Writing Stanard Operating Procedures

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a written document / instruction detailing all steps and activities of a process or procedure. They contain step by step instructions for carrying out a certain action. SOPs can be effective catalysts to drive performance improvement and improving organizational results.

Here are some of the things one should keep in mind while writing a Standard Operating Procedure:

  • Use numbers when steps must be taken in order; otherwise, use bullets.
  • Use imperative sentences for action steps.
  • Write one action per step.
  • Identify main steps and provide detail in sub-steps.
  • Identify the person who will perform the step if other than the reader.
  • Start conditional steps with “If” or “When.”
  • Use bold and/or all caps for conditional steps that are critical or safety issues.
  • Limit branching, cross-references, or hyperlinks to action steps.
  • If possible, supplement the steps with a graphical representation / flowchart
  • Test the steps with end users.