How Do I Write a Standard Operations Procedures Manual?

How Do I Write a Standard Operations Procedures Manual

by Kristie Lorette

A standard operations procedures manual is more commonly called standard operating procedures manual. A standard operating procedures manual is a written document that lists the instructions, step-by-step, on how to complete a job task or how to handle a specific situation when it arises in the workplace.

The thought process behind a standard operating procedures manual is that consistent results will occur as long as everyone follows the steps. A standard operating procedures manual may include tasks for the entire company, or separate manuals may exist for each department.

1. Create an outline of all of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) you want to include. Since a manual is a group of specific SOPs, make a list of each task you need to cover in the manual. The outline will act as your guide to ensure you do not leave any of the tasks out as you start to write the manual.


2. Write an introduction that speaks directly to the people who will use the manual. Include a brief description of what the manual includes, what readers can expect to gain by using the manual and the best way to use the manual (i.e., read it from beginning to end or use it as a reference to look up procedures as the need arises).


3. List the first task. To complete an entire manual, you need to start with one task at a time: begin with the first SOP on your outline. Outline the steps involved in completing the task, then go back and write out the details for each step. Make sure each step is clear and concise, but provide enough detail that anyone can follow the instructions.


4. Give the SOP to someone else to read. Have an employee or someone you know read through and follow the instructions. They can provide valuable feedback if there are steps they could not complete or do not understand.


5. Refine the SOP based on the feedback. You may need to rewrite, edit or add to the instructions, usually a combination of all three.


6. Write the next SOP, repeating Steps 3 to 5 for each.


7. Compile all of the SOPs into a binder or bound manual. Include a cover sheet with the name of the manual, a table of contents, the introduction and the SOPs in the order of the table of contents.


8. Make copies and distribute to employees. Encourage regular feedback, and update when necessary.


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