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Create effective standard operating procedures (SOPs) 7 min read
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With everything you have to accomplish in a day, wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and check off every task on your list? Well, there’s no magic wand for increasing productivity, but standard operating procedures can help you save time on routine tasks. A standard operating procedure (SOP) is also helpful for ensuring consistency and making sure employees are on the same page.

In this article, you’ll find out what an SOP is, what benefits you can derive from using one, and how to create a standard operating procedure of your own. When you finish reading, you’ll feel confident in your ability to create an SOP and explain to team members why they should follow it.

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What is a standard operating procedure (SOP)?

In business, an SOP is a step-by-step process employees follow when performing routine activities. SOP documentation covers a wide variety of policies, business processes, and procedures. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using SOPs in the workplace.

Benefits of using SOPs

The main benefit of creating an SOP is to increase consistency. Think of the standing operating procedure as a recipe for success. If you follow a different recipe every time, you won’t produce the same results. Employees who consistently adhere to approved SOPs achieve reliable results. This applies to SOPs in every industry, from manufacturing to scientific research.

Reduced training time

It typically takes new employees anywhere from 8 to 20 weeks to get up to speed on their jobs. One way to help team members get acclimated is to give them SOPs to follow. Each SOP gives inexperienced employees a starting point, making it easier to learn how to accomplish tasks. If you don’t have enough trainers available, an SOP also gives new employees the information they need to learn their jobs.

Better compliance with rules and regulations

Many companies have to follow rules and regulations set by local, state, and federal government agencies. A standard operating procedure provides step-by-step instructions to help employees comply with these requirements. One example is the use of SOPs in the food manufacturing industry. Food manufacturers typically have to follow federal laws regarding food storage and handling. A standard operating procedure can help employees in this industry keep foods at the right temperature or make sure that products are packaged according to guidelines.

Increased productivity

When you perform a task every day, it becomes second nature. That isn’t the case with tasks that you only have to perform once every few weeks or months. Standard operating procedures makes it easier to complete these tasks without having to ask a colleague for assistance or spend time looking for training manuals. As a result, using SOPs can help you get more done in less time, increasing productivity.

Ability to delegate or share tasks

As business needs change, you may need to delegate or share a half-finished task with someone else. Without the hierarchical steps included in an SOP, it would be difficult for the next person to pick up where you left off. When you have SOPs in place, it’s easy to hand off tasks to other people. All you have to do is tell them which steps you’ve finished and ask them to continue with the next step outlined in the SOP.

It’s clear that following standardized operating procedures has benefits for both you and your organization. Now let’s explore the industries that use SOPs most frequently.

Industries that use SOPs

Any company can benefit from using SOPs, but standard operating procedures are well-suited to industries that require high levels of precision and consistency. They’re also used in industries with strict compliance standards. SOPs are especially common in project management, manufacturing, and education.

Project management

Project managers and their team members perform many routine activities, making SOPs an important addition to your project-management toolbox. Well-defined SOPs help team members request project changes, create expense reports, and complete other tasks related to the planning and execution of complex projects.


In the manufacturing industry, employees typically follow SOPs when performing manual or automated tasks. For example, an employee on the assembly line may follow an SOP to prevent accidents and make sure that all products conform to the designer’s specifications. A manufacturing SOP may include several steps, such as clearing the line before turning on machinery, assembling a machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or sending product samples to the QA department.


Educators rely on SOPs to set expectations for students, build positive school cultures, and make sure teachers and administrators treat students fairly. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some schools even had SOPs for responding to positive cases. For example, the Maine Department of Education used an SOP to help school administrators determine when students were required to quarantine.

Now that you know what SOPs are and how they’re used, you’re ready to think about creating your own. SOP Templates eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel.

SOP Template examples to use for your business

With a Standard Operating Procedure Template, it’s easier to create SOPs for a variety of cases. These template examples typically come in three SOP formats: checklist, flowchart, and hierarchical. The checklist format is like any checklist you’d use in the workplace. It contains a list of items that should be checked off as they’re completed.

Hierarchical SOP Templates are used to create step-by-step procedures. Each detailed step may have several components. Flowcharts are ideal for creating SOPs that produce multiple results. A flowchart can help employees determine what step to take next. Once you choose a format, it’s time to write a standard operating procedure of your own. has tools to make it easier.

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Build comprehensive standard operating procedure documentation with

In project management, an SOP ensures everyone follows the same steps to accomplish a routine task. Work OS has tools to help project managers develop comprehensive standard operating procedure documentation. Employees also have access to collaborative tools, enabling them to support each other and share tips for completing tasks successfully.

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Frequently asked questions

What does SOP stand for?

SOP stands for “standard operating procedure.” An SOP provides step-by-step instructions for completing a routine activity.

How to write an SOP

Key elements of the SOP include the title page, table of contents, purpose, procedures, and quality control guidelines. Before writing the SOP, be sure to identify your audience and gain an understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Once you have that information, decide which format to use. If the SOP always has the same outcome, use the hierarchical or checklist format. For SOPs that may produce different results, depending on the circumstances, try the flowchart format.

The final step before you start writing is to observe someone performing the process in real time. This can help you determine the steps to include. As you write the SOP, use bulleted lists, numbered lists, tables, and other elements to keep the information organized and easy to understand.

Every SOP should include a statement about its purpose to help team members understand why it’s important to follow the standardized procedure.

Develop effective SOPs with

Standard operating procedures ensure consistency and make it easier to comply with important rules and regulations. Although SOPs are frequently used in project management, manufacturing, and education, they can be used in any industry. provides templates to help you create an effective standard operating procedure (SOP) and share it with team members.

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