Originally published on July 11, 2013
First, I want to acknowledge that creating an SOP (Standard Operating & Procedures) guide is not the most exciting thing in the world, which is exactly why many businesses don’t have one (or only have part of one). It isn’t my ideal way to spend a day either, but it definitely needs to be done.
It’s like exercise – at first it’s not fun. You have to drag yourself out of bed early to make it to the gym when you really don’t want to. But you do it anyway because you know the payoff is worth it. Although you may never love working out, you get to the point at which it becomes part of your day and it’s no longer such a drag.
Documenting your processes to create your SOP guide are part of a healthy workout for your business. So here are 3 simple steps to get you on your way:
- Decide who needs to document the process. Whoever is doing the work is the best person to document the process. If you have been doing most of the work yourself to date, then it’s you. If you have a VA (or two) who has been doing the work, get them to help (and yes, you pay them for this time). This requires a measure of discipline on both sides – you need to demand that they do it as part of their role, and they need to set aside the time to actually do it.
- When should you start? Now! The best way to create your SOP guide is “as you go.” You and/or your team can start documenting things as they come up. Don’t try to do it all at once and make it a big project. That’s too stressful and it’s not necessary. Aim for each person to complete at least a few each week.
- Decide on the best format. Your SOP guide needs to live online in a place that is accessible to everyone on the team so it’s easy to update. We use the “wiki” feature in Central Desktop to manage our SOP guide. It can be written, audio, video, or a combination thereof. If you do choose audio or video, I do recommend having someone create a written checklist for easy referral (vs. always having to rewatch the video).
If you start today, in a few short weeks you will be well on your way to having an effective SOP guide in place and living happily in your virtual office for all to see.