Understanding Standard Operational Procedure (SOP)
SOP stands for Standard Operational Procedures and sometimes refer to system (not standard) and procedure only (without operational). Many companies are operating without the support of a standard system. They operate by habit more on what they have operated for years and eventually became a customs/culture of the company. Not only limited to small-scale companies, medium and large scale companies still do not have a standard or standardized operational system. Generally, all the existing system are validated and recorded by each department/section head or the key person, in which the key person may have worked a long time for this company. Not all companies neglect the SOP, even in some and generally large companies, they have a separate department that specifically deal with the company’s system and procedure. As for small and medium scale companies, this system and procedure function is affiliated at the department of accounting or some are under the department of human resources.

Ideally, system and procedure is handled by a separate department or at least there is a special person in charge (PIC) handle it, considering the work of a system and procedure staff should always review the existing system and also the development of such system in the future. If the work is concurrently performed by a particular PIC, then the result will not be maximized because the PIC is bound to complete his/her main job first, then he/she will review the existing system. In addition, there is an assumption that the PIC will make the system that is more beneficial for his/her department. This is different when the work is handled by a special PIC, one who hold the position of system and procedures and should focus on the company and internal control, impartial specific department in preparing a system and procedure. This system and procedure department should be in the middle position and should be able to become a mediator among departments so that operations can run smoothly and certainly not neglecting a good function of the Internal Control, as well.
Function and responsibility of head of system and procedure department
Now let us see the major functions that must be conducted by a head of the department of system and procedure:
  1. Preparing the departmental budget. The budget is required in order to realize the action plan the department.
  2. Plan, design, implement System Procedure to be made. This is certainly preceded by other steps such as surveys, understand the business and its operations, learn the current condition, estimated cost, and so forth.
  3. Provide an explanation and present SOPs that are made. This capability is especially important in accommodating the interests of some existing department.
  4. Provide input or suggestion for the development of the company system
  5. Can work well together as a team with all the department within the company.
Stages in developing SOPs
The common stages to be considered are:
  1. Business operation. Make a preliminary study, what the business of the company that will we make the SOP. Find information as accurately and completely as possible.
  2. Survey. Perform site surveys that will put up the system. Also do interviews when necessary.
  3. List of needs. List all equipment, hardware and software (if any), and other necessary requirements.
  4. Cost. Calculate the costs to be incurred for every possible system that will run.
  5. Choose the best system to be developed.
  6. Selection is made upon consideration of all available from the SOP team members and decided by corporate heads.
  7. Draft SOP. Prepare and compile draft SOP, perform related discussions with the team, doing presentations when needed. Preparation of this draft SOP manual contents contained therein, as already discussed above, including testing (trial and error).
  8. Approval. Ask for an approval made before applying SOP.
SOP manual contents
The main things that exist in a SOP:
  1. Approval. Approval herein can be adapted to the conditions of each company on who must sign the SOP.
  2. Objective. For the sake of what the SOP is prepared
  3. Definition. Because of this SOP are common to all people, then the definition becomes important things that need to be standardized. All readers of the SOP is expected to have a similar understanding for a term contained in the SOP.
  4. Policy. Rules for a system also needs to be prepared for the smooth implementation of these SOPs.
  5. Explanation of procedures. The meaning of the explanation here could be explained in some forms, there is in the form of charts or images, narration, operational guidelines (simple work instructions). It aims to accommodate all the needs of readers SOPs.
  6. Attachment. The SOP can also be given an attachment that contains all the things associated with the SOP, for example: a sample form, sample reports, and so on.
SOP implementation
SOPs that have got approval should be implemented. The SOP team should provide guidance to implementers how to implement the system. Implementation must be accompanied by the members of SOP Team .
SOP review
A new SOP that has been implemented is necessary to be reviewed at least 1 (one) year or less. It is important considering that during the new system trial, there are sometimes new problems arise that are not predicted in advance and we should very quickly solve them so as not to interfere with company operations.
Successful implementation of SOP
The company’s success in applying SOP is influenced by several aspects, including:
  1. Support All of the Department
  2. Since the SOPs activities are generally across the Department, then every Head of Department should  support the implementation of this SOP in their departments respectively to give the directions and instructions to his subordinates for the application of SOP.
  3. Corporate Leadership Commitment
  4. Because SOP is join product, is prepared, and is involving all layers of groups within the Company and approved by the corporate heads, then it is the commitment of the all company’s heads to maintain the continuity of the SOP which is very important and a key to successful implementation of the SOP. SOP is made to apply together and there is no special treatment for certain employees not to apply it. When it happens it will be included in this exemption that is also provided for implementation.
Employee response against SOP
  1. Add more job
  2. It is impressed that with the SOP, there will be more and more administrative work. Such responses could be true if the old administration work system is still maintained and coupled with the new system on the SOP. So an employee will perform two different work systems to achieve a goal. It should leave the old system of working and move on to the SOP that has been approved and agreed with its application.
  3. SOP is rigid and designed without compromise so it makes a hurdle for company’s operation
  4. SOP is already standardized by mutual consent. But its application could have been conflicted by the policy in the SOP, therefore in making SOP, we have to think of exceptions that arise when a policy role in SOP can not be met and is usually set therein who will take the responsibility.
  5. Afraid of mistake at work and less in confident.
  6. There is a culture among the implementers that all activities should be strictly in accordance with the SOP, so that when necessary authorization is needed, this authorization will be requested to all authorities (joint responsibility), whereas the SOP has created such an authorization decree. This makes the process flow and time required to handle become long. Such impression should be avoided, given what has been agreed with the SOP may be a reference in the operation.
  7. Future steps will facilitate the company in obtaining the ISO (International Standard Organization).