Today I started creating my own SOP for my previous job at the front desk of a music school. This is my first time creating an SOP so I'm learning as I go along, but there's a lot of benefits from creating an SOP (as I'm learning).
For those who don't know, an SOP is a detailed step-by-step documentation for getting specific jobs done. It's instructions on how to complete a given task, and it should be clear enough for any team member to look at and figure out.
SOP's are great for multiple reasons. One reason is that it helps you understand the "why" behind each step. Being able to see how each step leads to the next allows you to see the whole picture. If you can see the whole picture, you can get a better understanding of how to efficiently approach each step. It gives you a better understanding to the purpose behind the individual tasks and also sets a standard for the rest of the team you work with.
Part of the beauty behind creating SOP's is that it requires you to think carefully about each detail. If you make one slight mistake, it will be obvious. If there's a problem with the current system in place, writing it down will be an issue. It's a bit like problem solving so if the puzzle pieces don't fit, it will become clear to you how to fix the problem.
So far, I've written down the basic tasks I performed at the front desk. These are the ones that specifically apply to the music school in particular, other tasks (calling, emailing, etc.) I'll add later on since they're pretty general. For now I am focusing on the unique tasks I performed that need more detail in explaining. I also will be doing a separate post for learning the correct SOP format, but for now I want to explain the basics for why SOP's are useful.
Ideally, for a real business it's better to get an SOP for each department. Since I'm no longer working at the music school I can't go back and get information about other positions, I can only work with what I've done in the past. However, if I were creating this for a business that I work at currently, there's a few ways an SOP would directly help me, the team, and customers as well.
Creating an SOP automatically sets a standard for yourself just as much as it does for the procedures you instruct. Since you're the person creating it, people will go to you as a person with authority for questions. But if you do a good job of communicating what's expected of the team, they then have a clear way to convey this to customers. Most of the time (those who run a front desk know this well), an unhappy customer is only frustrated because they've been given false or miscommunicated information. SOP's will attack the root of that problem by clearing up the process to the team first, then to the customers.
As I continue making this SOP for practice (like I said, I'm learning as I go), I would like to add screenshots and some photos to further clarify the process for getting some of these tasks done. Keeping others in mind while creating these is key and since some people learn visually, I think pictures (or maybe charts etc.) will help for visual learners.