How to Write Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Document your internal processes and workflows, ensuring that your organization always runs smoothly.

Any business or organization is made up of numerous moving parts. For all of them to work together like a fine-tuned machine, the team members need to be on the same page at all times.

An employee goes on vacation – who will fill in for them? Do they know what to do? A new worker joins the company – how will they learn how to perform their duties?

Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, make it possible for work to continue smoothly in these scenarios. Let's dive deeper into what an SOP actually is and how to write it.

What is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a step-by-step set of instructions that help employees perform their tasks in a consistent manner. To put it simply, an SOP documents how a given process works and is a common example of process documentation. It's particularly important to have a written SOP for a complex task that must conform to regulatory standards.

SOP template

Companies develop SOPs for a variety of reasons:

In short, writing standard operating procedures helps a business run smoothly as employees come and go. They work best as a step-by-step list of procedures that anyone can follow with a bit of training.

Here's an SOP example created in Nuclino, a unified workspace for all your team's knowledge, docs, and projects. You can use it to collaborate on internal documentation, manage projects, onboard new employees, take meeting minutes, and bring all your team's work together in one place.

SOP sample in Nuclino

An SOP example (created in Nuclino)

Nuclino, you can add an infinite collaborative canvas to any process document and create flowcharts without needing a separate diagramming tool.
Visual process documentation

Some other business processes that are typically documented as SOPs include:

Tips for writing SOPs

The requirements for standard operating procedures and their format will range from industry to industry but some steps and best practices apply in most cases.

Most well-written SOPs are:

A great place to store your SOPs is your internal wiki or company intranet portal. It should be accessible to the entire team, easily searchable, and collaborative so stakeholders can leave feedback when something needs to be updated or improved. After all, no matter how clear and detailed your SOPs are, it won't matter if they aren't kept up-to-date or if your team can't find them.

If your company doesn't have a wiki, you can easily create one in Nuclino.

standard operating procedure example with comment

SOP template

Standard operating procedures are created to make sure all processes can be replicated consistently across your organization. But what about the process of creating the SOPs themselves?

Keeping the SOP documents consistent in style, format, and level of detail is just as important – which is why many companies have an SOP for writing SOPs. Most commonly, it includes an SOP template to be used for every operating procedure that needs to be documented.

While every organization has its own unique SOP format and there is no one-size-fits-all, here is an example of what an SOP template could look like – customize it to create your own template.

SOP template

SOP template (created in Nuclino)

Documenting and mapping processes may sound like a chore, but it's a fundamental part of business process management that shouldn't be neglected. When your team has clear-cut, comprehensive standard operating procedures on-hand at all times, they will always know exactly what to do in any situation they face. Employees come and go, and they take their experience and know-how with them – SOPs are what helps you grow and scale your business without being slowed down by it.

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