Return in time to if you had been a beginner in your workspace. Bear in mind what it felt like to not know learn how to navigate on the job. Together with your expertise in thoughts, reply these questions:

  • Who’s my reader or end-user?
  • What do I need them to know/do? 

Use the reply to the final query to pinpoint the doc’s objective. 

Additionally, ask for help from material consultants (SMEs) throughout the group to make sure high quality requirements are met. These consultants is likely to be in Advertising and marketing, IT, Human Assets, and so on. Administration leaders must be concerned within the course of. 

Pose the next inquiries to your self and your SMEs to find out why a selected SOP is required:

  • What are the issue areas in on a regular basis work practices?
  • What are the widespread missteps for staff?
  • Is security a difficulty?
  • Is your group challenged with assembly requirements?
  • Are you arising in opposition to technical points?

Write down the solutions to those questions and allow them to information your content material. For instance, maybe your goal reader is all staff within the firm. You are writing an emergency process for a hearth drill.

The aim of the fireplace drill process is to assist the reader perceive the place everybody ought to go within the case of a fireplace drill, noting particular routes and providing alternate options. 

Trace: Assessment current insurance policies and procedures and incorporate info from these paperwork if wanted to make sure consistency. 

Step #2: Plan and arrange your content material

Subsequent, generate content material concepts. Possibly you already know what complicated steps and detailed directions have to be included. Write them down. Or maybe it is advisable to do extra analysis. Proceed to interview SMEs or group members to find out crucial duties or primary steps.

Arrange all of this data into a top level view or idea map (a superb visible strategy to arrange complicated concepts). Categorize and sequence the data. Place “like content material with like content material.” Additionally, create headings that briefly summarize the contents of every part.

Business Process Mind Map Planning Example


For added assist, take a look at some well-rated instruments, both free or accessible for a small month-to-month payment: ProcedureFlow, Course of Road, and Methodology Grid.

Associated: Methods to Enhance Your Process Writing


Step #3: Choose a format

Choose an SOP format that can assist the reader simply digest the data:

  • Fundamental Guidelines: This format is good for easy routine procedures. It calls for brief, simple steps. These will be displayed within the type of a bulleted or numbered listing. It is useful as a easy steps format. 
  • Complicated Guidelines: Processes which might be sophisticated name for a extra broad degree of element. Envision a primary guidelines however with branches of tiered particulars that fall beneath every step, akin to Step 1a, Step 1b, and so on. This hierarchical steps format improves the move when coping with strategies which might be complicated and/or multi-contributors to writing an SOP.
  • Course of Circulate Diagram: This diagram, generally known as the flowchart format, appeals to readers who want illustrations. On this mode, processes are charted from begin to end within the type of a map. Containers point out the steps, and every is related by arrows to plot the pathway. This mapping with software program corporations like Miro makes it colourful, simple to observe, and enjoyable to construct. Beneath is an instance SOP move chart:

Process Format for SOP Example


You could possibly additionally mix a visible format with a written one. Whichever format you select, the content material would be the greatest consider your success.

Step #4: Write your draft

Together with your content material plan in place, time to jot down the precise content material (this must be the straightforward half if you happen to had been thorough in your planning).

Here are our greatest suggestions for writing your first SOP draft:

  • Use lively voice over passive voice, as that is extra partaking for the reader. 
  • Embody a desk of contents to assist the reader simply navigate the content material.
  • Add particular headings. These are the pure antidote to info overload. Additionally they information your desk of contents. 
  • Insert bulleted gadgets. Bulleted lists add white house and assist arrange your content material.
  • Embody detailed steps. Add detailed directions or your listing of steps in a hierarchical format. 
  • Use quick phrases to reinforce readability and keep away from jargon. 

The following customary working process instance is for the Central Fireplace Safety District of Santa Cruz Counties’ personnel working autos. It outlines the scope, objective, definitions, and so on., of utilizing these autos to implement security legal guidelines and the security of the drivers.

SOP Writing Example


Discover how this SOP contains the aim of the doc on the high, so the reader is aware of what to anticipate earlier than studying. The author integrated clear headings and white house via using bulleted lists and paragraphs to create digestible content material.

Trace: Do not edit the doc till you have completed writing. Making an attempt to edit and write on the similar time sometimes makes you are feeling caught and pissed off within the course of. 

Step #5: Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Time for high quality assurance or high quality management. Enable group members to observe the process and ask for suggestions. Establish any issues, akin to lacking steps, and revise procedures if wanted.

You may arrange a testing setting in considered one of two methods:

  • Choice #1 Particular person, Personal Suggestions: Present a separate Phrase Doc to every of your testers. They are going to undergo the SOP course of and supply particular person suggestions via the enhancing of the doc. Suggestions is personal.
  • Choice #2 Collective, Group Suggestions: Present a Google Doc that’s accessible to all testers. Every individual will undergo the SOP course of and supply suggestions that the whole group can see. Suggestions is centralized.

Maintain an open thoughts. You want extra enter to enhance your output. Writing an SOP is, indisputably, a extremely iterative course of. Collaboration additionally offers a way of possession and constant outcomes. 


Step #6: Edit for substance, grammar, and readability

As soon as you have examined your SOP, totally edit your doc. Begin by reviewing the substance once more. Does it match your reader’s wants and the aim you recognized at the start? Is it simple to know? Replace or revise if wanted.

Subsequent, edit for grammar. We all the time suggest utilizing a grammar examine, akin to Grammarly. This device helps just be sure you haven’t any careless errors, particularly in vital paperwork.

Comprehension can be key with an SOP. Think about using a readability device — that’s even higher than a colleague combing via your each phrase.

Associated: 10 Forms of Technical Writing

Closing Phrases for Writing an SOP

As you’ll be able to see, the whole strategy of writing customary working procedures must be methodical. 

Comply with the above step directions: fastidiously plan out your viewers and SOP objective, generate your content material, write out detailed steps, and obtain the assist of consultants and instruments if you want them.

Lastly, preserve your process doc updated by reviewing and doubtlessly revising it a minimum of as soon as per 12 months (make sure that it nonetheless meets the coverage necessities).


What ought to an SOP embody?

An SOP ought to clearly clarify the steps required to finish a job or inner course of, together with any instruments, supplies, security tips, and assets (like a easy guidelines) wanted. Moreover, an SOP might embody definitions of phrases used within the doc or hyperlinks to reference paperwork that readers may must seek the advice of to know the SOP.

What shouldn’t be included in an SOP?

An SOP shouldn’t comprise directions that might be higher suited to a handbook, akin to detailed descriptions of learn how to use particular software program. Moreover, an SOP shouldn’t embody subjective opinion or commentary that’s not straight associated to the duty at hand.

What’s the distinction between an SOP vs a coverage?

A coverage is a broad assertion of intent, and it outlines the path a company intends to absorb normal. It could additionally information actions which might be prohibited or discouraged. An SOP, in contrast, is a extra particular step-by-step information doc that gives detailed directions on learn how to full a specific job. An SOP contains precise steps and directions that enable customers to know precisely what must be accomplished.

Why do we’d like Customary Working Procedures?

Customary working process doc (SOPs) present a constant set of directions for finishing a job. With out SOPs, duties could also be accomplished in a different way every time, leading to confusion and inconsistency. With an SOP, there’s a single doc that can be utilized to coach new staff or function a reference when wanted.

When do you have to create an SOP?

It is vital to create an SOP at any time when there’s a job or inner course of that must be accomplished regularly. This could possibly be one thing like a month-to-month monetary report, or each day upkeep of apparatus within the workplace. This fashion, anybody who wants to finish the duty can accomplish that rapidly and precisely by following the directions within the SOP.

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