The main reason for defining a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is to get everyone on the same page. It makes sure that all concerned are following the same procedure in executing a specific job.
Providing a common template for all your SOP’s serves a number of complimentary purposes. All your company’s SOP’s will, at first glance, have a very similar look and feel to them. This will have the effect associating each individual SOP to all the others and to the issuing authority, and this consistency will lend an aura of authority to each.
Having an SOP Template to work with will make it easier for the individual tasked with creating the procedure. He or she will have, in effect, an SOP on creating the SOP itself, a baseline from which to start.
How to Use a SOP Template
All SOP Templates, and indeed many other sorts of business documents, should include what is often defined as a Document Control Section, or a Revision table. This will include such information as the SOP’s name, its document number, when it was approved, and who approved it. It will also hold the document numbers for all previous versions of this SOP.
Our SOP Template must include a style summary. This will define what type sizes and fonts are mandatory for each of the sections of the SOP. Also to defined are the paragraph style. These are important steps in enforcing the similarity that should exist between all your company’s SOP’s
An SOP Template should include a header and footer. The SOP’s name should be included on the header, and the page number and the department that the SOP is written for should be on the bottom.
The body of the SOP should begin with the purpose of the procedure itself. The template must also have a section describing for whom the SOP has been written, or who must use it. At this point, the SOP Template will call for the insertion of the actual steps to be followed by the users who will refer to the SOP for guidance and instructions in completing the given task.
When completed, you SOP template should be stored in a common area of your company’s computer system, so everyone who needs to write an SOP has access to it.
Alternatively, there are also programs available for computers based on the Windows and OS X operating systems that will automate this process. Your definitions, as specified, can be stored as “style sheets”, defining the parameters as described here, and, in effect storing one or more SOP Templates. Using this type of package will make it possible to create SOP’s much more quickly.