SMART framework for writing a SOP
A standard SOP must be SMART.
S for specific
M for measurable
A for actionable
R for relevant
T for timely
Step 1: Decide the format of your SOP. It can have
a) well documented step by step guide
b) Important facts or FAQ
c) Others ( visuals or video or hyperlinks to another guide)
Step 2 : How to write step by step guide
A: Document the Attainable ( actionable) steps in chronological steps
B:For every step written, be as specific as possible.
However do take note of sentence construction .
Golden rule: every step must not consist of more than 5 sentences. If a step is more than 5 sentences , break it down into 2 steps . Or edit to summarise it into one step.
Refrain from using long sentences .
Definition of long sentence:
A long sentence consisting of 4 comma in one paragraph is considered as 4 sentences. Each sentence should only be one line.
Step 3: Important facts or FAQ
For steps which are not actionable , but important, put it in this section.
Definition of important : Ignorance of the particular piece of knowledge will inhibit the process of the documented steps in step 2. An important fact might not be an actionable step but it is Relevant and Timely for the user to take action on autopilot mode on the step by step guide.
eg of important facts,
contact details of the person in charge of the store for delivery.
Store operating hours
Step 3 : Cross Check against SMART ( the Litmus Test)
The SOP is supposed to set the reader on auto pilot mode.
Definition of autopilot mode - user should be able to embark on the set of steps with minimal intervention or supervision ( the power of 3) .For every point written, check that it is SMART.
If it is not , edit until it is.
Stick to facts and be objective.
Step 4: SOP and beyond ( what if it is not SMART)
The purpose of an SOP is to improve efficiency and to provide a consistent work experience or customer experience. It should be always be SMART.
The SOP should be measurable in efficiency, in terms of cutting short on the no. of hours spent on certain task , or accelerating the progress towards organisational goal.
If SOP leads to even more questions asked or more work or more discussions, it has violated SMART.
The power of 3 rule
definition of more questions asked - more than 3 questions which could not be answered by the SOP.
more work or more discussion - more than 3 discussion on a particular point.
Please follow the above steps to make it SMART again.