Tips for Creating Standard Operating Procedures

What are SOPs?

In a government law office, a standard operating procedure can encompass any type of process or procedure that normally takes place, such as issuing citations or licenses, proffering requests for proposals, responding to discovery requests or starting an investigation. The SOP provides the details of the high level process including specific assignments and the workflow.

Why Important?

An SOP will help employees understand how the task is done, in compliance with any regulations or statutes, no matter who is doing the task. SOPs are especially helpful when the usual employee who performs the procedure becomes unavailable, either due to illness, death or emergency, or there is a disruption of normal business operations.

What Format?

Your SOP can be written in a simple steps format. This is a better option if the steps are simple, clear and easy for a reader to follow. If more complicated, consider the flowchart format. This is a good option if you have multiple outcomes and the results are not predictable.

Who Needs to be Involved?

Get the input from the employee or employees who actually perform the task. Ask them to delineate all the steps that are involved. The SOP needs to make sense to them and include all the necessary actions. After you have written your draft, make sure these employees review the SOP to make sure there are no grammatical or technical errors. Then make sure that the division and department heads or any other stakeholders also have a chance to review and give input and or feedback.

How to Disseminate?

Make sure that the SOP is accessible for all those who might need it. A hard copy folder or binder is always a good idea but also make sure the SOP resides on your office’s intranet. Again, a central clearinghouse is especially helpful in the case of emergencies or the disruption of normal operations.