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SOPs -- Why Not Just the Steps?

Business FlowchartThis question comes up a lot in Zavanta Coaching sessions. To save time and get to the point,  why not just list the steps for how to do a task?  Clearly, the action steps are one of the biggest parts of SOPs. But, step by steps  are not the only information that makes for good SOPs. If you adopt a “just the steps” approach you will be missing a lot of important information.

Here’s what’s wrong with a “Just the Steps” approach:
  1. There is no context. A title and a list of steps provide no information to your end user, which gives it little value as a training tool. There is also no connection between one set of steps and another, so it is hard to see the relationships and the bigger picture.
  2. There is no sense of who does something. This is important both in terms of training people for a specific job, but also helpful for employees in other roles that may have questions.
  3. There is no list of materials needed to complete the task. In some cases, the steps are easy to remember, its all the other information that you need to have in place or on hand that can be harder to remember.
One of the key features of Zavanta software is that is presents information back to end users in the order they need to see it in order to successfully complete the task and hand. While writing the steps only may save time on the front end, thoroughly documented SOPs are easier to read and easier to follow which creates a more actionable, scalable system.