Fundamentally, a business comprises a sequence of operations. If there's one essential document that should serve as the primary reference for accomplishing tasks, it's a Standard Operating Procedure, often abbreviated as SOP. These internal manuals are meticulously crafted by companies to establish streamlined, effective, and consistent workflows. We use SOPS in our Amazon Prep Centre, but realistically, they are EVERYWHERE in the world of business!
So lets jump into a few questions to find out how they can help with the running of your business.
What is a SOP?
SOP stands for standard operating procedure. A SOP is a procedure created to simplify processes within a business that repeat. In relation to running your Amazon FBA business, this could be from staff training, sourcing, purchasing, book keeping, admin tasks and so on.. To be honest, the list can be endless! The SOP will cover step-by-step instructions to guide employees on how to perform a technical, repetitive process within an organization.
SOPs are written for a set of people who will perform the task. Without guidelines, each person might complete the job in his or her own way.
How would SOPS benefit my business?
As we mention above, the purpose of a SOP is to simplify. By simplifying a process, it creates systems that are easy to understand and use by different members of staff. If a SOP is implemented correctly, it will streamline a process, improve workflows and automation, minimise errors and improve consistency.
Some key benefits. Align every worker to the standard way of working in a company to create consistency
Provides clarification for every employee
Result in consistent, superior product or service output
Reduce chances for costly errors due to miscommunication
Stay on schedule
Ensure compliance, i.e. food manufacturers must follow FDA regulations
Reduce product recall rates
Improve operational efficiency
How do you create a SOP?
This is where it can seem a little overwhelming, BUT don't be put off by this and take it one step at a time.
The first step is to understand EVERY process involved in your business and write each of them down.
Once you have all of them on paper, it is time to work through them one at a time. Dig deep into each process by writing down EVERY step involved. Include:
Title: Every SOP will have a unique title depending on what it’s outlining.
Introduction: Some companies like to include a reminder of the organization’s mission.
Scope of SOP: This section covers the purpose of the SOP and the process it covers and why it’s important to follow the enclosed steps, like compliance and/or safety.
Contacts: Every SOP should identify who the document is intended for, list roles and responsibilities, and contact information for coordinating personnel.
Glossary: If the SOP includes specific language or acronyms, include a glossary of terms.
Step-by-step process: This section is where the procedure is broken down into step-by-step instructions with relevant information, like specific equipment used. For some processes, this might be a visual representation, like a flowchart.
Checklists: Often, itemized checklists are easier to follow and some SOPs might be better described in this form.
Okay, so now you have the processes that you currently follow on paper, its time STANDARDISE these. To do this, we need carry out a little bit of analysis on each step. I find the best way to achieve this is by carrying out a SWO(T) analysis on each element (but without the T!).. I know that this is acronym is usually used to assess competition, but hey... It comes in handy across the business world!
Strength- What are the strengths in this step?
Weaknesses- Is the step time/resource/labour intensive?
Opportunity- What opportunities are there to improve the step? Automate? streamline? outsource?
Once you have carried out your analysis, you are in a great place to restructure and document your new and improved SOPS... Just remember... Keep it simple, keep it structured!
You will be amazed how refreshing it is to have clarity and confirmation from your new and improved business structure, knowing that you can now grow your team with confidence!
Carry out monthly and yearly reviews on all of your SOPs to keep them relevant with any changes within your business. Gain staff feed back on your SOPs to see if the feel if the SOP is still up to standard.
How would SOPs work in a Amazon FBA Prep Centre?
As mentioned above SOPs work in any environment and any good Amazon FBA Prep Centre is no different. SOP allow us to be as efficient as we can and to offer the same high level of service to each of our clients. Looking for a prep centre? Blue30 is an UK Amazon Prep Centre, offering a product preparation service for Amazon FBA sellers. We're here to save you valuable time and energy so that you are able to focus on other aspects of the business. Find out more about our pricing. As an Amazon Prep Centre, we receive your products, inspect them, create the shipping plan, prepare them as required and dispatch them. Find out more about Our Services here.