While working in an industry, you may come across SOP or even following one in your current task. But have you ever wondered what the full form of SOP is?
The full form of the abbreviation SOP is Standard Operating Procedure.
This tutorial will briefly cover the definition, overviews, purpose of SOP, types of SOPs, formatting of an SOP, writing SOP procedures from the end user's point of view and other detailed information related to SOP or Standard Operating Procedure.
What is meant by SOP?
“SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is a set of stepwise guidelines or written instructions collected by an organization to document a routine or repetitive activity followed by company employees and staff.”
SOP is a collection of the standard processes followed by corporations to ensure uniformity in various business roles like web traffic, marketing, e-commerce, accounting, client service, etc. Different organizations may opt for different SOPs procedures based on the nature of the company. For example, the SOPs of airports, hotels, bars, and hospitals are likely to vary from each other. Hence, SOPs play a crucial role in the successful quality system by proving detailed information and data to perform a task efficiently and consistently to achieve pre-determined specifications, employee productivity, and quality results. It reduces the possibility of confusion, miscommunication and workers act according to industry regulations.
For SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), the CEO mostly takes all the decisions related to his employees' day-to-day business activities, but there are always some deficiencies. Therefore, SOPs are required so that the business activities operate consistently, the requirements are addressed properly, and eventually, all the jobs are processed safely. SOPs are implemented seriously in various areas, unlike Power Plants, Pharmaceuticals, manufacturing units, commerce portals, etc. are some areas where there is no room for mistakes. The implementation of SOPs needs to be revised and re-enforced timely by office management else there are chances that the SOPs may fail.
Purpose of SOPs
- SOPs manage the recurring regularly because the work processes are conducted or followed seamlessly within a company.
- SOPs document the activities performed in an organization to retain consistency with technical operations and support data quality.
- SOPs describe the analytical processed, validation, and qualification processes involved in maintaining, calibrating, and using the equipment.
- SOPs maintain quality control and quality assurance methods and assure compliance with governmental administrations.
- SOPs are industry-specific and are created following the respective organization and the manufacturing unit.
Types of SOPs
One can classify various groups and forms of SOPs which are as follows:
- Fundamental SOPs: This form of SOP includes step-by-step instructions to create the different SOPs categories.
- Safety measure SOPs: It includes the detailed SOPs document briefed with company safety measures.
- Methodic SOPs: This SOP describes the examination procedure or complete testing process.
- A standard SOPs: It is a standard procedure that includes the operating instruments, machinery, and other equipment information.
- Analytical routines SOPs: It includes all analytical and reasoning processes and methods.
- Reagent preparation SOPs
- SOPs for collecting samples and documenting them.
- Quality-assurance and Archiving SOPs: It includes how to handle complaints data and quality assurance information.
Writing SOP procedures from the end user's point of view
Always make sure that the SOPs procedure should be drafted from a completely practical perspective and from the point-of-view of the readers who will learn from them. Given below are some easy yet crucial guidelines to focus while writing an end user-centric SOP procedure:
- Write concisely, precisely, and follow a step-by-step guideline: Try to keep the sentences as concise as possible. Always use simple, common terms known to everyone as simple words or phrases to communicate the same idea easily.
- Always write in the active voice and present the prime objective first: Be careful of what and how you are writing. Easy action-oriented verbs get the idea across without lacking any clarification.
- Avoid ambiguity: Always bypass using generalized terms that deliver no definite meaning.
- Make smart use of formatting: If your SOPs contain long sentences, you might need to follow better formatting with the paragraphs. Bulleted items and lists effective methods to express the information.
Formatting an SOP
All SOPs must address the following:
- References and Related Documents
- Revision History
- Approval Signatures
The header must hold the title, report number, and report version. It must classify the activity in question and should include all the related keywords.
The purpose must determine the aim of the document and is usually summarized in one or two sentences. It needs to be short and detailed adequately so as the users from another department can easily understand what process, plan and purpose the document addresses without anyone's help.
The scope explains to whom or what the SOP is implemented in our document. The scope must not neglect anything for interpretation. It should brief all the things that are included or not included in the scope. All the readers must comply with the same understanding of the starting point and the SOP coverage.
The responsibilities section determines the various roles and responsibilities required for performing activities within the procedure. If there are multiple responsibilities in your document, it is advised to list them properly in order while creating two or sub-SOPs to complete the task.
The definitions section defines all the tough and technical words used in the SOP document for the ease of the reader. It also mentions all the acronyms or abbreviations used in the SOP file. Sometimes the terms that are known to the writer may not be familiar to the reader. So it is always advised to mention all such words. Moreover, a precisely defined SOP will benefit auditors and regulatory experts in understanding the procedure without any detailed study or investigation at the time of an inspection.
The procedure must concisely include step-by-step directions. However, readers do not prefer to read long SOPs because they cannot memorize more than 8 to 13 steps procedures at a time.
References and Related Documents
This segment offers documents and references that are required to understand and efficiently execute the procedures in addition to other SOPs, private or government-issued documents.
The appendices mostly operate as a flow chart to define the procedures during an audit. It benefits those people who prefer visual learning.
This segment records all the amendments made to a procedure. It also includes all the justification or the reason for creating the SOPs procedure.
Signatures are usually located on the cover or the back page of the document. Some SOPs need multiple approval signatures. It includes key information regarding the Author, reviewer, management approver, and quality approver.