Submit an SOP for a free SOP Makeover →

Back to All Posts

Parsing SOPs: How To Simply Anything
Ryan Ogden Headshot

Written by Ryan Ogden

Ryan is the Founder of Momentum and he built it to help small to medium-sized companies systematize their operations to scale their business.

Parsing means separating, and we came up with this term after working with clients documenting their procedures. In an interview setting, the interviewee often gives so much information that you end up with a blob or paragraphs. Your job as the interviewer is to capture an excellent SOP, and part of that is to parse that into different types of content that are easy to understand and access so a team member can use the SOP to perform the procedure.

At Momentum, we have 10 different formats we use when we are parsing.

#1 – Step-by-Step Instructions
One of the most common ways to complete a procedure includes step-by-step instructions. This is a great option for simple procedures that don’t involve many steps. Still, many organizations stop here and try to make complicated procedures with multiple pieces of information or data fit into steps, and it doesn’t work.

#2 – Checklists
Sometimes a checklist will be confused with step-by-step instructions because you check off each step, but a checklist doesn’t require order, so you don’t have to do the first one first. A checklist should provide documentation and a control that a procedure was performed. For example, this might involve a team member signing off or submitting a checklist once the procedure is complete.

#3 – Tools, Examples, Templates, Bots
Use tools, examples, templates, and bots to integrate and automate parts of the process to simplify the procedure. Email is an excellent example because many times, emails can be automated in a process, and organizations still have team members sending customer emails. If you see an opportunity for automation or integration, document your automation candidates and submit them for business improvements.

#4 – Tips, Tricks, Advice, Do’s and Dont’s
These items are often mixed in the blob or paragraphs of information given during an interview. If an interviewee gives you tips when they talk about the procedure, make sure you treat them as tips and don’t mix them in with step-by-step instructions.

#5 – Process Flows
Process flows, when related to SOPs, are typically simple. You’ll ideally have three to five boxes or nodes on a process flow. You might have more complicated process flows if your organization is highly technical, or you might not need a process flow.

#6 – Videos, Screenshares, Demonstrations
These types of formats can be so powerful they can replace multiple documents by creating a video, screenshare, or demonstration.

#7 – Tables, Lists, Specifications
Tables, lists, and specifications are tools that should be used when multiple pieces of information and details. For example, a client harvested squash, and various types of squash needed to be harvested at different parts of the season. A specification or lookup table was used, so a new procedure didn’t have to be created for each squash variety. The farmer now uses a lookup table for quick, actionable reference. Creating a table will help you be more specific and detailed and could show gaps in the table that you’d address in your business procedures.

#8 – Interviews, Q&A, Fireside Chats
Other types of parsing include interviews, Q&A, or a fireside chat. An interviewer wants to document the procedure correctly, but sometimes, just talking to a team member about their job uncovers nuggets of information. Storytelling is powerful, and while these types of conversations help with supplemental information, interviewing, and Q&A is how you’ll get the information you need for the procedure.

#9 – Illustrations, Diagrams, Images
These pieces of content reinforce your SOPs. For example, when a team member has to perform a task using their hands, you could use an illustration to describe this step for the procedure or an image. For detailed procedures that involve skill development, a how-to video or images and illustrations could be used to show and describe tasks.

#10 – Signage, Posters, Job Aids
Lastly, job aids, signage, and posters could be created for team members to post for reference, and if it’s going to help them perform the procedure, then that would be a significant part of defining the SOP.

These 10 different parsing formats will help your SOPs be clear and more actionable, and they won’t collect dust on the shelf, but they’ll drive the right behaviors in your business.

Get Access to a Free Lesson

By checking out this blog post, you have access to a free lesson on this topic.

Register for our next SOP Workshop

Learn more about our next live online SOP Workshop