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How to Create SOP Writing Guidelines

The third stage of the procedure writing process involves setting up a framework whereby all the different writing activities are formalized.

This means that before the team starts writing the procedures, you can explain to them how the writing process to works and what is expected of each person.

SOP Writing Guidelines

To ensure that the procedures are written to the company standard, reviewed correctly, and reports are generated on time, establish a set of guidelines that shows each writer how the process works.

For example:

What is expected of each writer?

Not everyone is expected to write all the material. Some will develop process flows, while others may specialize in editing the documents or submitting them to the Document Management System.

How should they circulate the procedures?

Most documents will be written in MS Word or another writing tool. After the first draft is completed, is must be circulated for review. Show the writers how to do this, how to number the document correctly and how to use Track Changes.

What tools to use to write, edit and create the procedures?

If you use specialist tools for documenting the procedures, for example, open source tools, give each person adequate training and some best practices on how to use the product. You can save time over the long run by sharing this information upfront rather than expecting everyone to find out by themselves.

Likewise, make sure that all team members use the same version of the product to avoid backward compatibility issues. Procedures written in MS Word 2007 may not open in MS Word 2003, for example.

How to update the documents after each review?

During the Review Phase, each of the writers examines the draft document. What the writers look for on a low level are things like typos, incorrect spellings, and formatting issues. All of these are important to ensure that the presentation is correct, but really they need to go deeper.

For example?

They need to stress test the procedure so that the steps in the correct sequence, that there are no ambiguities, and that key steps have not been omitted. None of this has to do with presentation ¨C it's to do with accuracy.

  • Is the procedure correct in ALL respects?
  • Can the user use this procedure follow these instructions and achieve their goal?
  • Has the Reviewer explained exactly what needs to be changed to correct the document?

Also, the Reviewers must update the Change Log and show that it's status is D fro Draft or R for under Review.

Other areas that we will examine in the coming weeks include:

  • How to file, store, and archive procedures?
  • How to work with the SMEs?
  • How to submit status reports?
  • How to arrange interviews?
  • Where they can find templates, style guides and other support material?

Do I have to do this? Shouldn't they know how to do this already?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Not everyone on the team has the same level of experience that you do. Try to gauge their level of expertise (especially if you ¡®inherit' writers from other teams) and walk through how the documentation process works.

Ensure that the team understands their roles clearly. Ask them a few questions to test their knowledge and see if they are comfortable with their duties.

Once a week take a team member to lunch offsite and try to get a feel for how the project is working for them. As a team lead, you're likely to get wrapped up with deadlines, reports and other duties. Spend time with your team and see where things are working and where they could be improved. Avoid gossiping about co-workers, that's not the point. Instead ask them how the current process could be improved.

There's always room for improvement, right?

Next up? How to gather information from Subject Matter Experts.

Table of Contents

  1. Before you Start Writing Your Standard Operating Procedures
  2. How To Find Procedure Writers
  3. How to Get a Budget
  4. How To Cost The SOP Project
  5. How to Get Management Support For Your SOP Project
  6. How to Find An Executive Champion
  7. How To Setup the Procedure Writing Team
  8. How To Define Roles in the Procedure Writing Team
  9. How to Create SOP Writing Guidelines
  10. How to Organize the Information Gathering Phase
  11. How to Test the Current As Is Business Process
  12. How to Examine Alternatives To The Current As Is Process
  13. How to Write Standard Operating Procedures
  14. How to Write Your First Procedure
  15. How to Number Each Step in the Procedure
  16. How To Capture Exceptions in Procedures
  17. How to Use If Then Tables For Complex Procedures
  18. How to Test Standard Operating Procedures
  19. How to Get SMEs to Test Procedures
  20. How & When to Sign Off the Procedure
  21. How to Publish the Standard Operating Procedures
  22. How to Control Documents
  23. How to Use Track Changes
  24. How to Use Naming Conventions
  25. How to Convert SOPs to PDF
  26. How to Upload SOPs to the Document Management System
  27. How to Create a SOP Document Archive
  28. How to Backup SOPs Archives & Store Offsite
  29. How to Implement Procedures
  30. How to Schedule Assessments
Standard Operating Procedure Template - Download Now Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Template
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Template Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Template

Document Control

  • Process Improvement - writing SOPs provides opportunities to refine current processes. Feedback received during this activity helps identify limitation of the current processes and potential problems that may arise.

Document Control

  • Regulatory requirements - SOPs help address legislative and regulatory requirements. Developing and maintaining SOPs is an effective way to address safe work practice regulations.
  • Staff Performance - SOPs clearly describe what staff are expected to perform in the workplace. SOPs remove ambiguity and provide an objective mechanism for evaluating their performance.
  • Standardization - SOPs identify roles and responsibilities. SOPs clarify decision-making requirements and chain of commands.

Clarifications Spreadsheet

  • Training material - SOPs can be used in training programs, workshops and exercises. SOPs improve the understanding of work requirements and identify potential problems.

Buy this template

Download the SOP Template Pack

The templates included in this pack are in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel format. You can download all templates online for only $9.99.

More details about the SOP template pack are here.

The template pack includes the following documents:

SOP Template (Detailed) 7 pages Download Word template
SOP Single Template 1 pages Download Word template
SOP Guidebook 11 pages Download Word template
Sample - RFP Pre-Issuance Procedure 7 pages Download Word template
SOP Log Book 7 pages Download Word template
SOP Document Control 3 pages Excel templates
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual - this is used for writing and maintaining multiple SOPs, for example, all SOPs for the HR Department.
  • Standard Operating Procedures template - this is used for writing and maintaining standalone SOPs.
  • Standard Operating Procedures Guidebook - this describes how to write SOPs. The guidebook includes the following sections:
    • Planning
    • Requirements
    • Writing Standard Operating Procedures
    • Level of Detail
    • Consistency
    • Writing Style and Language
    • Writing Conventions
    • Numerical Information
    • Component Information
    • Procedure Titles
    • Headings
    • Step Numbering
    • Procedure Organization
    • Revision Status
    • Precautions and Limitations
    • Prerequisites
    • Terms, Definitions, Acronyms, and Abbreviations
    • Writing Action Steps
    • Writing Conditional Action Steps
  • Standard Operating Procedures Log Book - this is used for controlling new SOPs, numbering SOPs, and ensuring that all SOPs are authorized before creation.
  • Excel spreadsheets - these 3 Excel files will help you manage document control, clarifications that arise during the analysis phase and monitoring roles and responsibilities.
  • Sample template - this sample template documents the pre-issuance procedure when developing Request for Proposals.

Document Control

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Supports Windows 98, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, XP, Vista & Apple Mac

* Note: All prices are in US$ and for a single user license.

FAQs

Q: What file formats are the templates?

A: Microsoft Word and Excel. The files work in Word 97-2010. They also work on Apple Macintosh. 

Q: How soon can I download them?

A: You can download the files instantly.

After you pay online, you are automatically sent to a page where you can download the templates online.

Q: What is the End User License Agreement?

A: You can read the License Agreement here

Need to know more?

Drop me a line at ivan at klariti dot com and I'll get back to you asap.



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