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10 Step Plan For Writing Standard Operating Procedures

This week we start a series of articles on how to write Standard Operating Procedures (also called SOPs). The aim is to introduce the key concepts involved in:

  • Designing
  • Writing
  • Formatting
  • Testing and
  • Maintaining Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

These tutorials will look at how you can put together a team of writers who can write procedures to an acceptable level so that your company is better organised, both internally and customer-facing.

Learn more about this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) template

Download this template – MS Word

Download this template – Apple iWork Pages

Is it for experts of beginners?

We’ll start with the fundamentals and then work our way up to more complicated areas. For example, we’ll look at how to get funding for your project, how to write technical writers and how to use naming conventions so that you can find document more easily once they have been archived.

10 Step Plan to Writing Standard Operating Procedures

The process of developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) involves ten steps.

The approach we will use is to assume that you are starting from scratch and want to develop your SOPs in a structured manner. This means that along with writing the SOPs, you will also have them written in a way that allows others to find them, update them and share them where necessary.

  • Organise the Procedure Writing Team
  • Get Support from Management
  • Define Team Procedures, Templates and Style Guides
  • Information Gathering Phase
  • Examine As-Is Processes
  • Explore To Be Processes
  • Write the Standard Operating Procedures
  • Test the Standard Operating Procedures
  • Sign-Off the Standard Operating Procedures
  • Release the SOPs
  • Maintain the SOPs

How about Style Guides and Templates?

We will also look at how to setup style guide, templates, and adopt naming conventions for all procedures.

What else will the course include?

Some of the other topics will include:

  • Role and Function of SOPs
  • How to conduct a Needs Assessment
  • How to implement SOPs
  • How to Evaluate SOPs
  • How to create SOP templates
  • How to format SOPs, Process, and Flowcharts
  • How to define a SOP

At the end of the course, we’ll share some free sample SOPs and other resources that will help you write your procedures.

That’s it for now.

From tomorrow, we will begin to walk you through the entire process and look at each step involved in creating your procedures.

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How to Stop SOP Templates From Crashing

sop-templates-crashing

Is there anything worse than writing Standard Operating Procedures all afternoon and then… Word crashes! If your Microsoft Word files suddenly become huge and start crashing, here’s one way to fix it. I’ve creating some very large SOPs in Microsoft Word and learnt a few ways to control these documents.

microsoft-word-style-menu-clear-all

MS Word. Click top red arrow to expand/show the Style Menu.

And it’s not just business writers, in the world of technical publishing, Microsoft Word also gets a bad rap. Many feel that it’s unstable and crashing. It can also bloat in size until your operating system grinds to a halt.

the Problem with Bullet Lists & Large MS Word files

The first offender is Bullet Lists. If there is one thing that’s guaranteed to crash Microsoft Word, it’s bullet lists.

Here’s what tends to happen.

When you click a Bullet List from the Word toolbar, Word points this Bullet List to the Normal.dot file. In other words, it uses the default settings in Normal.dot and then applies these. Fine.

No problem! That’s what it’s supposed to do.

But….

If you cut and paste a Bulleted List from one business report into your working file, then Microsoft Word has a problem.

Which Bullet List is the Master Bullet List?

It can’t tell because suddenly you have two bullet lists in your document.

And…

If you add a third bullet style, maybe with nice styling or cool fonts, it has a nervous breakdown. Microsoft Word can’t tell which is which and begins to struggle.

How to stop Word Crashing & Losing your Business Proposal

Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Word and create a separate Style for each type of bullet lists you need. For example create a Bullet Regular, Bullet List Indent, Bullet Square and so on.
  2. When you need to use a bullet list, select the appropriate style from the Styles drop-down menu.
    This is the Home tab in Microsoft Word 2007.
  3. If you want to import a bullet list from another document,
    Copy the text into a blank document.
  4. Select it, and in the Style menu, select Clear All.
    NB: This removes all formatting.
  5. Paste it into the working document.
  6. Apply the correct style.

I know this seems like more work but it’s not. Just paste into a blank document, remove the formatting and then paste it in. Your files will stop crashing and will be easier to manage.

You can get a set of User Guide templates with pre-formatted style here.

In the next article, we’ll look at other ways to reduce large Microsoft Word files.

Let me know if you’ve any problem with this. Our Smart Business Tips page on Facebook is here.

About the Author: Ivan Walsh shares Business Planning Tips at Klariti. He also runs a Video Marketing Blog for videographers and video makers.