Episode 134

When is the Right Time to Document Your SOPs

September 27th, 2023


When we start our businesses, we are in the doing and don’t often take time to set our processes up. So, when is the right time to start?
We dive into:
  • The four phrases of business operations
  • Creating a consistent experience
  • Signs you’re ready to start documenting your SOPs
  • How to create effective SOPs
Connect with Nicole on Instagram and LinkedIn


Welcome to Take Control with Nicole. As business owners, we experience firsthand the fine line between our personal and business lives. During our conversations, we will look at simple hints and tips to create time, reduce overwhelm, and help you to navigate through your journey to where you want to be.

If you are looking for smarter ways to work and create space and time freedom in your day, then you’re in the right place. All right. Let’s go.

Hello. I’m Nicole Smith, COO, Operations Specialist and Systems Designer here at the Artisans Business Solutions, and welcome to Take Control with Nicole. So today we’re going to continue on that.

Fabulous conversation of SOP. So standard operating procedures, those beautiful documents that live in your central library of information that really show your team how to do things your way for your business. Those step by step guides and videos that are really there to support the success of your business and also your team.

So today we’re going to look at. What is actually the right time to start capturing your processes? Whenever you start business, so we are, we’re starting our businesses, we’re doing the things that we’re doing each and every day. We’re learning, we’re shaping, we’re getting really excited about understanding and becoming clear.

on what we’re doing. You may be an established business that has a lot going on already. You’ve been around for a while and you are quite confident that you know what is going on and where and what your team are doing. So regardless of the stage, a great place to start is when you’re actually introducing something new.

You have a fabulous opportunity to go through those four phases that we use here at the Artisans. So we’ve got our discovery, we’ve got our design, we’ve got our create and then our connect. So those four phases as part of that, one of those elements is writing SOPs, being able to really support that connection phase with your documentation.

So this is a great place to start if you are already in the midst of changing something up or introducing something new. Give that space in that process to actually capture these ways of working and you will actually see a really improved uptake from your team to be able to give them some assets and some training guides to be able to go, Hey, this is why we’ve already spoken about the why and the how and the where, and this is really going to support you to solidify this new way of working into your daily operations.

Another good opportunity of, uh, when we can start to document our SOPs is when you’re in a state of change, you’re in a growth of your business, SOPs can really ensure that quality and that consistency of the service delivery or products, whatever it might be that your business is. Uh, specializes in and ensuring that they don’t decrease in the experience as you’re going through a cheap period of change.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of a change process, uh, we can let the things slide. If we don’t have things in place, those foundations in place to really support the business to continue and to support your team to know that. Yes, we are going through this. However, delivery is first and foremost, what we pride ourselves on is at this business.

And here is our process. Here is our checklist. Here is our template, whatever it might be to be able to really support you and your team to go through this change in this period of time. And as we’ve discussed in the last episode, when you’re bringing on new people into your business, so you might be making some new employee hires, you might be engaging a contractor to support you for a period of time or for, for a period of a particular project.

But when they come in board, they are coming in blank slate. They have their knowledge and expertise, but they have need to learn and acquire the knowledge of the way that you run your business. Consistency is everything from whoever is engaging with you as your business. If they’re talking with you, if they’re talking with your assistant, if they’re talking with your team, whoever it might be, that is at that point, the face of the business, being able to create that consistent experience across.

It’s such an integral part of really maintaining your brand presence and that what your clients came to you for in the first place, they’re looking to really have that across all touch points when they’re going to engage with you. When we bring in somebody new, there is a period of learning. There is an opportunity here to not only internally understand the ways of working, but also.

Combine the people and the humans and their skills with the technologies and the systems and the processes of the business, connecting them together. Now, SOPs are one of those tools that really support the integration of this to beautifully occur. Onboarding our new humans, our new contractors, our new team members is a really important part of our process that we really, when we spend and invest some time and energy, it takes time.

I was speaking to somebody the other day and really to fully integrate into a new position, it takes a minimum of 6, 9, 12 months really to understand all the intricacies of how your business operates, the dynamics of the team, the client relationships, how you deliver the work, where you deliver the work.

If you’ve got an internal project management system, which I encourage you to do if you don’t already. To be able to understand where I’m going, why am I using this? How do I communicate with my team? Do we use emojis here or GIFs? Or are we like, nope, we don’t even do that. So we understanding all of these little movements and shakes for our new humans, be able to provide them with a learning library or a user guide, those SOPs.

This is such a different experience than arriving to an empty desk with a couple of induction sessions with someone and then trying to remember a hundred names and a hundred ways of working. So here’s some signs that you’re ready. You got tasks that you’re repeating on a daily basis and you’re ready to delegate SOP.

You are finding that you’re answering the same questions. From multiple people, multiple times a day, SOP. There we go, right there. We are in a change period where, uh, other engaging new clients. We are growing our business. We are changing a system. We are bringing on new team members, whatever else is involved in change.

SOPs. That’s just a couple to think about. Really, if we think about it, anytime there is any change or evolution in your business, it’s a beautiful time to stop and process and think about how you can do things a little bit differently, but also just capture what’s going on right now. Remember, our SOPs are not fixed in stone.

I will repeat your SOPs are not fixed in stone. They’re perfect. For the period of time, right now, until you learn something different.

They’re serving you and they’re working beautifully and they’ve got your system, your tech systems, and your people that are beautifully working. And they’re lovely. Get it documented and file it away because you never know when that task. May be delegated to somebody else and they need to come in with fresh eyes and they may spot something that’s a little bit different or something more efficient.

That was me in all my roles. We’re like, Hey, have you thought about this, that and the other? Fabulous. And then we would go and look at what’s working and what’s not and shake it up, evolve it. And it will be perfect for from that moment to the next one. Get them documented. Hmm. Businesses, how can we ensure that SOPs are actually effective in our SOPs?

We want to be able to really micro down what is it that we are wanting to capture and communicate within this document. Go into it as if this person that’s going to open up this ClickUp doc has never done the thing before. Write it for a toddler. If you’re trying to explain something and how you do it, simple is best.

Simple it down, make it simple. It should be really easy to understand. That should be really easy to follow and we should really be able to, anybody should be able to open that up. As long as they’ve got the access to the systems they need, they should be able to follow it step by step without any questions.

Obviously, if you’re a curious mind like mine, you may have questions or ways thinking of ways of doing it better, but if you’re thinking at it black and white, if you can look at that and go through step by step, and that is actually a good point. If you are the person that’s writing the SOP. You shouldn’t be the person that’s testing the SOP.

So when we’re looking at creating these ways of working in our documenting our processes, give it to someone who’s never done the task before, because guess what? We forget all the things that we’re doing each and every day, because they were like on autopilot. How many times have you jumped in the car and driven to the local shops and actually don’t remember which way you’ve gone?

That’s how we get when we’re doing our daily working every day. We are so connected with our process of doing the things. We know which button to press and we do it so quickly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast, but for someone new, they’ll go in and they’ll be like, ah, okay. Well, I can see we’ve started here and now I’m over here, but how do I get there?

So give it to somebody who’s never done the process before and you’ll be amazed at what actually is missing in the, in the translation. So let’s, uh, start by identifying the processes that really do need RSOPs. So these ones are like. Really meaty. They’re critical for the business. They’re prone to error.

I know that we’re thinking about some of those more regulated industries in the finance space or whatever it might be. There are some things that are so highly important that we cannot be missed, that you need to have things like checklists and sign offs and all those double checking measures in place.

Those processes are critical. Business operating process that you need to capture or you can capture to be able to really, again, introduce efficiencies and consistency for your experience. If you’re finding that there are mistakes after mistakes after mistakes that you’re having to correct in your role.

And we need to be focusing at where have we started? Where has this process started? I think about a business that I was working in. Uh, they had an operational team and by the time it got to admin who was doing the processing, there were so many errors that they were just having to keep on fixing. And so they would send them on back to the operations and then they’d come back with errors and they’d.

Send them on back. And all of this was to do with the fact, the operations team not yet invested the energy and time to outline their ways of working. So their team are consistent and they’ve got those checklists in place to make sure going forward that the admin team get the right information the first time, which improves efficiencies.

So you can see how when we’re actually looking at our SOPs, creating them in a way that’s accessible, it’s easy, that’s simple, that’s thought through. That’s got all the things in place that’s going to support all the avenues, all the users that are part of that process to get that end result of accuracy, reduced errors, improved efficiencies, oh, goodness, cost savings.

Think about how many people have had to touch that piece of data because the process wasn’t put in place first. Oh, makes me happy when the process is there so that you as a business leader can be confident, your team is confident, and that you know that your clients are going to get that same experience, the turnaround times are going to be quicker, that everything’s going to be really enjoyable and efficient.

It’s going to save you time and money. Oh, why wouldn’t you do it? When’s the right time? Yesterday. Yesterday is the perfect time. I know we can’t go back in time. Let’s be serial, but think about this today. Have a moment of thought. What is something that if I wasn’t there, if you weren’t there in that spot, doing that thing, could your business still operate?

If nobody else knows how to do it, that’s the one to start with. Pop in my DMs over at the Artisans Solutions and let me know which ones you started with and what format you’re going to be using. Because remember, accessibility, we want to be able to support our people to connect in with the ways of working through text, visual, audio, whatever it might be that really supports your business to communicate this really nice and clearly.

Finally, before we wrap up for today. We’ve said today that these SOPs are not set in stone, right? And so to support that, it’s really about putting in those dates for review and update. Now, we’re not talking about every month, every week. Consistent changing is not actually going to support efficiencies, unless it’s really, really needed.

Right. And if it’s if needed, there’s a whole holistic operational thing that we will want to be talking about. You come and talk to us. Right. But it’s really about once you put these things in place, once you spark them away in the library, using your beautiful naming conventions. That you’ve got that last revised date, therefore, you know, that when you’re going in to have a look at all of that information that’s been there, how old are your SOPs?

When was the last time somebody actually glanced their eyes over them to make sure that they’re still going to be the most efficient way of working for your team and the business direction where they’re going from right now? Well, thank you for joining me today. I hope you have the most fabulous rest of your week creating clever systems for your business.

Bye now. Well, there we go. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on board. Have we connected on the socials yet? If not, please come on over. I’m on all the platforms @theartisanssolutions So I’d really look forward to seeing you over there. And if you enjoyed today’s episode, don’t forget to tag me.

And I’d love it if you could leave a review and of course, share this with others so others can come and join us next time. All right, then everyone have a fabulous rest of the week. And until next time, see you then.


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.