Now that we’ve all had a forced trial run of working from home (thanks coronavirus), you may have noticed how vital it is to have a system that can keep your team moving forward while everyone’s apart.
Systems are vital not only in work-from-home scenarios, but in any business scenario. And for us, a good system starts with a Standard Operating Procedure or SOP.
An SOP explains how to do a routine task or process in a step-by-step fashion. It’s a guideline for employees so they can produce a consistent work product. It’s also key to maintaining consistency and efficiency in your business. We’d even go so far as to call it your business MVP.
The SOP is your biz MVP
Yes, that’s right, your Most Valuable Player. Good SOPs might even be more valuable than an extra team member.
Don’t get us wrong, we love people and enjoy working with them. But people are unpredictable. They change, have bad days, forget how to do things or leave for other jobs. The only real constant in your business is YOU.
And like most entrepreneurs, you probably…
- Keep important information in your head
- Feel it’s faster to do things yourself instead of delegating
- Hesitate to bring in employees or contractors because you’d have to train them
- Depend on your supervision to ensure everything’s done right
We can relate, but we’ve also seen how well SOPs can address these issues with a very simple document.
How your business can benefit from SOPs
While an SOP is a simple document, it offers many benefits, the biggest of which are higher consistency and greater efficiency. And getting better in these 2 areas will allow your business to grow faster.
That brings us to the first item on our list of benefits.
> Grow your business faster with a more efficient workflow
Every business owner has wished they could clone themselves to get things done. Until that day comes, the next best thing is to get the information out of our heads and on paper.
Even complex procedures can be broken down into simpler routines. If you have one person handle part 1, another take care of part 2 and you review the final product, you’ll spend less time with your hands on it and maintain the same high standards. Over time, you’ll have a more efficient workflow, a consistent product and happy customers.
> Get better results with a consistent work product
Consistency in meeting quality standards is actually one of the main reasons why SOPs were first used. The other is compliance. For manufacturing plants, pharmaceutical companies and others, SOPs are much more technical and are vital to ensure the final product is within quality guidelines and regulations. They’ve used SOPs for years to do this. You can do the same, no matter the size of your business.
Do you use the same process to onboard new customers? Create an SOP. Have a multi-step process to ensure quality control? Use an SOP. Need a system to keep various team members working together on a final product? Set up an SOP.
> Improve team management and communication
Teams work more smoothly together when there are systems and SOPs in place. I’ve managed email marketing promotions, for example, with various SOPs. One tells the writer what is needed and how to submit her work, another gives the graphic designer direction on standard brand designs for these types of promotions, and the last gives the assistant a list on how to format the message in an email promotion and schedule it for delivery. Each person does their part and “passes the baton” to the next through a project management system and SOPs.
> Protect the future of your business
Believe it or not, standard operating procedures can even protect the future or the continuity of your business. If you lose knowledgeable employees, for example, having SOPs means their knowledge of the process stays with you. With SOPs it’s also easier to train new employees and keep the business running smoothly if you’re out on vacation (remember those?) or out sick.
> Identify areas for improvement
Creating an SOP is also a good time to spot areas for improvement, especially if you’re working with an experienced consultant or an Online Business Manager like me. I’ve created SOPs for a variety of businesses and can make recommendations for the highest efficiencies.
Have questions about out how SOPs can help your business? Let us know below or send an email.