An SOP can be defined as a document in a standardized template which contains a set of instructions on how to perform a task, the details of a process, or the details of a company policy. An SOP could involve a process or a policy.

For example:

  • Process: A software product release could involve many verticals, such as technology, product, sales, customer support.
  • Policy: Employee reimbursements, new joinee laptop assigning, leave and holidays.

An SOP can help to:
Provide standardization in instructions for routine jobs and get them performed in compliance with them

  • Ensure intravertical alignment
  • Provide direction
  • Improve communication
  • Reduce training time/ induction
  • Improvise consistently on work
  • Facilitate easy access to all processes across the company

The benefits of an SOP to a start-up:

  • A start-up has to build almost everything from scratch or to incorporate things by learning from elsewhere. Documenting the way the company should run will help to have a better management.
  • An entrepreneur always wants everything done in a certain way which, after the company attains a certain size, is no longer possible or practical. In such a case, either the quality of work suffers or the entrepreneur starts micromanaging. Neither is good for the company. An SOP is the easiest and surest way for an entrepreneur to check that even the smallest task in the company is being done according to what he wants.
  • Employees don’t have to rely on their memory, since everything is documented: what they had been told in meetings, calls, emails or inductions.
  • A start-up is always pushed for time and is short of all kinds of resources. Time should not be wasted on work getting affected by complicated processes, on employee confusion, on having to instruct employees continuously about how something needs to be done.
  • Because an SOP is a documented method of doing a process or following a policy, whoever draws it up ensures that it is given a lot of thought and made with precision. It helps build a culture of perfection and in-depth thinking.

In very simple words, an SOP means documenting every activity in the company that needs to be done in a particular way. It can build a fundamental structure for the company.

Many of you might wonder why, as a start-up, you would need to make SOPs, especially since you are only a few people and since all your time should go into making the product or selling it. You might not need SOPs from day one and yes, most of your time should go into your product. However, you will never realize when the right time came for you to start making SOPs and went by without your doing them, after which, possibly, it was too late to set them up in your company.

Also, because an SOP entails a lot of documentation and it is not the most exciting thing one would like to do in his job, the sooner you start implementing it as a policy, the sooner it will get inculcated as a culture in the company and people will get habituated to working with it. It is a sure-fire way to reduce the time and energy spent by employees on internal coordination.

It is one of those things which would ensure that when your start-up becomes big, it does not fall apart or become inefficient because of just too much chaos— something almost all start-ups face in their journey. If you are afraid that SOPs would introduce a big-company culture into your start-up and make it mechanical and robotic, you are far from the truth. The nimbleness, flexibility and creativity you have as a start-up would remain intact even after a strict implementing of SOPs.

SOPs should be made on all policies which are needed to run your start-up and all processes that get executed more than once. The best way is to start with the most complex processes and then come down to the simpler ones. SOPs can also be made on smaller policies or code of conduct, such as the time taken to respond to a customer complaint; nomenclature of variables to be used in software programming; pricing explanation and justification to the customer.

To ensure that SOPs are made with precision and that they become a culture in the company, your top management team and core team should buy into this practice and should get trained to do it and be motivated to implement it. Know more about SOPs only at the University Canada West.