Top 5 Standard Operating Procedure Mistakes to Avoid

Processes & SOP's
Top 5 Standard Operating Procedure Mistakes to Avoid
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Published by
Mike Bandar
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    Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are essential for maintaining consistency and efficiency in business operations. However, creating effective SOPs is not always straightforward. Many businesses fall into common traps that hinder their progress. In this article, we will explore the top 5 mistakes businesses make when creating SOPs and how to avoid them. If you need detailed steps on how to create an SOP, check out our article on How to Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Your Business.

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    Mistake 1: Overcomplicating SOPs

    Overly detailed and complex SOPs can overwhelm employees, making them less likely to use these documents effectively.

    Consider a marketing agency owner who had an excessively thick employee manual full of jargon and unnecessary details. Her team was constantly inconsistent and frequently asked the same questions because they were overwhelmed and avoided using the SOPs altogether.

    Keep SOPs simple and clear, focusing on clarity and purpose. Here’s how:

    • Define the Purpose: Ensure each SOP has a clear purpose, and outline who owns it and who it’s for. This keeps the content focused and relevant.
    • Be Specific and Unambiguous: When creating SOPs, use a “Noting for Yourself, and then Editing for Others” approach. Separate the information gathering and drafting phases from the final editing phase to maintain focus on value.
    • Use Diverse Media: Incorporate images, videos, checklists, and other media to convey information more effectively. Tools like Waybook Shots can help capture and share SOPs seamlessly.

    By simplifying SOPs and using diverse media, you can make them more accessible and easier to follow, resulting in improved understanding and efficiency.

    Mistake 2: Neglecting User Feedback

    Ignoring feedback from employees who use the SOPs daily can lead to inefficiencies and high turnover.

    Many businesses miss out on valuable insights by not soliciting or ignoring user feedback, which can lead to outdated and ineffective SOPs.

    Create a feedback loop to gather and implement user feedback:

    • Enable Easy Feedback Mechanisms: Ask for feedback on individual documents and track interactions with your knowledge base.
    • Regularly Review Feedback: Make the management of your SOPs an iterative process. Regularly review and incorporate feedback to continuously improve your procedures.

    By enabling feedback and using analytics, you can continuously improve your SOPs based on real user experiences. Businesses that make this a monthly activity not only enhance their procedures but also boost employee engagement and retention by at least 30%.

    Mistake 3: Lack of Accessibility

    Difficult-to-access SOPs hinder productivity and lead to repetitive questions from employees.

    Teams often struggle to find up-to-date information in cluttered storage systems like Google Drive or SharePoint, which leads to inefficiencies.

    Centralize SOPs in an easily searchable location and integrate them into workflows:

    • Centralize Knowledge: Create a single source of truth so everyone knows where to find information.
    • Implement Unified Search: Ensure there is a powerful search feature to quickly locate documents and specific information within them.
    • Ensure Multi-Mode Accessibility: Make SOPs accessible across various platforms, including websites, browser extensions, mobile apps, and communication tools like Slack or Teams.

    Improved accessibility reduces friction and saves time, making it easier for your team to find and use the information they need.

    Mistake 4: Not Keeping SOPs Updated

    Outdated SOPs lead to inconsistencies and errors in business operations.

    A popular burrito chain in the UK faced issues when their SOPs became outdated as they expanded to new locations, leading to operational inefficiencies.

    Regularly update SOPs and assign clear ownership and accountability:

    • Set a Review Schedule: Depending on the SOP, choose to review it every month, quarter, or year. Even small changes can keep SOPs relevant.
    • Empower Your Team: Clearly define who owns the knowledge, who should contribute, and who has the ultimate sign-off. Encourage regular updates to avoid making the task overwhelming.
    • Utilize a Review Cycle: Set responsibilities and ensure proper approvals for each SOP update.

    Regularly updating SOPs and assigning accountability ensures they remain relevant and effective, preventing operational errors.

    Mistake 5: Failing to Train on SOPs

    SOPs are ineffective if employees aren’t trained on how to use them.

    Teams may not use SOPs properly if they haven’t been trained, leading to inconsistencies and errors.

    Incorporate SOP training into onboarding and ongoing education:

    • Create Learning Pathways: Develop custom learning pathways through existing knowledge and SOPs to enable easy training and prioritize the most important elements.
    • Track Progress and Understanding: Add questions or tests on essential information to reinforce and confirm understanding.
    • Implement Confirmation Steps: For critical SOPs, ensure there’s a way for team members to confirm, accept, or agree to the SOPs.

    Proper training ensures everyone is on the same page and maximizes the effectiveness of your SOPs.


    Creating effective SOPs is essential for maintaining consistency and efficiency in your business operations. By avoiding these common mistakes—overcomplicating SOPs, neglecting feedback, lack of accessibility, not keeping SOPs updated, and failing to train on SOPs—you can develop SOPs that truly benefit your organization. Start creating or improving your SOPs today with the help of Waybook, and ensure your business runs smoothly and efficiently.

    Ready to streamline your SOPs and boost your business efficiency? Try Waybook today and transform the way you manage your processes. For more insights, join our upcoming webinar on effective SOP creation!