How to Use the SOP Template
While the term Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Standard Work Instruction (SWI) are often used by companies interchangeably, they do serve different purposes.
SOPs and SWIs are defined by ISO 9001, so organizations using an ISO-certified quality management system must abide by these distinctions.
An Standard Operating Proceedure is a higher-level document that enforces the process of completing tasks or activities, outlining who does what under certain circumstances. It focuses on accountability in cross-departmental interactions, quality assurance and expected outcomes without getting too detailed.
Meanwhile, an Standard Work Instruction is the lowest-level document and provides exact instructions on how a specific task should be done. It’s written for the operator. A procedure can be broken down into multiple work instructions as the process flows from one task or workstation to another.
Our template is a step-by-step standard work instruction using the What-How-Why methodology, which is ideal for straightforward processes with little to no deviation. It’s best used for setup and cleanup instructions, login sequences, and equipment operating instructions.
A standard work instruction is a written version of the “one best way” to perform a task. This is the benchmark you’ve identified, which forms the basis of your standard and is consistently taught to all workers. You don’t want multiple ways of doing the same task to muddy the waters.
In addition, SWIs have to be updated on a regular basis, or else they could lead to additional problems.