One of the most crucial elements for project management success is organization.
Because a team without a concrete structure for managing projects will fail once it encounters a challenge. You don’t want your team to look like a bunch of renegade windup toys running into each other if the client says, “Jump!”
That is so not a good look for your project management skills.
All right, what’s the solution then?
You need a clear set of project management SOPs (standard operating procedures) that everyone can and will follow.
Overview: What Is a Standard Operating Procedure or SOP?
A standard operating procedure or SOP is an official document outlining the systematic method of carrying out and completing a process. SOPs must be comprehensive, clear, and logical.
The major goals of an SOP are to:
- Track project’s progress
- Meet deadlines
- Anticipate future risks
- Achieve consistent results on repeat
The detailed instructions in the SOP must keep employees on task and on point with deliverables.
Drafting an SOP must-haves
Thorough research is needed to draft the SOP.
Stakeholders play a big part in making a successful standard operating procedure because of the practical knowledge they can bring to the table. They can state their industry objectives and ensure the organization gets the resources it needs.
Just as well, employees should contribute to the official SOP of a project since ultimately, they’re the end-users.
Drafting an SOP isn’t just helpful in the actual operation of the company. An SOP is also useful for training new hires and channeling their most relevant skills for the project’s success.
Also, an SOP will help new team members to familiarize themselves with company’s internal processes and their professional responsibilities.
The Importance of a Project Management SOP
Project management helps us get shi$ done — especially in business. Successful project management sets goals, how to achieve them, and when to achieve them.
In addition, it ensures that everyone in the development team understands and contributes to the project from start to finish. Furthermore, airtight project wrangling involves thorough planning, management, and communication.
What’s the importance of a project management SOP? Let’s talk about the reasons in detail.
Even though the project manager and everyone on the team already knows what to do when they encounter certain SNAFUs, the truth is, they won’t stay in the company forever.
SOPs help you employee-proof your business.
We need to make sure that even if a star employee leaves, the professional experience and knowledge they contributed will live on.
You’ll need to document these aspects as part of the SOP for project management. This way, you’ll ensure the organization will continue to move forward even if your star player puts in their two-weeks.
When your development teams work on a broad range of projects, it’s impossible for everyone to remember the exact processes involved in an activity they haven’t handled lately.
Anyone can get a little rusty. But an SOP greases those memory wheels.
Establishing clear, concise step-by-step standard instructions will help the team master the process of producing a particular business product or services over and over again.
It will help the project management team eliminate any possible error compromising the products or services.
The SOP sets the metrics to gauge the improvement of employees’ performance and professional growth.
When team members follow the SOP, they’ll understand what the organization expects from them. As a result, they’ll strive for quality and contribute significant support to the project management.
Stress causes even the brightest bulb in the chandelier to fumble their words. When under pressure, we’re often can’t express ourselves clearly.
It can happen to some of the best project managers and team leaders. And when it does, there’s miscommunication and misunderstandings.
If something is unclear, employees can always refer to the SOP. Problem solved. Lights on blast.
Identify All the Processes Within a Project: Step by Step
If you write an SOP, it can seem like an overwhelming task — especially if you’re not one of those fancy-schmancy professional writers. So, break the process down into shallow steps so you can stay focused and organized.
Baby steps make everything less overwhelming:
- Step 1: Project Scope and Objectives — Start with the end already in mind. What result do you want, who will do it, and what steps does it take?
- Step 2: Project Infrastructure — This step describes the project’s motif and where it will fit in, and its nature or which infrastructure is involved.
- Step 3: Characteristics — In this step, you’ll identify the project’s product and analyze its characteristics.
- Step 4: Product or Services — Outline the final products or services the customer will get, including how all these aspects move through the supply chain before reaching the end-user.
- Step 5: Estimate the Time and Effort for Each Activity — Every project needs a definitive start and finish date. Setting any dates, though, ultimately depends on how long any one process takes. So, plan your schedules along with budget management to produce the correct results on targeted dates.
- Step 6: Risks — These are always present. In project management, you’ll need to account for any the risks involved in certain activities so you can either avoid or mitigate them.
- Step 7: Resource Allocation — For successful project management (and business), allocate your resources and distribute them to the necessary projects to ensure workloads are evenly assigned.
- Step 8: Review — The first draft of SOPs is then reviewed and tested to see if it will yield the desired results.
- Step 9: Execution — The finalized and publicized SOP for project management is executed.
Is This a Recurring Project? Could You Repeat It?
You can use and follow standard operating procedures again and again for recurring projects with processes that don’t change too much.
But for best practices, you’ll need to occasionally review and update your SOPs. The ideal frequency is every one to two years.
The review’s goal is to check if the procedures are still practical and feasible, and whether the focus of the procedure has changed. During the review, you can determine if the SOPs are still needed, or if you need to change or remove them.
You can also add additional details to further flesh out your SOP. Include the interval for future reviews in the updated SOP document along with an updates history.
How To Create an SOP
In SOP writing, there are several important factors to consider:
- Goals — Defines the specific goals of each SOP. Provides precise instructions on how to accomplish each step accurately to achieve targets.
- Assets — Refers to the tools, programs, software, spreadsheets, links, and other applicable information required to create the SOP.
- Location — A centralized and cloud-based storage where the information for SOP is located such as Asana, Google Drive, Slack, Airtable, etc.
- Tools and Resources — The tools and resources needed to accomplish a task or process. These tools and resources should be identified on the SOP along with important information about them.
- Deliverables — Refers to the more tangible outputs you’ll achieve with the SOP.
- Metrics — These are any particular metrics that evaluate and check if the processes are achieving your desired goals.
- Instructions or Criteria — The SOP must have clear instructions for completing every procedure. It must also define standards to follow when working toward a goal.
We made that word up but the point still stands.
Once you’ve established an official standard operating procedure, you can use it as the baseline format for writing SOPs in the future.
To get started, you can make a template from this sample SOP. You’re welcome.
How can you create the sample SOP?
Step 1 — Choose a document software program to create the template. You can go the traditional route with Microsoft Word. Or Google Sheets, Notion, Get Guru, Slite, etc.
Step 2 — Create a file for the SOP Template.
Step 3 — Define the SOP format. This includes the control block where you’ll outline the compliance standards, management information and dates. Then add header and footer with the company name or department’s name and page numbers. Lastly, set the page margin.
Pssst. A bigger page margin is needed if you’re printing and binding the SOP document.
Step 4 —Work that content and add your key elements:
- Goal. The document’s goal must be written in one or two sentences. Be brief but concise. There’s no need for more elaborate details yet, oh budding professional writer.
- Scope. A complete explanation of what’s tackled in the SOP that’s clear and easy to understand.
- Table of Contents if needed. A list of the SOP’s sections along with numbers.
- Reference Guide. List of other documents referred to in the SOP.
- Definition of Terms. Organizational terms used in the SOP document and in the company.
- Tools, Assets, and Location. This section provides direction on the assets and tools related to the SOP and the location of where to find these tools.
- Tasks and Responsibilities. This section identifies who does a specific task.
- Procedure. This relates to the instructions and criteria that you’ve identified for your SOP, broken down into steps that should be taken and maintained to achieve the deliverables.
- Monitoring. This section identifies who is responsible for monitoring the SOP implementation and the metrics you identified for assessing the results.
- History of Revisions. Date of revisions along with the reason for revision.
Step 5 — Finalize the SOP style. This includes the fonts styles and sizes, and paragraph styles. Make sure it’s on-brand.
Step 6 — Save your shiny new template file on a shared drive and inform the necessary stakeholders. Make sure to put it on Read Only setting so no one can copy or alter it.
Build the Framework for an Effective Project Management SOP with ScaleTime!
SOPs maximize teams’ efficiency and save organizations from potential future headaches. When implemented correctly, they can certainly take a business to a new level.
- Start small
- Define your goals and deliverables
- Properly allocate your resources along with your budget planning
- Determine your metrics
- Give clear instructions
- Use a template to craft a repeatable SOP sample
- Update and review your SOPs
So, that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about creating an effective project management SOP.
Are you ready to get started on yours? There are tools available to make this process even better and easier.
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