Best practice for naming your SOPs and business processes

Imagine you’ve put in the time and effort to actually create and transfer your company information and processes into one centralized hub, like Whale. But then no one accesses them because the names are abstract or obtuse? Naming your SOPs properly is key!
Naming your SOPs on Whale blog

Who cares about naming SOPs? 🤷‍♀️🤷🏿‍♂️

Well, you know how sometimes you meet someone and put their contact details in your phone? Then for the life of you can’t remember who they were a couple of weeks or months down the line?

Sometimes it helps to put their context as well as their surname in the information so make it easy to reference.

It’s a little like that with SOPs. Actually, it’s A LOT like that. 

Naming your SOPs succinctly is fundamental

The difference between you using your phone and your team using your SOPs is that it’s not only you who needs to be able to access the information. It’s for the whole team!

Imagine you’ve put in the time and effort to actually create and transfer your company information and processes into one centralized hub, like Whale. But then no one accesses them because the names are abstract or obtuse.

That’s no good ❌.

Steps to naming your Sops and your company processes

  1. Be specific!
  2. Categorize
  3. Tag

Naming your SOPs Hack #1 – Be Specific

Never start with something like ‘how to’ because you’ll end up with hundreds of documents titled ‘how to’ and it’ll take ages to find (even with Whale’s power tag suggestion).

“The most important word is first”

For this reason, you won’t want to start with “the, and” or “a”. We suggest you completely avoid generic words and special characters including !%#@!.

For example:

❌ Don’t call it: The hiring process for potential employees/candidates

✅ Call it: Candidate Sourcing

NB – you’ll notice how specific this is! It doesn’t refer to the whole hiring process but rather a very specific aspect. 

And as for emojis 😉, we love them BUT we tend to keep them for board level as opposed to being included in the actual name of the SOP.

Naming your SOPs on Whale blog

This brings us to hack #2 which is also part of the naming convention and that is how information is structured.

Naming your SOPs Hack #2 – Categorize and think like a human

Information architecture (Wikipedia) refers to the way information is structured, designed, and stored for usability. Basically, it’s the way we as humans access information.

Information Architechture Wikipedia

In the ‘olden days’ information was a bunch of papers that were filed in drawers with numerous shelves. This meant there was probably a whole drawer for ‘human resources’ or ‘marketing’. Then within that drawer, there were different sections like ‘hiring process’ and perhaps different SOPs like ‘sourcing candidates’ existed within that.

These days if you were to view this file digitally on a program like Google Drive, you’d see something like this: / humanresources /hiringprocess /candidatesourcing

It’s good because it’s named specifically but it still doesn’t mean your team can find it. Here’s why it’s important to think like a human.

As you can see we prefer to call ‘Human Resources’ our ‘People Hub’ because this reflects the inclusive culture we strive towards.

💡Top Tip

When you’re naming your SOPs and SOP structure, consider the culture and general terms you use in your organization.

Naming your SOPs example Whale blog

Naming your SOPs Hack #3 – Tag

Who uses your company SOPs and documentation?

This is an important question in consideration when naming your SOPs because standardized processes help improve company performance and unlock growth.

It’s in your best interests to help your organization access company information in the easiest way possible. Even better, have it ‘flow’ to them in the moment they need this.

This is why we built Whale with tag functionality. 

By adding relevant tags to your SOPs, the next time a hiring manager or one of your team members is looking for relevant information, they’ll be able to find it. 

In fact with the Chrome extension in Whale, the information, they need will come looking for them in the application in which they’re working!

Naming your SOPs Checklist

We suggest following this easy checklist for naming your SOPs.

✅ Is it specific?

✅ Is it structured and organized?

✅ Is it tagged and can your team find it?

✅ Does it work for your organization and team?

Want some ideas? Download our Cheetsheet for your collection of must-have SOPs.


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