Standard operating procedure
A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions created by a business to help workers carry out routine operations. Their purpose is to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply to industry regulations.
The U.S. military sometimes uses the term standing – rather than standard – operating procedure, because a military SOP refers to a unit's unique procedures, which are not necessarily standard to another unit. "Standard" could imply that there is one (standard) procedure to be used across all units.
Clinical research and practice
In clinical research, the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) defines SOPs as "detailed, written instructions to achieve uniformity of the performance of a specific function". SOPs get usually applied in pharmaceutical processing and for related clinical studies. There the focus is always set on repeated application of unchanged processes and procedures and its documentation, hence supporting the segregation of origins, causes and effects. Further application is with triage, when limited resources get used according to an assessment on ranking, urgence and staffing possibilities. Study director is mainly responsible for SOPs. The Quality Assurance Unit are individuals who are responsible for monitoring whether the study report and tests are meeting the SOP. SOPs can also provide employees with a reference to common business practices, activities, or tasks. New employees use an SOP to answer questions without having to interrupt supervisors to ask how an operation is performed. The international quality standard ISO 9001 essentially requires the determination of processes (documented as standard operating procedures) used in any manufacturing process that could affect the quality of the product.
Health and safety
Procedures are extensively employed to assist with working safely. They are sometimes called safe work methods statements (SWMS). They are usually preceded by various methods of analyzing tasks or jobs to be performed in a workplace, including an approach called job safety analysis, in which hazards are identified and their control methods described. Procedures must be suited to the literacy levels of the user, and as part of this, the readability of procedures is important.
- Code of conduct
- Operational research
- Quality control
- Rules of engagement
- Run-book automation
- "McMurdo Station Medical Standard Operating Procedures as of 2006/06" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-02.
- Guidance on the Documentation Requirements of ISO 9001:2008 Archived October 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Taylor, G.A. (2012) Readability of OHS documents - A comparison of surface characteristics of OHS text between some languages, Safety Science, 50(7), 1627-1635.