One of the harder lessons for owners of tech startups is to create a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for their business. While creating a standard operating procedures document may feel like an arduous activity, this isn’t the case
The benefits of creating SOPs can help you standardize the day-to-day functions which can be carried out by people you’ve hired so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Establishing standard operating procedures not only helps in the future but can have immediate effects on improving your tech business. You can even consider including SOPs as part of your business plan for better clarity and a stronger framework.
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Building your tech startup from the ground up while simultaneously fueling creativity and innovation can be a tall chaotic order. Not just that, you are at the risk of making elementary errors.
By establishing standard operating procedures, people can start doing things without having to be nudged or without the need for founders to micro-managing every task.
What Are Standard Operating Procedures?
Standard operating procedures are guidelines in the form of documented processes that a company creates to ensure consistency across its functions.
By creating standard operating procedures for specific functions within your startup you are teaching your employees how to conduct the tasks they’re expected to without leaving any room for error.
Why Does Your Tech Startup Need Standard Operating Procedures?
- Standard operating procedures help in creating a more structured organization and they help to improve overall productivity.
- SOPs also help in disseminating the values and crucial information required to perform daily tasks to all employees – existing and new.
- Quality control is another positive outcome of creating and implementing SOPs while ensuring that tasks are completed within the stipulated timelines.
- SOPs are important documents from the standpoint of audits that you would (or should) subject your business through from time to time.
- With the help of standard operating procedures, your time can be used effectively, and tasks performed more efficiently.
What Are The Essential Components Of Creating An SOP?
Standard operating procedures should clearly define the purpose for which they are created.
Along with that, the SOPs should mention the users of the said SOP, definitions of terms within the SOP and finally the procedure in the form of step-by-step instructions.
The document should be worded such that it is legible to a layman and specify the date on which it was created/ last updated to follow version control.
1. Define The Process
Recognize the functions within your tech startup that need standard operating procedures and create an in-depth list of tasks that can be standardized.
You can shortlist the ones that have a strict protocol about the steps to be followed such as Finance, HR, Legal, etc.
For example, a product manager would need to know the process of launching a new product and the steps that are taken before and after the launch.
2. Choose The Right Format
The main agenda while choosing a suitable format is to make sure that the SOPs are easy to understand. The usual formats followed for SOPs include step-by-step documents, workflow diagrams, organizational charts, instructions, checklists.
However, you can explore your options by mixing two formats or create one unique SOP design.
You need to keep in mind the job for which the standard operating procedures are being established and how best would a person in that role understand it.
For example, for creating an SOP for a new product launch, you can create a checklist of tasks that are to be performed. Test the workflow to ensure a successful launch.
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3. Speak To The Right People
Speak to people who are currently undertaking the tasks for which you are establishing the standard operating procedures. This will help to create a process document that is accurate and effective.
Doing this will help you identify the bottlenecks or existing gaps in the process that can be rectified with the help of your SOP document.
As an example, a product manager or the chief technology officer might be the right person to consult while creating an SOP on new product launches to eradicate the possibility of bugs in the system post-launch.
4. Write The SOPs
Once you’ve shortlisted the correct format and consulted with the right people, it is now time for you to put things on paper.
While writing the standard operating procedures, keep in mind the job for which you’re writing and from the perspective that even a new recruit to the job without any prior experience in the field should be able to understand the steps and execute them.
In case of doubts, detail out every step to the minutest detail where there can be no room for issues in its implementation.
5. Implement The SOPs
Your tech startup must stay committed to performing the tasks as defined in the standard operating procedures to establish the mentioned processes and to reduce the scope for error.
Standard operating procedures should not restrict creativity or the ability of your employees to think out of the box but should be looked upon as a system to ensure that everyone is updated with the latest information and understand what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis.
6. Update The SOPs
Creating an SOP is not a one-time task, and it needs to be updated to cater to the growing and expanding needs of your tech startup. It is important that you also assign a dedicated person with the responsibility of updating the SOPs as need be.
At the least, your SOPs should be updated annually such that your processes do not become dated and any iterations that make your process better should be inculcated as needed.
Establishing and creating standard operating procedure documents may seem like a time-consuming task, but the results you will see once it is implemented and the overall time you will save with the help of SOPs are far more valuable.
For startups that have begun establishing themselves, the problems and challenges that come with scaling up are only a matter of time and creating SOPs can help minimize these pain-points.
Procedures and processes might feel constrictive and seem too “corporate” but standardizing some of the jobs and daily tasks help in the long run and you will thank yourself for having established these systems in place at the very onset.