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Implementing SOP in a Small Business Environment

by Master Fool

In a small and medium enterprise setting, usually most of the final decision making are done solely based on the business owner’s decision. So what would happen if you as the owner falls sick or were to be uncontactable and unreachable for a time period? Would all your business operations stand to halt awaiting for your decision? SOP simply means Standard Operating Procedure and its a useful process. Setting up and implementing a SOP process doesn’t cost you additional dollar but rather a detail layout thought of what should be done by when and who.

It came to me that there are some businesses that for instance do not even have a proper flow process as to who decides on the pricing and approves the pricing apart from the owner himself. The end result overwhelmed that particular staff as she was the only one that knew how to calculate the costs although the final price release approval was by the owner himself. Everyone in the sales force were faced with frustration as everyone was waiting for the price from the said staff and the owner whom himself was also busy. Are you caught in a similar situation? How can we resolve this scenario? First of all, there needs to be a SOP in the way things are implemented

So how do you start off by implementing SOP in a small business environment like yours? Here are some guide and food for your thoughts

Clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities

In a small business setting, it is understandable when the finance manager is also your office manager. However, you need to clearly define and assign the roles and responsibilities so that the SOP process is clear for everyone as well.

What are repeated issues (sometimes with mistakes) that you need to address

From miscommunication between the sales force and the marketing team to the assignment of operation’s schedule, run through different scenarios and the issues and jot down the SOP flow chart.

Who is the assigned process owner

In each process, the owner is usually the person that processes the requests coming from the initiator but

Timeline and documentation

All action taken by each team or individual needs to have a timeline so that everyone has the same expectations of when they can get an answer. If needed, create forms which could facilitate the team. It may seem like an hassle and additional job for some part of the people but clear documentation forms provide clear contents and instructions thus eliminating misunderstandings and miscommunications

Feedback and communicate

Before implementing, check with the people involved in the process if anything is left out

Review and revise

Once you have set the SOP, always remember that its not die hard cast. Review and revise along the way as business expands and changes but there needs to be a clear follow through from everyone or the SOP is just as good as some sketches on paper

Below is a simple SOP process flow to get you started and have some ideation on this

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