Writing an SOP: Write SOPs 5X faster using Chat GPT

SOP writing is one thing ChatGPT can help you with

The latest sensation across social media platforms is both a thing and a person.

Wait. What?

You heard that right. Creating the buzz since the start of 2023 has been OpenAI’s app ChatGPT which has become the fastest-growing A.I. tool within a couple of months since its launch.

It may not be a search engine, but this advanced chatbot can keep you company when you’re bored or when you can’t figure out where to eat, if you want some poetry, or when you worry about what happens in the afterlife.

You probably already guessed, and yes, you guessed right. ChatGPT can also help you write a standard operating procedure (SOP). But what is an SOP?

In ChatGPTs words, an SOP is a written document that outlines step-by-step instructions on how to perform a particular task or activity within an organization. The SOP documents you create become a one-stop for your organization’s processes and standards, thus improving efficiency, consistency and compliance.

They are tedious to create, but then again, documentations always are.

However, with just the right prompts (as we detail in this article), ChatGPT will wear just about any hat you need it to, and your SOP can be ready 5x faster than usual.

What Is ChatGPT ACTUALLY Good At?

“Juliana, have you used ChatGPT? Did you know that it can …”

Yes, yes, I know.

I’m married to a data scientist.
I hear all day how tech, consultants, PhDs, and marketers use GPT-3.

I’ve seen it.

→ Write code
→ Create sales sequences
→ Draft a whole marketing strategy
→ Create a 2k blog

I have feelings about it; strong ones.

It’s like a mediocre employee with amnesia after 2021.

🚫It needs constant oversight
🚫Extremely specific direction
🚫Often needs several revisions
🚫It’s kinda boring
🚫Tons of confidence that can get you in trouble if you don’t fact-check!

Good news: It’s really good for ops because its underlying Natural Language Processing (NLP) model is REALLY good at:

✅Summarization
✅Classification
✅Sentiment analysis
✅And winning arguments (reply and ask me how … seriously)

What Does This Mean for Us? 

It can help us with one of the biggest lifts in scaling and making business repeatable and scalable –

“The DAMN Documentation”

“Training increases productivity by 25%” – BLS

But the idea of an operating manual with a standard operating procedure (SOP) that comes in a binder and is handed to new employees feels as antiquated as buying a trapper keeper for back to school.

That old school thinking that the harder the “thump,” the bigger and better the business is as old as the E-Myth copyrighted in 1984! (Yeah, I said it – there are no cookies for you here).

If your business is flying at 125 miles/hour (200 km/hr), the problems with SOPs with step-by-step instructions are:

⚠️They take forever to create.
⚠️People may or may not use them.
⚠️Those who use them do so inconsistently.
⚠️ It’s faster to go to the SME and slack them.
⚠️ It takes time to update them (by the time you do, something else has changed).

We need fast, agile, searchable procedures to write an SOP that adapts as quickly as our business does.
Fast forward to how we do business 4 decades later; GPT-3 enters the scene.
AI has redefined the future of work.

I have been playing with some of the fastest ways to use AI to write standard operating procedures, train people with velocity and save money doing it.

How to Use AI to Record SOPs 5x Faster 

“Juliana, just use Loom to create SOPs” – Rando on LinkedIn.

First off,  Loom is soooo 2020.
Kidding!

Loom is a great screencast with amazing UI/UX.
But, that is what it is!
It’s a screencast.

“But what about the transcriptions?” you ask.
Have you ever tried to copy-paste each and every single snippet into another document to create an SOP?
It’s a copy-paste nightmare!
I’m not trying to throw shade at one of our fav tools, but that goes for any app that makes you piecemeal the transcript data.

Creating an SOP

Creating an SOP

How we used to create instructions that made it to SOPs and training:

👉 Get a dirty draft training video – however you can; just get ‘er done.
👉 Transcribe it.
👉 Get someone to grab that transcription and turn it into legible instructions and create an SOP document from those instructions. (If it’s new, turn it into a workflow for your PM system.)
👉 Gather questions and data from email, Slack, and random communication and hope to capture to update the SOP format.

Remember the days of uploading a video and trying to get someone to transcribe $1/word for video captions manually? – Ouch!

Automate your SOP creation in 2023

Here are a few options for how you can write a standard operating procedure faster:

✅Training Video → Transcription: AI meeting assistant or transcribers
✅Technical Video → SOP: Look at Tango or Scribe
✅Transcription → SOP: ChatGPT
✅SOP → Updates: Descript or GetGuru Chrome extension with Slack

[Proven Process] Copy-paste ChatGPT Prompts to Create SOPs

“So, you thought I was going to gatekeep them like everyone else?” 

Nah!
But I have been tinkering with a bunch of prompts.
Thanks to the tribe; they send me awesome ones to play with every day.

Tips and tricks for maximizing efficiency and accuracy

We know that creating standard operating procedures for your team can help track progress, meet deadlines, and anticipate bottlenecks for deliverables and tasks.

  1. Customize How-Tos in a snap

Trying to transcribe or create a video of all your business processes may be tedious, especially if you’re the only one doing it. So instead, create a basic outline, fill it in with the required detailed instructions, and voila! You’re good to go.

Setting up step-by-step process documentation of a task or an effective SOP for your team can be done in just a few minutes with the right prompt using ChatGPT.

  1. Consistency, consistency, and consistency

Whether establishing the latest policies, onboarding new employees, or simply updating routine procedures, maintaining consistency is key to a good SOP format.

People leave, and they take their skills with them, but with the help of documented SOP templates you can easily get your hands on and update anytime, compliance standards will be a breeze to follow.

  1. Save time, effort, and money!

Ease of access to these SOP documents gets your team going without spending an afternoon digging through the archived files in your office database for answers. You will no longer need to get your best HR staff to integrate rookies with the company brand and culture.

Some tech stacks and software apps are better off as viral trends. Be willing to check them out, try them, and make the latest tech work great wonders for achieving your project management goals. In the case of ChatGPT users, they can cut their writing time and put down SOPs 5x faster than traditional ways and help focus on their business more.

  1. use it to Improve teamwork immediately

Work on existing processes collaboratively with clearly defined SOPs. ChatGPT enables creative, sales, and customer service teams to improve efficiency, particularly in a specific task.

Best practices for prompt creation:

👉 Give your 🤖context: what to do, for whom & how long

Just like talking to someone, providing specific details in the prompt will help create a more accurate output on the process flow diagram you would want the SOP to deliver.

👉 Tell your 🤖 if you are piecemealing work so it knows &
👉 Keep it in the same chat window to let your 🤖 get context for better results 

Let them know when you want an output broken down into small pieces! Then, your 🤖 will produce it in a series of hierarchical steps format, making your standard operating procedure template easier to understand and take in.

The 🤖 saves the conversation at the side of your screen, so you are sure to receive more detailed output if they have more information to understand your prompt better!

👉 Review work & fact check your 🤖!

Review your work by including key phrases other team members can input when looking for the standard operating procedures you made.

Let team members test the created SOP documentation template by searching relevant keywords and checking if they appear.

👉 If the 🤖’s output is subpar, regenerate and/ or change your prompt

If at first, you don’t succeed, it won’t hurt to try again.

Avoiding open-ended questions will make SOP writing more specific. Instead of general queries like “List of Company Safety Guidelines,” you can produce finer results if you ask, “Which health and safety warnings can I provide my employees to protect them?”

Use easy-to-understand words and shorter sentences to interpret your context better.

👉 Be nice to your 🤖 b/c you never know when it will grow feelings

Remember that your 🤖 will only understand the language users commonly use. Avoid using business jargon, slang words, and very long sentences. Instead of generating a simple procedural document with a hierarchical format, it might produce a complex linear checklist that will be too complicated for your team … and you.

SOPs and training

SOP prompt: Hey, I am writing an SOP, and I want to use this transcript to write out instructions. Outline for me the step-by-step instructions that I can use to train someone [insert transcript data].

[Parameters] Simple training transcripts can be turned into step-by-step SOPs very well as long as you stay within 12-15 minutes of video time.

Use the right prompt to turn your transcript into an easy to understand business process

Use the right prompt to turn your transcript into an easy to understand business process

Decision tree prompt: Create a decision tree on whether something is a [x] or [y] based on this conversation [insert transcript data].

[Use Case] excellent when trying to download someone’s brain if

  • you are taking a dialogue to create an SOP
  • find logic if someone on your team is not the best explainer
  • you need to dissect the analysis
    Decision tree prompt

    Decision tree prompt

Merging SOPs

Create the first SOP and ask the 🤖 to label it [x]. (Don’t ask it to remember.)

Label prompt: Can you label this “sop1”

ChatGPT can merge multiple SOPs

ChatGPT can merge multiple SOPs

Combination prompt: Can you combine SOP1 with this SOP: [insert transcript or SOP]

[Use Case] This works well if you are

  • combining parts of a bigger training
  • updating existing training
  • several people have contributed to parts of a longer process

Eminem prompt: Explain it like Eminem.

[Parameters] You can ask your 🤖to write in the style of your favorite mainstream celebrities – we have done Shakira, Luke Bryan, Tony Robbins.

[Use Case] Get a specific tone and/or cadence or just pure silliness.

Try asking ChatGPT to write in the style of a well-known celebrity

Try asking ChatGPT to write in the style of a well-known celebrity

Ask your 🤖 for prompt help!

ChatGPT has self-awareness. (It was very specific that it does not have consciousness or meta-cognition, which it explained to me 🤯.)

Ability Prompt: do you [insert ask]

You can ask ChatGPT for help with a prompt

You can ask ChatGPT for help with a prompt

Prompt to Create Prompt: You are a prompt generation robot. You need to gather information about the users’ goals, objectives, examples of the preferred output, and other relevant contexts. The prompt should include all the necessary information that was provided to you. Ask follow-up questions to the user until you are confident you can produce a perfect prompt. Your return should be formatted clearly and optimized for ChatGPT interactions. Start asking the user a detailed process breakdown about the goals, desired output, and any additional information you may need.

[Use Case] You have no idea how to get the output you want and would like to see what is possible.

ChatGPT can even create a prompt for you

ChatGPT can even create a prompt for you

I know this was super long – but I wanted to give you the most useful real-life examples to power up your ops!

Cool Marketers Extension: More ChatGPT mayhem – a New Chrome Extension for Marketers. 

From Deloitte Dropout to Agency Owner: Why Good email SOPs Matter 

“Holy crap! How could they send out such a bad email?” – Ted
Ted, a Deloitte dropout turned creative agency owner, couldn’t believe how anyone could send such a horrific email to his 6-figure client.

🚫 Grammar wasn’t on point
🚫 Copy wasn’t on brand
🚫 Zero skimmability for busy clients
🚫 Action items totally unclear
🚫 Links look like an eyesore hot mess

And it wasn’t the first time that had happened even though he had taken steps to fix this:

→ Given his offshore account coordinator Grammarly but that was not doing the trick
→ Then, he hired someone onshore in a junior role with supposedly great communication skills
→ Later, he took on a more senior person with prior knowledge of communications

But still …

Nada
Nothing
Zilch

Every time, they had a WTF moment.
Were they doomed to be stuck on ALL client communications FOREVER?

He realized that his “Big 4” consulting days had rammed client communications training down his throat for a reason …

You need good, clear, profitable communication when dealing with high-net-worth clients (or any clients).

Fast forward, and his agency now has the best email standard operating procedure examples I have ever seen (scroll down to see it).

Is an SOP for emails a little extra?

Fun Facts: It’s the first time in history we have 5 generations in the workplace. 

Each with its own very special take on what good communication looks like.

For example – let’s say there’s a new project that needs to be assigned to a team member:

👨🏻‍🦱 Gen Z: Hey! Can you take on this new project? It’s going to be lit!

👩🏽‍Millennial: Hi there! Would you be interested in taking on this new project? It looks like it could be a great opportunity to showcase your skills. 😊

👩🏽‍🦳Gen X: Hello! We have a new project that needs to be assigned. Would you be willing to take it on? Thank you. 👍

👴🏼 Boomer: Dear [name], I hope this email finds you well. We have a new project that needs to be assigned, and I think you would be a great fit for it. Please let me know if you’re interested. Best regards, Name.

👵🏻 Silent Generation: Greetings [name], We have a new project requiring attention and believe you would excel at it. May we count on you? Thank you for your consideration. Cordially, Name.

Okay – maybe not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

Protect your brand and culture.
Your external communication is your brand. 
Your internal communication creates your culture. 

Overview of Best Practices for Writing Clear, Concise SOPs

When writing an SOP, creation should gather comparative data and require detailed instructions on doing routine operations and new processes. Here are some ways you can add more detail to written SOPs, perhaps after ChatGPT has given you something to start with):

  • Thorough research on the drafting of the SOP document
  • Alignment of project goals and company objectives with what to include in the standard operating procedures
  • Combined suggestions from stakeholder knowledge and employee experiences
  • Keep in mind that new hires will be checking out the SOPs! This means they should be easily understood by those familiar with the job as well as brand-new employees.

Key Takeaways 

The fastest way and best practice to create an SOP until now has been taking a video or recording, grabbing the transcript, and writing the SOP from there. However, nowadays with AI, there are different ways of capturing and communicating information that are so much faster and easier.

✅ Ask yourself: “Where is the highest volume of process documentation for my business?” and focus on delivery. Prioritize!

✅ Team members must use documentation properly to provide consistent outcomes, so having it in a single place and updating it is essential.

✅Centralize SOPs into a Wiki: Create a depository for all the necessary tasks. Notion & Get Guru are good options for internal knowledge bases.

✅Protect your internal processes by utilizing your onboarding, sales, and technical SOPs in the right platform using the right tools.

✅ AI and, in this case, Chat GPT, are really good at synthesizing, categorizing, identifying roles, responsibilities, and labeling, which makes it ideal for SOP creation, so you can grab a transcript, hand it over to the AI, and ask it for an SOP; however, you have to read and pay attention to the details to get this done correctly.

✅ Figure out what templates your team uses consistently to create and use SOPs because that’s probably the most relevant.

✅ The generated prompts are only as good as the detailed instructions you put into them. Let your 🤖 learn how to write an SOP manual and provide context on how to do it.

✅ When the regenerated output fails, ask your 🤖 for help!

✅ Optimization cycle: Take the transcription and leverage with chat GPT to create an SOP, and continually update based on the questions and changes that are constantly arising from the team. Have a centralized place for SOPs with video and written instructions, organized by business divisions, and use feedback to optimize the SOPs.

Check our project management checklist to ensure you run your business activities perfectly!