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How to create an SOP template

Having clear and consistent procedures is the lifeblood of any successful business. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) act as a roadmap, ensuring everyone follows the same steps and achieves predictable, high-quality results.

But let's be honest - creating SOPs from scratch can be a daunting task. Enter the mighty SOP template, your secret weapon for efficient and effective process documentation.

This blog covers all the SOP essentials:

Why SOPs are important

SOPs don’t just have to be bureaucratic burdens; they offer a treasure trove of benefits for businesses of all sizes:

  • Unwavering consistency: with everyone following the same script, you achieve predictable outcomes while minimising errors and maintaining quality standards.
  • Newbie ninja training: onboarding new employees becomes a breeze thanks to clear and concise instructions, reducing training time and costs.
  • Efficiency unleashed: streamlined processes translate to saved time and resources, boosting your overall productivity and output.
  • Quality you can trust: consistent procedures safeguard product quality and service delivery, keeping your customers happy and loyal.
  • Compliance confidence: well-designed SOPs help you demonstrate adherence to industry regulations and standards, keeping you out of legal hot water.

What is an SOP template?

Think of an SOP template as a pre-formatted document, offering a helpful structure and prompts to guide you through capturing all the vital elements of an SOP. It's like a fill-in-the-blanks game for process creation, saving you precious time and ensuring you don't miss any crucial details.


Why use an SOP template?

Using an SOP template is like having a culinary expert by your side when crafting recipes. Here's why it elevates your SOP game:

  • Time-saving hero: skip reinventing the wheel and focus on customising the template to your specific needs.
  • Consistency champion: the structured approach ensures your SOPs follow a uniform style and format, fostering clarity and understanding.
  • Clarity conductor: prompts guide you to include all the essential information, preventing important details from slipping through the cracks.
  • Flexibility friend: adapt the template to fit your unique business context and processes, ensuring a perfect fit.

Who uses SOP templates?

The beauty of SOP templates lies in their universal appeal. Whether you're a solopreneur or a multinational corporation, having the right procedures in place can significantly boost efficiency and consistency across your business:

Tech-savvy IT SOPs

IT infrastructure requires standardised protocols to manage daily operations, system changes, and security. An SOP framework aims to streamline processes from troubleshooting to maintenance, so IT teams can optimise stability and efficiency. As technology progresses, updating the procedures regularly is key.

  • Manage routine tasks like troubleshooting, bug reporting, and security events seamlessly.
  • Schedule maintenance and track asset management effectively.
  • Update procedures readily after tech upgrades to stay ahead of the curve.

HR SOPs for streamlined processes

HR teams need structured documentation to guide critical workflows like onboarding, annual reviews, personal development plans, and benefits administration. An HR SOP blueprint outlines clear responsibilities and timelines for core processes to build positive workplace culture and employee experiences.

  • Onboard new hires effortlessly with clear instructions and defined responsibilities.
  • Conduct performance reviews and manage employee benefits efficiently.
  • Foster positive workplace relationships and enhance employee experience.

Marketing SOPs for campaign confidence

Executing a new campaign or client gifting program doesn't have to be chaotic. Streamline the process and ensure everyone's on the same page with a dedicated marketing SOP.

  • Outline every task involved, from initial planning to launch and follow-up. Specify responsible parties, creative briefs, deadlines, and any necessary tools or resources.
  • Maintain consistency across all touchpoints by including specific messaging guidelines, brand assets, and visual identity directives.
  • Eliminate confusion by designating clear communication channels for team collaboration and stakeholder updates.

Precision in manufacturing SOPs

Precise protocols in manufacturing facilities safeguard production standards, equipment handling, and employee wellbeing. A manufacturing SOP upholds quality control and safety principles vital for product consistency and operational excellence. 

  • Ensure adherence to safety regulations and quality assurance standards.
  • Produce high-quality products consistently while meeting deadlines.
  • Empower your team with clear task instructions for swift and accurate execution.

Hospitality SOPs: a formula for restaurant success

Dining establishments rely on strict kitchen, hygiene, and sanitation protocols as well as service standards to delight guests. A restaurant SOP focuses on core procedures from food prep to customer interactions to fire safety procedures, targeting consistent hospitality and quality.

  • Maintain food safety and quality control through defined procedures.
  • Streamline supply chain management, cleaning routines, and customer service standards.
  • Train staff consistently and ensure your kitchen is always well-equipped.

Retail SOPs for operations made easy

Retailers require a framework to handle product issues and customer complaints. Using a retail SOP template aims to equip QA/QC teams to address such scenarios smoothly and effectively.

  • Provide exceptional customer service with documented procedures for refunds, gift vouchers, sales, and complaints.
  • Ensure consistency across stores and staff, regardless of who's on duty.
  • Manage inventory and merchandising effectively to optimise store operations and revenue.

Boost sales with a sales team SOP

An SOP can align sales teams for peak efficiency through standardised lead management, client interactions, and post-sale follow-ups. A sales SOP guide targets consistency in critical functions to boost team performance and customer lifecycle.

  • Track leads effectively and convert them into loyal customers.
  • Follow clear guidelines for progressing leads through the sales funnel.
  • Deliver a seamless customer experience with defined responsibility throughout the sales process.

SOPs equal exceptional customer service

Guiding customer service teams through common scenarios promotes professional, consistent support for the buyer of your product or service. Using a CS SOP focuses on interaction best practices around enquiries, complaints, returns, and ongoing needs.

  • Set response time expectations and establish efficient enquiry resolution protocols.
  • Gather valuable feedback to continuously improve customer service experiences.
  • Adapt your SOP to match your specific industry and customer needs.

When to write an SOP template

Think your team operates like a well-oiled machine? Great! But even the smoothest workflows can benefit from clear documentation. Here's the key question: when do you need an SOP? 

When repetition reigns

Does your team tackle the same tasks repeatedly? From onboarding new hires to troubleshooting tech issues, SOPs shine for recurring processes. They ensure consistency, reduce errors, and free up time spent explaining the same things over and over.

When newbies need a nudge

Training new team members? SOPs offer a lifeline for learning. They provide clear instructions, eliminating the ‘ask-around’ culture and accelerating onboarding. No more reinventing the wheel – every new team member benefits from established company best practices.

When complexity creeps in

Do some tasks involve intricate steps or require specific tools? Don't leave things to chance! SOPs provide a detailed roadmap for navigating complex processes, ensuring everyone follows the same steps and achieves the desired outcome.

When consistency counts

Does maintaining brand consistency or adhering to legal regulations matter? SOPs are your guardian angels. They enforce specific standards and procedures, reducing the risk of deviation and ensuring everyone remains on the same page.

When scalability beckons

Planning to grow your team? SOPs for scaling businesses are your golden ticket. They're easily accessible for new hires, ensuring smooth onboarding and preserving valuable knowledge even as your team expands.

Remember, not every process needs an SOP! Simple tasks or those requiring real-time adaptation might be better suited to hands-on training. But remember, any recurring, complex, or crucial process can benefit from the clarity and consistency an SOP provides. So, identify your repetitive tasks, consider your training needs, and get ready to unlock the power of documented procedures!

How to use an SOP template

Imagine your team operating like a dream, tackling tasks with confidence and consistency. That's the magic of a well-crafted Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) template. But don't let a blank page intimidate you! Here's a breakdown of how to transform your SOP template into a powerful workflow guide:

1. Paint a clear picture

Start by defining the specific task or process your SOP covers. Think of it as a catchy headline: concise, descriptive, and instantly recognisable. Then, under the "Purpose" section, articulate why this procedure matters. What problem does it solve? How does it benefit your team or organisation?

2. Break it down step-by-step

Now for the heart of your SOP: the instructions. Use numbered lists to outline each step in a logical sequence. Be clear, concise, and detailed, leaving no room for ambiguity. Think of it as guiding someone who's completely new to the task.
Touch Stay tip: avoid jargon and spell out any acronyms to ensure everyone's on the same page.

3. Consistency is key

Maintain a consistent tone and style throughout the document. This makes it easier to read and understand, especially for complex procedures. Remember, clarity is your best friend!

4. Double-check and refine

Once you've documented all the steps, take a step back and review your masterpiece. Is it accurate? Complete? Consider having someone who regularly performs the task review it for clarity and practicality.

5. Embrace change

Remember, your SOP is a living document, not a museum exhibit. As processes evolve and improve, so should your SOP. Be prepared to update it regularly to reflect the latest practices and keep your team operating at peak efficiency.

By following these five simple steps, you'll transform your SOP template from a blank page into a powerful tool that streamlines workflows, empowers your team, and propels your organisation forward. So, grab your template, unleash your creativity, and watch your SOP work its magic!

How to create an SOP template

SOPs serve as the backbone of smooth workflows, but a one-size-fits-all approach rarely cuts it. The ideal SOP adapts to the specific task at hand, ensuring clarity and efficiency from team members at all levels. So, where do you begin? Let's delve into the world of SOP templates and help you choose the right fit for your needs.

Template types

  • Checklist: ideal for straightforward tasks with defined steps. Think daily equipment checks or data entry procedures.
  • Flowchart: perfect for visualising complex processes with decision points and alternative paths. Think troubleshooting guides or customer service escalation protocols.
  • Step-by-step guide: a classic choice for outlining tasks in a sequential order. Use it for onboarding new hires, handling customer complaints, or performing maintenance procedures.
  • Decision tree: perfect for tasks requiring conditional steps based on specific criteria. Imagine navigating product returns or handling different insurance claim types.
  • Table: efficiently summarise key information or compare different options. Use it for comparing competitor features or outlining product specifications.

Formatting options

  • Digital document: use digital communication tools, like Touch Stay, word processors or project management tools for easy collaboration, updates, and readily accessible instructions.
  • Printable checklist: keep it simple for tasks requiring physical sign-offs or a hard copy paper trail.
  • Interactive infographic: engage your team with visually appealing and easy-to-follow instructions.
  • Video tutorial: bring complex procedures to life with visual demonstrations and spoken instructions.

Choosing the right fit

Consider these factors when selecting your template:

  • Complexity of the task: simpler tasks might thrive with checklists or step-by-step guides, while complex procedures might benefit from flowcharts or decision trees.
  • Target audience: tailor the format to your audience's needs. Visual learners might appreciate infographics or video tutorials, while technical users might prefer comprehensive documents.
  • Accessibility: ensure your chosen format is easily accessible to all team members, considering mobile-friendliness or offline availability if needed.

Remember, your SOP template should be a living document, adaptable to your evolving needs and open to improvement. Don't be afraid to experiment with different formats and find what resonates best with your team. With the right template and a focus on clarity, your SOPs will empower your team and fuel organisational success!

Where to find the best SOP templates

Creating an SOP from scratch can be daunting, especially with limited resources. Thankfully, the internet throws open its virtual doors, offering a treasure trove of SOP templates ready to be downloaded and adapted to your operational procedures:

  • Smartsheet has a range of excellent SOP templates to use, including a standard operating procedure template just for hotel guest luggage handling.

  • Whale has hundreds of pre-built SOP templates to choose from that can be tweaked to fit your company’s way of doing things. Whale also offers a clever AI integration to save you time when creating your SOPs.

  • Helpjuice has 11 free SOP templates to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, no matter what departments you’re running.

  • Monday offers highly customisable SOP, workflow and policy templates for outlining the routine procedures you use in your organisation.

  • Touch Stay digital guidebooks provide a perfect framework for creating brandable, well-organised SOPs that are easy to share, track usage, and update at a moment’s notice. 

Create an SOP template with Touch Stay

Follow these steps to develop comprehensive SOP templates leveraging Touch Stay’s intuitive guidebook layout consisting of Categories, Subcategories and Topics. In this example, we've created an SOP template for event planning:

1. Name your Categories

Organise your Touch Stay guidebook SOP into key Categories needed to document your procedure, for example:

  • Start here - overview information 
  • Need to know - roles, glossary, related info
  • Procedure - steps and visuals
  • Event day checklist - day before/on the day
  • Essential tools - required materials, best practices
  • Monitoring - tracking progress and feedback
  • Provide feedback - help improve the process

Remember, you can click or tap any of the images below to open the Touch Stay SOP template guidebook for a closer look.SOP template guidebook

2. Add focused Subcategories

Within each Category, break SOP content down further into Subcategories to narrowly target information for quick reference.

Useful Subcategories under the 'Start here' Category could include:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose
  • Context

SOP template guidebookUnder the 'Procedure' Category, useful Subcategories could include:

  • Definition of done
  • Critical path
  • Visual timeline

Under the 'Essential tools' Category, handy Subcategories might be:

  • Need to know/have
  • Best practiceSOP template guidebook

Under the 'Event Day Checklist' Category, break this down into useful Subcategories like:

  • The day before
  • On the daySOP template guidebook

Other handy Subcategories might include:

  • Responsibilities
  • Glossary of terms
  • Related documents
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Visual instructions

3. Fill in Topic details

It's time to get granular! Under each Subcategory, provide the detailed SOP content as Topics. A useful Topic under the 'Responsibilities' Subcategory could include:

  • Who & what

List all team members involved with the event and provide details about their specific role, including ways to contact them if necessary.SOP template guidebook

Under the 'The day before' Subcategory, add detailed Topics like:

  • Venue and setup
  • Vendor coordination
  • Materials and supplies

Under 'On the day' Subcategory, include Topics like:

  • Safety and accessibility
  • Final venue preparation
  • Technical setup
  • Vendor and staff briefing
  • Registration and welcome areas
  • Catering and refreshments
  • Safety checks
    SOP template guidebook

Ensure clarity and consistency

Think hard about every step and piece of information required to complete the procedure, be as clear about each one as possible. Other key SOP Categories, Subcategories and Topics might include:

  • When to use or start this process
  • Begin this task or process when…
  • Who to contact about this SOP, depending on your query
  • Definitions
  • Important terminology to be aware of
  • Related documents (policies, regulations, service level agreements, other SOPs, etc.)
  • What 'done' looks like
  • You’ll know you’ve completed the procedure when…
  • List all the tools, software, or materials needed to complete the procedure, including where to find them, access, or source them
  • If in doubt about any of the steps in this process, refer to these best practice guidelines
  • How to measure success
  • Help us improve this process

Thorough Topics deliver the information staff need to follow the SOP.

1. Maintain consistent structure

Use Touch Stay's template format to organise content consistently across SOPs:

  • Standard fonts, colours and branding
  • Identical style for titles, headers and numbering 
  • Consistent content sequence across categories

Familiar design allows quick comprehension of all procedures.

2. Review and update

Before finalising your SOP template:

  • Test it on real people and incorporate feedback
  • Get stakeholder sign-off on content
  • Train staff on how to use the new SOP template
  • Schedule a regular review and refresh

Use SOP templates to cement your operational procedures 

Creating comprehensive yet user-friendly standard operating procedures is crucial for business success, but it can be a daunting task. Thankfully, SOP templates serve as ready-made springboards, providing helpful structure while allowing customisation to your specific needs. Whether you need a simple checklist or an intricate decision tree, there is a template out there to simplify your process documentation. 

Tools like Touch Stay enable you to organise procedures clearly into Categories, Subcategories and Topics, ensuring consistency across the board. Remember to actively maintain your template over time through testing, user feedback, training, and regular updates. Well-designed templates pave the way for engaged employees, smooth operations, and delighted customers. 

So, dive into the world of SOP templates and unlock the potential for a smoother, more efficient, and successful business! Create your SOP today with Touch Stay