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The advantages and disadvantages of Standard Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures, abbreviated as SOPs, are the key to efficient business operations and success. Thanks to their implementation, businesses can streamline their processes by offering clear, consistent guidelines for teams to follow, allowing for organisational tasks to be executed efficiently and goals to be reached swiftly.

You’ll find that businesses of all sizes are writing SOPs and have implemented them for a variety of processes and procedures within their organisations. Given the ever-evolving and dynamic nature of professional industries, putting in place frameworks like SOPs is of paramount importance to ensure that you and your team can adequately adapt even in spite of advancements and changes.

It goes without saying that SOPs have a range of benefits at both an individual and organisational level. But there can be disadvantages to applying an SOP in business, which you need to be conscious of before producing and implementing these procedures in your workplace. 

In this article, we delve deeper into understanding both the advantages and disadvantages of standard operating procedures so you can best understand their impacts on your business operations. We also explain what an SOP is, as well as its purpose and importance in the workplace, in more thorough detail for those who may need to be brought up to speed on what these powerful processes are! 

What is an SOP? 

A Standard Operating Procedure is a document used to outline the guidelines and procedures required to complete a process in the workplace. They are carefully written and constructed to be detailed yet concise and an SOP’s purpose, in short, is to ensure that all members of a team execute these processes consistently and accurately. 

Writing SOPs and implementing them within your organisation for a number of processes will help you to build an efficient framework for your existing team, and future members, to streamline your operations and eliminate errors. 

SOPs come in various forms. Depending on your business processes, you may benefit from one SOP format more than the next, which you can learn more about in our dedicated article. Regardless of which format you choose for your SOPs, standard operating procedures are effective tools to utilise for the benefit of your internal business processes.

Why you should be implementing SOPs in your workplace 

Workplaces require order and efficient operations to reach goals quickly and to take strides towards achieving organisational success. To help do this, SOPs outline the steps that need to be followed to complete a task to the highest of standards so that companies can consistently achieve these desired results.

By having an SOP framework in your business you can keep your workforce on task, leading to streamlined operations and well-executed tasks that in turn contribute to better performance and efficiency in your company.

Advantages of Standard Operating Procedures

Whilst we may have already painted a picture of how useful SOPs in business are, we’ve outlined what we believe to be the core advantages of using standard operating procedures in your organisation. 

Ensures consistency

Every person in a business will naturally complete tasks differently, potentially leading to different outcomes and inconsistencies. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this in some scenarios, in a business setting this can appear unorganised and may cause your company to be perceived in a negative light due to differences in the quality of your output. 

Thanks to standard operating procedures, the exact steps that should be taken to complete a task or achieve a desired outcome are outlined for all of your employees to refer to. This is critical, as having this framework in place means your team can complete tasks consistently with minimal deviation or error, to preserve the quality of your output and maintain your business’s reputation and standards. 

Controls for quality

Consistency is one of the biggest benefits of SOPs. But businesses equally need standard operating procedures to maintain and control the quality of their products or services, which is an additional advantage of these procedures. 

Both of these benefits are heavily intertwined, as by not having consistency in a business, your tasks may be completed in the wrong way or may be executed whilst omitting key steps. By implementing SOPs in your workplace, these guidelines outline the standards that need to be met for all tasks, which ensures that the quality of your business output is always high. 

Support the simplification of audits

An additional benefit of SOPs is that they help you to simplify internal audits in your business. Internal audits are used to evaluate a business’s internal controls and processes and are particularly important to ensure the accuracy of more intricate internal processes, as well as to keep businesses compliant with formal regulations and legislation.

Thanks to an SOP in business, you can easily assess how efficient and productive a particular process or task is, helping to analyse its overall performance and identify whether any improvements need to be made. These are more often referred to as management SOPs, and they are used often to help review and update current standard operating procedures. 

With SOPs embedded in your business, you can ensure that you’re always striving for your processes to be as streamlined and efficient as possible.

Simplifying employee onboarding, training, and management 

The benefits and importance of standard operating procedures not only extend to your internal processes but to your team directly.  

One of the main benefits of SOPs is that they can support employee onboarding, training, and management. Standard operating procedures are essential during the onboarding process, particularly outlining how processes should be executed so that new hires can easily complete their assigned tasks properly.

This also eliminates excess pressure on managers and other team members in the onboarding process and reduces the time they need to spend offering this. The same applies to employee training, as SOPs can outline exactly how new processes should be executed so that all employees have guidelines to refer to when learning new tasks and skills. 

When it comes to employee management, SOPs offer a framework to help monitor employee performance by outlining exactly what employees are expected to do and how they are expected to do this. This offers a baseline that all employees should be meeting, which helps businesses to better identify when processes are not being executed correctly so that changes or improvements can be made.

Improves efficiency 

One of the core benefits of SOPs is that they make a business more efficient in its operations. As standard operating procedures offer structured guidelines on how to complete a process, this leaves minimal room for error and works to minimise any time spent on a task,  leading to increased efficiency. 

Without a detailed outline of exactly how a process should be executed, team members might end up asking questions, making mistakes, or spending an extended amount of time on a task because it is not clear how to complete it. Thus, SOPs eliminate the chances of all of this from occurring, keeping all cogs in your business running smoothly.

Reduces risk 

When completing any task, there is always an element of safety that needs to be taken into consideration. Whether it’s relevant to data protection when handling sensitive information in an office, or relating to manual handling in a construction environment, SOPs can significantly reduce any risks to your employees’ or clients’ safety.

The detailed and thorough structure and steps of an SOP means that information relevant to personal safety should be included in its framework. Anyone executing a task will be aware of the risks they may be exposed to - or that others could be exposed to - and how to best eliminate them. 

Disadvantages of Standard Operating Procedures 

Whilst there are several benefits of SOPs, there are some disadvantages of standard operating procedures which mean they may not work well for a particular process or procedure in your business. We’ve outlined some of the main disadvantages of SOPs which you should consider if you’re building them in your business.

They may reduce creativity

The main purpose of SOPs is to offer a framework that all members of a team can follow, leaving little room for deviation. Therefore, there is an argument that this can reduce the chances for innovation and creativity for a business, which are important to propel organisations forward.

However, given the purpose of standard operating procedures is to create a more efficient operating work environment with streamlined procedures, this doesn’t mean that employee creativity has to be impacted. There are ample opportunities for businesses to be creative and innovative when ideating new processes, or even finding ways to improve existing SOPs. 

As long as you’re using standard operating procedures for their intended purposes - which include increasing the efficiency of processes and enhancing company productivity - the creativity of your workforce should not be hindered. 

They leave little room for flexibility

Similar to limiting creativity, one potential disadvantage of SOPs is that they create a rigid framework for businesses that leaves little room for flexibility or problem-solving. This can make it particularly difficult to adapt if an unforeseen change of circumstance were to arise that an SOP does not accommodate, which could lead to mistakes being made and inefficient operations.

But, this isn’t always necessarily the case. Whilst SOPs are there to provide structure for your business operations, they are meant to be built with some leeway, and therefore flexibility, should change need to be accommodated in a business. This is something that all businesses should bear in mind when creating standard operating procedures in their organisation. 

Reduced workplace individuality 

An additional disadvantage of SOPs is that they can reduce workplace individuality and autonomy. Because of the structured nature of standard operating procedures, the need for employees to apply more critical thinking and problem-solving skills is eliminated. As a result, they may not consider alternative or better ways of doing things within a business if this is not outlined in the developed SOPs. 

However, this shouldn’t be an issue in a workplace if your work environment is promoting your employees to think outside of the box and challenge existing practices and processes. Constantly encouraging your employees to find alternative ways of approaching tasks is important in any workplace, and SOPs are simply there to ensure that whatever approach is being implemented is done in the most efficient way possible. 

Using Touch Stay to create SOPs

If you want to develop detailed SOPs for a variety of processes in your business, our accessible and adaptable digital guidebook application here at Touch Stay is an option that you should consider. 

Usable on all devices, you can create SOPs for anything you need in your business, whilst managing and sharing these efficiently within your team. Have your SOPs organised in one place for their streamlined application and even use our platform when you’re off-grid so that you’re always able to access your standard operating procedures. 

You may benefit from our range of existing templates, which cover several industries, or will want to create your very own unique and personalised SOP by taking matters into your own hands! If you need help in doing so, don’t worry, as you can contact a member of our team to share your vision for your SOPs, and we’ll personally help you to bring this to life. 


Standard operating procedures are the key to the successful operation of a business in so many ways, and we’ve only just revealed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the advantages that you can reap from applying SOPs in your business. 

Whilst there may be several disadvantages to SOPs in business, these can be easily overcome should you know how to best create a successful standard operating procedure, and are promoting practices and mindsets amongst your team members to propel your organisation towards success. 

We hope that this article has served its purpose in outlining the advantages and disadvantages of standard operating procedures so that you can better understand the pros and cons of applying these frameworks in your organisation. 

If you’re keen to see what our digital guidebooks here at Touch Stay are all about, and how they can best help you to create and organise SOPs to streamline your business operations, you can start your free 14-day trial now.