You Need SOPs to Be The Best

Aaron Clements | Nov. 12, 2020, 10:37 p.m.

Growing a business from startup to a legitimate company is hard work and requires extreme adaptability along the way. There’s unavoidable chaos when you’re small because it’s usually a few people wearing multiple hats and not enough money to hire more help. But as a business grows into a real company with more people, departments and more defined roles the major challenge is how you scale while eliminating the chaos that comes with growth.

Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs as they’re commonly referred to, are a linchpin in your brand’s ability to grow because the complexity increases with more people and higher volume. This can’t be overstated and I’m sure many reading this will relate to an experience where they’ve worked for a company in a high growth trajectory but it was absolute insanity.

The problem brands face is they are always so entrenched in the madness of “now” that they never stop to make sure their business processes can handle the change. Oftentimes brands adopt technology before they create scalable processes and end up wasting money. There are definitely plug and play systems that anyone can turn on but when it comes to ERP and more complex systems it’s wise to get your processes honed in ahead of time.

The madness of “now” is a major reason brands don’t make time for SOP development

 

At Toyota one of their tenets of operating is to work out all processes before adding technology, even if it means manual steps. This ensures you get the processes right and know what you want from the technology to best serve your needs.

The main benefits of developing SOPs while you grow are as follows.

  • Shows holes and inefficiencies in current processes
  • Identifies where you need cross training
  • Exposes inconsistency in process steps
  • Shows where money is potentially being wasted
  • Validates or invalidates need for new technology
  • Enables scale of your business if implemented and adhered to

The part about adhering to your SOPs is the most important. Consistent execution is everything.

Here are the core elements of development and implementation.

  • Determine where SOPs are most needed in your business. Just ask your team where things will break with growth or if the person who does the task is gone.
  • Start with a flow chart, or process map, to see the big picture. This can be done by hand or in something like Google Slides.

  

 

  • Create an outline or table of contents for the SOP

 

  • Identify the owner and creator of the process. This can be multiple people.
  • Use screenshots in your SOPs so they match the screens or interfaces people will actually see during the process
  • Color code your screenshots to match the specific steps

 

 

  • Think linear, start to finish with decision points along the way. Someone should be able to read an SOP and hit every step with visuals and procedures for when something goes wrong.
  • Store them on a shared drive so everyone can access them
  • Print them out so each person has a copy to reference in training or when covering for another employee
  • Setup a regular review schedule to validate relevance, update ownership and retrain

Keep in mind there is no perfect way to do an SOP as long as it fits your business, can be used to train new people and ensure consistency in your processes.

Start simple then expand from there!

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