Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are written instructions that outline and standardize procedures within your professional service organization. SOPs are used in every industry to keep business practices in compliance with legal, financial, and industry regulations. However, SOPs are particularly important for professional service companies for a variety of reasons. One reason would be that it’s important to make sure all of your clients are being treated equally and going through the same process; this can be ensured through the use of sound SOPs. Another reason would be to guarantee that billing and payments are completed consistently, correctly, and in a timely manner-an important matter to both you and your clients. SOPs are also important for guiding everyday workflow, such as prioritizing communications and ordering office supplies, which allows your company to run smoothly and better serve your clients.
In more common language, SOPs are how-to’s that cover every aspect of your business. For example, a private chiropractic practice will have step-by-step instructions outlining what information must be obtained from a new patient. A standard operating procedure can be anything from a detailed written manual, with or without diagrams, to a simple picture that shows where a specific item goes in the office storage room. Most professional service firms are putting their procedures in the cloud by using sites that allow you to write, manage, store and access your files anywhere in the world, like our site BizProcedures.
Below are some of the most convincing arguments in favor of creating SOPs for your professional service company.
Maintaining Quality Standards
SOPs ensure that every employee is on the same page when it comes to providing services, whether that includes account management, marketing and sales, or client interactions. This ensures a consistent standard of quality throughout your company. Additionally, when you have SOPs that guarantee quality standards across the board, various tasks can easily be delegated to any employee, all with the same outcome.
When problems arise in your business’ daily operation, SOPs provide you a roadmap for troubleshooting. These procedures describe how to diagnose and solve problems so that any employee can do it. For example, your SOPs may cover what to do if your client database has crashed, with step-by-step instructions, so that your employees don’t need to spend half the day on hold with technical help. Not all troubleshooting is technical, however. Troubleshooting SOPs will also provide your employees with guidance on how to deal with issues such as travel complications, a bad review from a client, etc.
When you have clearly spelled out procedures, this prevents your employees and yourself from making emotional or rash decisions. Problems and conflicts can be solved quickly, consistently, and fairly, with no guesswork. Not only will this make things easier for you and your employees, but it will also project to your clients a cohesive voice and identity for your company.
Reduced Learning Curve and Errors
SOPs allow you to train new employees easily, minimizing the learning curve for new hires. If new employees have access to your company’s SOPs right away, they can quickly understand how to best perform their tasks and they’ll make fewer errors. They can then settle into your company more quickly and become an efficient, hard-working team member almost instantly.
A Safe, Healthy Environment
By using your SOPs to put and keep your company in compliance with all safety and health regulations, you ensure a happier (and compliant) workplace. These SOPs also protect your company legally in cases of liability.
SOPs keep you in compliance with regulations and laws, particularly in heavily regulated industries like the financial services and healthcare. They’re easy to update when laws change, and are a convenient way to quickly inform all employees about pertinent government regulations, as well as your company’s compliance with them. If there is a sudden inspection of your company, everything will be in order. Clients and the general public may also investigate your company, and if you can show them this documentation, it increases transparency and engenders feelings of trust.
Your SOPs make managing finances, handling bookkeeping, and filing taxes much easier because everybody will know exactly where and how documents are stored. Rather than scrambling for receipts and bills come tax season, all of your financial data will be neatly organized all year long if you have well-written financial SOPs.
More Value for Your Company
All of the above benefits of SOPS create an even larger perk for your company – they make your company more profitable by maximizing efficiency. This especially helps if you choose to sell the company in the future, and it helps you secure funding when you need it. Financial lenders nearly always look at SOPs when considering a professional service company for a loan.
To learn more about how to effectively use standard operating procedures in your professional service company, check out the report “Introduction to SOPs for Professional Service Companies.”