A Standard Operating Procedure, or an "SOP," is a document containing instructions on how to perform a task. It ensures that routine jobs get performed safely and in compliance with applicable regulations. You can write an authoritative Standard Operating Procedure by following these steps.
- Skill level:
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Ask employees using the SOP for their input on how the job should be performed. Expect the document to undergo several drafts before a final can be generated. Have the employees themselves review the drafts for additional suggestions.
Prepare a first draft. This draft should map out all necessary steps in the procedure. Determine if any large steps can be broken down into smaller steps. Create a simple flow chart to serve as a valuable first draft.
Write the first page including a short introduction giving an overview of the entire job. This way, employees who normally read and perform one step at a time must preview the job from start to finish before beginning.
Prepare a header on the first page. It must include the company name and business unit logo, document title, date of creation and specific document number as assigned by document control personnel. Also include an issue number generated by change control.
Create a table directly under the header entitled, "Amendment History and Approvals." Include columns for the issue date of the SOP, description of changes and signatures for the SOP originator, department manager and the Quality Control manager. The description of changes briefly should summarize any revisions made to the SOP since its creation. Each revision must be signed by its initiator.
Begin the second page with the purpose of the SOP. Include its scope, the contents of the document, definitions of terms or abbreviations used in the SOP, responsibilities of personnel involved in the procedure and references to documents the SOP relied upon, such as trade standards.
Finish the SOP by describing the procedure in short steps. Use simple language and avoid describing multiple steps in the same sentence. Once the task has been detailed, date the document and have it signed by the appropriate regulatory personnel. Email the SOP to the document control department and the manager responsible for implementing the procedure.