Design and Implement SOP

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.

Imagine for a moment that you work in the customer service department at a grocery store. A customer comes in one day and says they need to return a bag of bread. Most likely, the store you work for already has a set of written rules in place for how to handle this situation. That written set of rules is what is known as a standard operating procedure.

Standard operating procedures are written, step-by-step instructions that describe how to perform a routine activity. Employees should complete them in the exact same way every time so that the business can remain consistent. Standard operating procedures help maintain safety and efficiency for departments such as:

  • Production/operations
  • Sales and customer service
  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Finance

A standing operating procedure should never be difficult to read or vaguely worded. It should be brief, easy to understand and contain actions steps that are simple follow. A good standard operating procedure should clearly outline the steps and inform the employee of any safety concerns.

The standing operating procedures should be the basis for training any new employees. They should also be updated every year to ensure they stay relevant to the current needs of the organization.

Need for SOP

Some business owners have a hard time grasping why standard operating procedures are necessary. They already trained their employees so why do they need a written document outlining the process as well?

  • They save time and money – When the same task is completed in many different ways, it will always take longer to complete. Having a standard operating procedure in place streamlines the process so employees can accomplish more in less time.
  • They provide consistency – Having a standard operating procedure in place ensures that regardless of who is working, business processes are being completed the correct way.
  • They improve communication – Standard operating procedures make your employees’ jobs easier because no longer do they have to guess as to how they should be performing their jobs. And they don’t have to try to rack their brains to remember what you told them when they were first hired.
  • They allow you to hold your employees accountable – How can you evaluate your employees if you don’t have written standards in place? Without standard operating procedures, employee evaluations become a matter of personal opinion, which is hardly fair to your employees.
  • They create a safer work environment – When employees perform the same tasks in completely different ways, it is not only inefficient it is actually a liability for your business. Standard operating procedures ensure that employees perform their job functions in a safe and consistent manner.

Design and develop SOP

Here are five steps to follow when creating your own standard operating procedure:

Step 1 – Develop a list of your business processes

To get started, have the managers talk to your employees about the duties they perform in their jobs every day. This will allow them to begin creating a detailed list of processes that need standard operating procedures.

From there, you can review the list with your managers and look for any redundancies. This list will serve as a starting point for creating your standard operating procedure.

Step 2 – Plan the process

In this step, you will need to decide on a format for your process. Do you want it to be a step-by-step guide or a workflow diagram? From there you can create a template. You will also need to decide how your standard operating procedure will be made visible to your employees. Will you have a written copy posted or will a copy be available online?

Step 3 – Talk with employees

Now that you have your list of processes and you have created your template, you need to talk to your employees. This is important because you can’t fully understand the process unless you have spoken with the people who actually perform it on a daily basis. Only speaking with management is not enough.

Step 4 – Write and review the process

Once you have spoken with your employees, immediately add your notes to the template. From there you can review your standard operating procedure with employees once again and obtain input from your managers. You should also determine who will be responsible for oversight and maintenance of the standard operating procedure.

Keep in mind that all of your standard operating procedures should read the same way while still distinctly describing the functions of each area of your business.

Step 5 – Maintain the process

Your work is not finished once the standard operating procedure is written! In order for it to remain relevant and useful, you must maintain and update it at least once per year.

Tips for Writing SOPs

  • Involve workers: people support what they help create
  • Revise when needed, they should be living documents
  • Use clear, simple language
  • Post SOPs in the workplace, try using plastic sheet protectors
  • Make flowcharts for free, or use Microsoft’s Powerpoint

Implementing SOPs

  • Planning: Think about the steps that are currently done to complete the process. How is it done? Why is it done that way? How will an SOP improve the process? How will you measure performance?
  • First Draft: Make a detailed list of the steps in the order that they are done. This list is now a draft of the procedure.
  • Internal Review: Get input from all workers who now perform the procedure. Give them your first draft but make sure they know that it will still change. Revise the procedure as necessary.
  • External Review: Involve your technical advisors such as your veterinarian, nutritionist, or extension agent; they can give you advice about the best way to do each step. Revise the procedure as necessary.
  • Testing: Test the procedure by doing each step exactly as it says. Have a person not familiar with the work follow the procedure. Revise as necessary.
  • Posting: Make a final draft of the procedure and post in the workplace.
  • Training: Train or re-train everyone as necessary to follow the procedure exactly.

Sample E-commerce Logistics SOP


1. Collecting of loads from co-loader/Transport.

2. Tallying of loads with the E-file received from origin

3. Segregation of loads as per route plan with FIFO.

4. Uploading of loads route wise in the system.

5. Handing over of shipments to delivery staff with printed DRS in duplicate. Also undelivered shipments for re-attempt as per telecalling confirmation.

6. Receipt/signature of shipments with details of total cash to be collected.

7. Telecalling and confirmation from COD customers to ensure availability with COD amount.


1. Tallying of Delivery Run sheets.

2. Tele checking of undelivered shipments.

3. Uploading of pods.

4. Receipt of cash versus delivery.

5. Uploading of details of undelivered shipments with reason.

6. Tele calling for undelivered shipments for re-attempt.

7. RTO as per TAT and set policy.

Management Basics

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