5 SOP examples for your business

While every employee brings their own special talents and perspectives to their job roles, things can get disorganized when everyone is taking a different approach to completing your company’s core business processes. In order to produce more consistent results and streamline your internal operations, it can be beneficial to create standard operating procedures for everyone to follow.

Implementing and documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs) is a great way to make sure that all staff members are completing their tasks in the correct manner. SOPs are an excellent tool for small business owners looking to take their business process management to the next level. However, writing them can be an intimidating task. To help you visualize what an SOP should look like and include, we’ve created five simple SOP examples.

What is an SOP?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a detailed document with step-by-step instructions on how to properly complete a task. The purpose of an SOP document is to ensure that all workflows are completed in a consistent manner to improve efficiency, safety, compliance, profitability, and product or service quality. SOPs help save time and make sure that tasks are completed in a uniform manner.

You can create SOPs for a wide range of business processes. More complex processes can even be broken up into multiple SOPs to detail different tasks within a larger process. The goal is to make your documentation thorough enough that any employee that follows it will end up completing the task in the same manner with a consistent end result. However, you also want them to be concise enough that they aren’t too overwhelming to follow — so don’t be afraid to break them up into smaller tasks and procedures.

How to format an SOP

SOP formats can vary. An SOP document can be a simple set of work instructions or a more intricate document with hierarchical flowcharts. If the work that your employees do is highly technical or involves special safety or compliance concerns, you may need to craft more in-depth SOPs in order to properly convey the appropriate procedures.

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The key is to provide a clear explanation of the intended use of the SOP, what stakeholders are involved in the business process being documented, and a thorough yet easy-to-follow set of directions for completing each specific task. If you make heavy use of acronyms or industry jargon it can also help to define some of the key terms used in each process.

Take a look at the following examples to see what a basic SOP should look like. You can use these as a template for your own SOPs or create your own SOP template.

SOP Example 1 – Employee onboarding

Purpose

The purpose of this standard operating procedure is to define the new employee onboarding process and the responsibilities of the HR staff and department leads in orienting new hires to the organization.

Scope

This Standard Operating Procedure details all of the steps that must be taken to onboard all new hires to the company.

Responsible parties

It’s the responsibility of the HR Manager to ensure that all onboarding paperwork is complete in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws and that new hire orientation is conducted. It is the responsibility of each department lead to provide department-specific training and onboarding to new employees. The HR department will own this SOP and update it as needed.

Terms and definitions

New hire refers to any new employees beginning employment at the company. This includes rehires who were previously employed at the company but terminated their employment for a period of time.

HR is used as an abbreviation for human resources throughout this document.

Procedure

  1. Schedule an HR orientation with the new employee to occur on the first day of their employment.

  2. Coordinate with department manager to schedule department-specific onboarding meetings and review additional training needs.

  3. Prepare all necessary logins and documents for the new hire.

  4. Conduct the HR orientation to orient the new employee with the timekeeping and payroll software, necessary paperwork, and internal resources.

  5. Provide each new hire with all necessary onboarding documents including i9 forms, tax forms, and the employee handbook acknowledgment form.

  6. Check the completed onboarding paperwork for accuracy and completion.

  7. Follow up with the new employee at the end of their first week to offer assistance as needed.

Related documents

  1. W4 Form

  1. I9 Form

  2. Direct Deposit Form

  3. Employee Handbook and Acknowledgement Form

Example 2 – Posting a job opening

Purpose

The purpose of this Standard Operating Procedure is to establish a process for posting a job opening for the company on the company’s website as well as the major job search platforms.

Scope

This Standard Operating Procedure details the process that Recruiters and HR staff should follow when creating and posting a job opening for the company.

Responsible parties

The HR and Recruiting teams are responsible for the creation of each job post. Recruiters are responsible for posting each role and reviewing submissions to the posts. Department leads and management staff are responsible for working with HR and Recruiting to develop thorough job descriptions that accurately reflect the needs of the department.

Terms and definitions

ATS is used as an abbreviation for applicant tracking system throughout this document.

HR is used as an abbreviation for human resources throughout this document.

Procedure

  1. Verify with leadership that the job opening is approved to be filled.

  2. Coordinate with the department manager to craft a job description that accurately reflects the duties of the role and necessary qualifications.

  3. Draft the job description and submit it for approval to the HR Director

  4. Once approved, input the job title, description, and salary range into the ATS.

  5. Select to distribute the job posting to Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and other sites relevant to the role.

  6. Verify that the posting is live on the selected sites.

  7. Encourage internal staff to share the opening with their networks.

Related documents

  1. ATS user guide

  2. Company job description template

Example 3 – Adding a new customer into the system

Purpose

The purpose of this Standard Operating Procedure is to guide employees in accurately creating new customer records in the company’s CRM system in order to maintain up-to-date records and streamline future communications with the customer.

Scope

This Standard Operating Procedure details all of the steps that must be taken by sales staff to enter new customer accounts into the company’s CRM system.

Responsible parties

Each sales team member is responsible for entering new customers or prospective customers that they make contact with into the CRM. The Sales Manager is responsible for overseeing this process and ensuring that all customer records are complete.

Terms and definitions

CRM is used as an abbreviation for customer relationship management throughout this document.

Procedure

  1. Open the customer relationship management system.

  2. Select Add Customer in the upper-righthand corner.

  3. Fill in all of the required fields and any optional fields that you have data for.

  4. Double-check the spelling of the customer’s name and email address.

  5. Save the customer record and add any additional notes from your interactions with the customer into the CRM.

Related documents

  1. CRM help documents and user guide

Example 4 – Ordering office supplies

Purpose

The purpose of this Standard Operating Procedure is to set forth the proper process for ordering and restocking office supplies.

Scope

This Standard Operating Procedure details the steps necessary for inventorying office needs, ordering supplies, and documenting spending.

Responsible parties

The Office Manager is responsible for inventorying and ordering supplies for the office and for the maintenance of this SOP document. The finance department is responsible for approving high-value office supply purchases and reconciling expense purchases.

Terms and definitions

N/A

Procedure

  1. Take Inventory of current supply levels and document which supplies need to be reordered.

  2. Review special supply requests from department leads and team members.

  3. Obtain approval from finance for any special requests or office needs with a value over $100.

  4. Order the necessary supplies from approved vendor websites.

  5. Follow the expense policy to document any charges put on a company card.

Related documents

  1. Expense policy

Example 5 – Payroll processing

Purpose

The purpose of this Standard Operating Procedure is to detail the step-by-step procedures that must be taken to properly run payroll each pay period to ensure accurate and compliant payments are disbursed on the set pay dates for the year.

Scope

This Standard Operating Procedure details all of the steps that must be taken by the payroll department to process payroll each pay period.

Responsible parties

The payroll department is responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of all pay disbursements and for the upkeep of this SOP.

Terms and definitions

Payroll refers to the payment process for all W2 employees. A separate SOP is in place for contract staff.

Procedure

  1. Review submitted timesheets and follow up with any missing timesheets.

  2. Review overtime, bonuses, reimbursements, or other special payments.

  3. Verify any new hire information or employee changes have been updated in the system.

  4. Run payroll in the payroll system.

  5. Review payroll reports and data.

  6. Send checks to be printed and distributed or submitted for direct deposit.

Related documents

  1. Annual pay schedule

  2. Annual company holiday calendar

Create your own SOPs

Now that you’ve seen five SOP examples, start building your own library of standard operating procedure documents. It can help to list out your top business processes as a starting point and then gradually build up your collection of SOPs. By the end of this process, you will have a great procedure manual in place that employees can reference when completing all of their major tasks. It can help to store these in a wiki or a cloud storage app so that they are easy to find and refer back to.

If you need more help in writing SOPs, take a look at our SOP checklist to look at all of the different fields or pieces of information that you can include in your own standard operating procedure templates. We also have a guide on SOP development to help you navigate the process of creating high-quality SOP docs.

 

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