Writing Your First Standard Operating Procedure

Creating your first SOP
In our previous articles this month, we have considered the What, When, Where and Why of S.O.P’s, why you need them in your business and systems for self-employed business owners.

So, now we turn to developing your first system.

Writing your first S.O.P might seem like a daunting task but it really isn’t. Basically, you are creating a super checklist to perform a task.

Here are steps that will help you get started.

Decide on the format you are going to use

Most S.O.P’s are in a text format, but other formats can include flowcharts, audios and/or videos. These formats can also be combined; however, the goal is to keep it simple.

A simple text format is used to create a document that is short, cognisant, and targeted for routine tasks. This is a great format for the solopreneur small business owner.

It can look somewhat like a to-do-list with bullet point sentences giving detailed instructions.

Consider Your Audience

Have a close look at who your audience is; (or potential audience if it is just you at the moment). Do they have prior knowledge of your business and how you operate? Are they up to date with the terminology used in your business and will they understand it?


This may sound like a no brainer but will the people using it have your reading level. Now is a time to consider this as you may wish to add or supplement the text with pictures, diagrams, audios or videos that will help.

Who Should Write the Procedure?

Are you the right person to be writing this? Do you know the detailed steps of this process?

Unless you truly know these steps such as the knowledge of what could go wrong, what is safe and what is not and whether you can write it accurately, you may want to hand this over to someone more qualified.

Don’t be shy in asking for assistance in creating your document. It is normal to interview others and gather information that will help in the writing process.

Choose the Long Format or the Short Format

If your audience consists of individuals who are very savvy of the process and just need a short checklist of updates, then a short list of bullet point steps may be all you need.

Keep the goal in mind. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the specific reason for this Standard Operating Procedure?
  • Is it safety?
  • Is it compliance?
  • Will it be steps for training purposes?
  • Will people refer to it every day?

Keep in mind these following points.

  • Is the reason for the S.O.P to make sure people comply with certain standards?
  • Is it to make sure that quality standards are met?
  • Is it’s purpose to ensure that environmental standards are enforced?
  • Is it to ensure that schedules are running on time?
  • Is it designed to find manufacturing problems in advance and stop failures?
  • Is it designed to assist in training?

Documenting Your Standard Operating Procedure

The document will have 4 sections to it.

  1. The title, the date, the name of the creator and the application it refers to, and the sign off (who signed off on this once it was created)
  2. You may want a table of contents depending on the length
  3. Quality assurance – have all relevant documentation available so the end user can assure the procedure works
  4. List all references used to create the S.O.P.

Now go ahead and write your first draft.
To make this task easier, download the free template we have created for you. Just follow the prompts!
Download free template


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