SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is a type of visual or textual document that records the clear set of instructions about the process which is duplicated over and over again. This document contains information in such a manner that a person can operate at the highest level of quality with minimal supervision. In the next section we will see an example of simple SOP.
Why SOP is important
A business involves hundreds of employees and equally large number of processes that requires monitoring for maintaining the quality of the service. Some processes are repeated over and over again in the business and can be executed by different people at any given point of time. To maintain the same standard of quality, it is necessary to know the clear steps to be performed so that if any person who is new to the process should not be spending time on thinking the best possible way of doing the same thing.
Moreover, action performed for a particular task can differ from person to person. Then the question arises, How do we maintain the highest possible standard of the process.
SOP should basically answer for who, what, when, how to perform a given task without compromising on the quality.
Example of Standard Operating Procedure or SOP
Knowingly or unknowingly we follow a sort of Standard operating procedure by ourselves in our day-to-day life. Take for example paying bills online, for the first time probably you will take more time for gathering the log in credentials or opening the payment URL. But if you repeat this process second, third or say 40th time, you probably have bookmarked the URL of the payment option as well as you probably have stored you log in credentials at some place where you can easily refer them.
The point to take here is anything which is clearly defined to perform a duplicate task without any issues can be considered a Standard Operating Procedure.
In commercial businesses, things are not as simple as paying bills online. They can involve handling critical client information or money or assets which is highly confidential and dealing with such information involves highest level of operating knowledge. Each step documented in SOP ensures that those high level of operating standards are maintained all the time and they should not pose any risk to critical client information.
Let us take a look at a simple SOP for checking in to the airport and boarding the aircraft
1. Proceed towards departure gate
2. Present your personal identification information to the security personal
3. Once entered inside the terminal, proceed towards luggage scanning
4. Stand in queue for the issue of boarding pass
5. Put identification tags on all your luggage including hand bags
6. On issuing boarding pass, proceed towards the security check
7. Place all your electronic equipment on a scanning tray and wait for your turn
8. Proceed towards the security personal for security verification
9. Collect you boarding pass and your belongings and process towards the waiting lounge
10. Show your boarding pass at allocated gate number and board the aircraft
Deviating from any of the mentioned step will cause a possible risk in the whole boarding process. In this case, SOP comes handy where everybody is following the same steps and can also be held accountable if a particular step is not followed properly.