#107: How to write an effective SOP

Feb 21, 2021 | Office Operations

In this video, I go over some guidelines for writing an effective SOP and how to write an effective SOP using my 6 P’s:

Hi this is Lisa Wells, welcome to Systems Sunday. Today we’ll do a deep dive of an SOP.

Always remember that SOPs should be written from a purely practical perspective from the point-of-view from those who will actually use them. Here are some simple yet important guidelines to keep in mind to write an end-user-focused SOP.

• Write concisely, clearly, and follow a step-by-step format

Keep sentences as brief as possible and use simple, common terms. Never obfuscate the meaning of an instruction by using overly technical or jargon-filled terminology when a simpler, clearer word or phrase communicates the same idea.

• Write in the active voice and present the main idea first

Be mindful of what you write as well as how you write it. Simple action-oriented verbs such as “identify,” “direct,” “evaluate,” and “review” get the point across without requiring interpretation. If at all possible, do not use the passive voice when structuring sentences as this has been shown to confuse and misdirect attention away from important ideas.

• Stay away from ambiguity

Always avoid using generalized terms that give no tangible meaning. Words like “periodic” “typical” “general” and “should” do not enforce any consistent direction or execution of a directive — the main goal of having an SOP in the first place.

• Be careful around important terms

The main terms here are “may,” “must,” and “should.” Remember that using the word “may” gives personnel decision-making power and/or flexibility depending on the context. “Must,” is always mandatory and “should” is by nature conditional.

• Make smart use of formatting

If your SOPs consist of long, dense paragraphs, chances are there’s a better formatting scheme to follow. Bulleted items and lists are particularly effective for certain pieces of information as they focus attention and slow the reader’s pace.


Did you enjoy this episode and want to put it into action? Grab this kit!

SOP Templates & Process Library


This standard operating procedures kit includes:

  • List of Common SOPs giving you samples of what areas can be included in your SOPs or company manual
  • Standard Operating Procedures Library including 24 examples
    • Sample Standard Operating Procedures Manual
    • How to do an affiliate payout
    • Chargeback procedure
    • Email signature
    • Resources and FAQ
    • Email Management flowchart
    • Handling declined payments
    • Help desk procedures
    • How to create a project plan flowchart
    • How to send a broadcast
    • Introductory / Discovery sessions flowchart
    • New client setup (for both products and services)
    • New team member onboarding checklist
    • Newsletter process
    • Overcoming sales objections flowchart
    • Recording InstantTeleseminar events
    • Refund procedure
    • Sample JV Partnership flowchart
    • Selecting a CRM/Database flowchart
    • Task management flowchart
    • Weekly blog posts
    • Weekly tasks

All the examples are in Word or Powerpoint format so they are fully editable. The included SOPs are meant to give you a starting point, they are SAMPLE documents to show you what an SOP (standard operations procedure) for business processes looks like. Use the sections and headings to create your OWN. Please edit this document for your business; delete what doesn’t work for your business and add whatever you need to.



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