What is an SOP?

Mar 28, 2023

What does SOP stand for?

An SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure also commonly referred to as System Operating Procedure.

SOP Meaning

SOPs are documented processes, usually in the form of a set of instructions, to ensure that a service or product is delivered or produced consistently every time the process takes place. Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures.

SOPs are often used to demonstrate compliance and can be an effective way to communicate changes in the way your business operates to your employees.

The main objective of a standard operating procedure is to develop an effective quality system and comply with industry-specific regulations and standards.

The format of an SOP will vary depending on the industry, but in the world of machine safety, they are typically dependent on safety regulations and the overarching health and safety functions within the organisation. It is s useful business tool to communicate the correct way of carrying out a particular task.

Who Should Contribute to the SOP?

SOPs should be documented by an individual who has sufficient experience of the procedure or task e.g.; an employee working on a food production machine. The author should receive support from managers and colleagues in creating them and be clear about the benefits the SOP delivers and why it is necessary. This approach ensures commitment and ‘buy-in’ from the workforce to ensure that the SOPs are being created in a structured and motivated way.

Creating SOP’s can be a lengthy and timely process and depending on the detail and technicalities of the procedure, external support may be required. This may involve sourcing Health and Safety consultants or representatives either internally or externally in the organisation.

If you choose to write your own SOP’s, there should be clear and consistent input from all members who are involved in the procedure. Keep the group small, focussed and competent to avoid ‘too many cooks’. Focus on involving those who have experience, and who understand the process enough to help create simple, step-by-step instructions. Keep it simple but be sure to include the critical controls points.

SOPs Importance

Standard operating procedures are important because it allows organisations to systematise their processes giving workers confidence in the task as they have a step-by-step guide on how to carry it out. This will help to encourage motivation, accuracy, and safety compliance.

The importance of developing standard operating procedures can be illustrated by considering the negative impact of not using them. Loss of control and standardisation, a lack of accountability and an increased business continuity risk as well as risk to workers health and well-being. There is no guarantee that SOPs for best practices will be followed at all times, that all team members will remain in alignment, or that the organization will continue to operate in a positive and effective manner. However, when the proverbial poop hits the fan you will be pleased to have them as a reference point for what should have been.

read related article: What are the benefits of creating SOPs

Please Read our SOP Guide to learn more = The Complete SOP Guide

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