The Definitive Guide to Documenting Standard Operating Procedures with Video

Video: The Best Approach to Documenting Standard Operating Procedures

What is the meaning of Standard Operating Procedure?

Documenting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) outlines the necessary steps to complete a specific task and is typically an ongoing practice in most businesses, ensuring that employees have the guidelines required to do their jobs. It is critical for creating a more consistent business, yet many managers never seem to get around to creating them. And even if they did, their employees rarely end up following them. Why is this?

The typical starting point for documenting Standard Operating Procedures is opening a Word document and watching the cursor flash on a blank page or maybe grabbing a pen and paper to start mapping out the process. That usually ends quickly because most managers don’t know where to begin. They often realize that it’s too complicated and keep the knowledge in their heads rather than sitting down to write out a lengthy playbook or instruction manual. If the manager was able to create a usable document, it is often stored in a Google Drive or sent in an email to their employees—with no way to ensure they have accessed the files, much less read through them all. Sadly, most employees put it off until later, skim through the documents, or never bother to read it at all. At best, your employees waste hours reading through out-of-context Standard Operating Procedures with little chance of retaining that information.

Software for documenting Standard Operating Procedures provides a solution to some of these problems, such as reducing the time it takes to assemble instructions into a set of processes, like written manuals or playbooks. Software also helps to centralize Standard Operating Procedure documentation and makes sharing that information easier by ensuring a single access point rather than disorganized folders. There are many software solutions aimed at facilitating Standard Operating Procedure documentation that enable you to create digital handbooks, checklists, playbooks, manuals, workflows, approvals…and the list goes on. They may also offer solutions ensuring employee compliance by tracking access to files and even progress through a document. However, the vast majority of companies don’t use these solutions, because they are overwhelming to deploy and are too complicated for the staff to use. It’s not uncommon for managers to participate in a free trial, become frustrated, and give up.

Desperate for a solution, many turn to video in an attempt to document their Standard Operating Procedures. Video is faster to create since a manager simply records themselves performing a process, and the employee can then learn by watching and performing the task alongside the video. While the delivery is the right choice, video solutions themselves are limited. Once a video is created and shared with employees, that’s where things often end. Unable to track progress, edit and update videos, or establish a set of documented Standard Operating Procedures, managers quickly become dissatisfied with the experience, and the employees gain little from the experience beyond a list of videos they may never watch.

Thankfully, there is a better way, one that combines the easy-to-use nature of video with the ability to document Standard Operating Procedures and train staff when you need to, in a way they want to learn. That way is with Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software.

Video Is Everywhere—and Increasing

With the proliferation of video—YouTube, social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, and video calling platforms such as WhatsApp and Zoom—it’s no surprise that video consumption is increasing. Online video consumption is on the rise globally, with reports predicting that the average person will watch 100 minutes per day in 2021.

With the number of remote employees increasing by 44% over the last five years, and 91% in the last ten, video is becoming increasingly more important in the workplace. Video platforms that connect employees and help them engage with new and prospective clients also experienced high levels of growth in recent years. According to Aternity, Microsoft Teams grew in popularity by 894% from March to June 2020. They also added 95 million users in 2020, and Zoom experienced a 667% boost in popularity during the same time period as well.

This tells us that video consumption in the workplace will only continue to increase. Does it seem like a good idea to send your new hire that 100-page onboarding document? Or would it be a better idea to create a series of two- to three-minute videos that are more engaging and easier to watch? Why would businesses still opt to create manual playbooks and instruction manuals if most employees aren’t going to bother to read them? The answer is likely a mix of continuing to do things the same way combined with a lack of awareness of better options.

The advantages of using video for documenting Standard Operating Procedures are easy to see. Video is quick and easy to create but just as quick and easy to consume, share, tag, comment—and the list goes on. Video provides a quicker, more efficient way of documenting Standard Operating Procedures while providing your staff with on-demand training in a format that better meets their needs.

The following table compares documenting Standard Operating Procedures with and without video.

Documenting Standard Operating Procedures with video Why is it better? Documenting Standard Operating Procedures without video Why is it difficult?
Easily capture videos and document Standard Operating Procedures in minutes, not days or weeks. Documenting Standard Operating Procedures with video can be done 3x faster compared to creating written training materials. Standard Operating Procedures are time-consuming to create, and templates end up taking longer to modify. 69% of employees say they would rather learn a new skill from video than from a written document.
Easily share videos with team members through notifications when a new video is released. Push notifications boost employee engagement by 88% and are usually read within the first three minutes of being received. You have to upload files and send links to staff via email, which can often be lost, forgotten about, or ignored altogether. 61% of respondents ignore emails at work, with 34% ignoring emails from HR specifically.
All videos are stored in a central library that is accessible on demand from anywhere. 87% of employees believe it is important to have access to training information anytime and anywhere to do their jobs successfully. It’s difficult to manage and keep track of documents stored in online shared drives, company portals, and static emails. Only 13% of employees use their company’s intranet daily, with 31% never using it at all.
In-context training guides staff through the learning process within the software. 82% of employees find on-the-job training to be the most effective learning method. Training takes too long to complete, and businesses must rely on the employees’ word that they read the material. 58% of employees would be more likely to use their company’s online learning tools if the content was in multiple shorter lessons.
Track progress with percent completed, and see how many times a video was viewed or shared. Online course completion rates can be as low as 4%, demonstrating the need to track progress. Can’t track training progress to ensure employee adoption and gain compliance. Only 35% of businesses evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs, with one of the key reasons being that they don’t have the right data collection tools.

Train Them How They Already Learn

In addition, the workforce as a whole is getting younger. Millennials will make up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce by 2030, with significant growth expected for the Generation Z workforce as well. Aside from watching videos in their spare time, millennials are increasingly using videos to learn how to perform tasks. According to a Google survey, 70% of millennials stated they learned how to do something new by watching YouTube. This statistic demonstrates the desire the younger generation has to learn through video, as well as their facility with it.

However, millennials have some of the lowest levels of engagement in the workplace compared to other generations. According to Gallup, 55% of millennials are not engaged at work, which places greater responsibility on businesses to provide more compelling reasons for them to be more involved. One of the ways businesses can achieve this is by providing new and improved ways of training that coincide with the way employees want to learn and use the technology they are already using.

Keep It Simple and Short

While video is the preferred way to learn for employees today, they also prefer those videos to be short, delivering information in bite-sized chunks. This is called microlearning. Microlearning content is a quick and easily consumable format, available on-demand at the viewers’ convenience. It is ideal for businesses looking to document their Standard Operating Procedures quickly while teaching employees how to perform tasks correctly.

Studies have shown that learning in stretches of three to seven minutes matches most people’s attention span and memory capacity. In addition, providing employees with shorter training videos that focus on the how-to when explaining the steps needed to perform a task has been proven to increase engagement by 50%.

Videos training on specific processes can be created and combined into groups to build a Standard Operating Procedure that the assigned employee must complete. In doing so, the videos can remain short and to the point while creating a complete set of Standard Operating Procedures designed to encourage effective learning. By replacing text-based instructions and playbooks with microlearning videos, businesses will be more inclined to document their Standard Operating Procedures, while employees will be more likely to watch them.

Tangible Benefits of Training with Video

In addition to the fact that employees want to learn through video, there are also tangible benefits for businesses when it comes to documenting Standard Operating Procedures and training staff with video.

Increased retention

There is nothing worse than spending time creating training materials and teaching your staff only to find out that the employees hardly retained any of the information provided. However, with current training methods, this is not uncommon. Just seven days after a training session has ended, the average employee will have forgotten 65% of the material covered, which increases to 90% six months later. Using video to document Standard Operating Procedures and teach staff how to perform a task will drastically increase retention rates. Viewers remember 95% of a video’s message on average, compared to just 10% when reading text, demonstrating just how effective and memorable video is as a training method.

A consistent experience

When sending playbooks and instruction manuals to staff or conducting live training sessions, either online or in-person, the reality is that the experience will be different for each person. From staff with different learning preferences and general distractions to simply choosing a time that doesn’t work best for the employee, the results will vary. The staff member assigned to perform the training may forget to teach something important, miss a topic entirely, or provide material that is too long and difficult to learn. Video can capture all pertinent information logically, in a step-by-step format that will guide the employees through the Standard Operating Procedure. The same video will be provided to all team members, which will be available on-demand so the staff can learn when it suits them best.


While staff can attend training sessions or acknowledge they read through assigned playbooks and instruction manuals, the truth of the matter is that as a manager, you won’t truly know whether they consumed the information. Tests and quizzes help, but they are often very generalized and don’t usually prove that the staff understood the material. With a certain approach to video, analytics and metrics are available immediately after sharing the link with team members. This aspect is essential because insights into how far along they have progressed through the training or how active they are by providing feedback and comments help demonstrate their overall engagement.

Quick and easy to create

The documentation process for playbooks, manuals, and checklists can be very time-consuming, mainly due to mapping out the Standard Operating Procedure. Most businesses take the approach of thinking through the SOP they want to develop, establishing steps or milestones, and then putting the Standard Operating Procedure together. While this will eventually yield a Standard Operating Procedure to train staff, it often takes so much time that managers never actually get around to creating them. Whereas playbooks may take days, weeks, or even months to create, video can be captured and shared in minutes.

Break down complicated processes

Think about how long it would take to explain to someone how to create an email campaign in a written document. There would likely be many steps, and a text document would require screenshots and explainers, links to other helpful documents, checklists, and general information on navigating through the software. Text-based documents also require constant switching back and forth if the trainee is trying to follow along, creating a more challenging experience. With video, the person explaining how to complete the task would start recording themselves going through the process directly within the software itself while providing auditory instructions to help guide the viewer along. The viewer can follow along in the software and replicate the process as they go through the training. The video provides all of the steps needed to complete the task in sequential order, which is easy to follow.

Selecting the Right Solution to Document Standard Operating Procedures

With so many options available today, selecting the right software to document Standard Operating Procedures and train staff can be challenging to say the least. There are four main types of solutions for documenting SOPs:

Documents, playbooks, and manuals

This was the original method of documenting Standard Operating Procedures for getting things done in a business. However, as technology has continued to evolve along with learning preferences, documenting Standard Operating Procedures and training staff this way has quickly become outdated. There are a few key reasons this has occurred.

The first reason is time. Managers don’t have the time to sit down and write these lengthy documents, which usually take weeks to put together, especially when there are faster ways of creating the same documents.

The second is that employees don’t want to read them. As we mentioned, employees’ learning preferences have shifted and continue to shift to video. It’s no surprise that engagement is decreasing for this type of long, boring, written training material.

The third reason is the inability to update these documents effectively. Playbooks and instruction manuals are often used for years before anyone attempts to update them, which leads to inaccurate and inconsistent information and renders the documents useless relatively quickly.

Text-based process documentation software

There is a wide variety of software that offers documentation capabilities for processes, procedures, and tasks. While many of these solutions do help provide efficiency gains, improve consistency, and increase engagement, the fact of the matter is that they are still primarily using a format that is on a downward trend: text.

With text-based instructions, managers must still find the time to write those lengthy playbooks and guides. Many platforms offer templates to help speed up the creation process, but the generic nature of templates often doesn’t work for businesses with a unique set of processes.

On the surface, templates seem like a great idea. They are marketed as a way to speed up Standard Operating Procedure creation with a set of steps or checklists that need to be tailored to your business. While that sounds easy enough, the reality is that templates often don’t work and can end up causing more headaches rather than helping you create and document your SOPs.

The main reason for this is that each business is different. Sure, there might be some similarities between businesses that operate in the same industry, but even those companies are likely to do things differently. That’s why your customers come to you—because you are different from your competitors. So how can your Standard Operating Procedures be the same? Each SOP is unique to your business and designed to serve your particular customer base. A template can’t easily and accurately reflect the unique procedures in your business or teach your staff how to do things the right way.

Some businesses end up following the template rather than thinking about how they do things in their own business and taking the time to adapt the template to those unique methods. This could even lead to the template changing the SOP you’re trying to document, making it more in line with your competitors’ approaches. Templates can also lead to an inaccurate and inconsistent process that is difficult to follow, essentially defeating the purpose of using a template in the first place. The result tends to be the same as simply writing out a playbook as your managers will spend a lot more time modifying the templates to fit the business’s unique processes or will just give up entirely.

The idea that templates result in faster Standard Operating Procedure documentation is a myth. Templates are presented as an easy solution to documenting SOPs, and while they may work for a small number of businesses, they don’t work for most. Each business has its own way of doing things, and that is often best explained by showing staff how to do things the right way rather than relying on a template that doesn’t reflect the uniqueness of your business. Instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, businesses should take the time to think through their Standard Operating Procedures and leverage a more effective approach, such as video, to document their SOPs.

Video capture software

With so many solutions on the market, capturing video can be done from just about anywhere. Whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet, or webcam, recording video today is quick and easy to do. There is also a wide variety of software and applications designed to store video for sharing purposes, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Others offer screen recording functionality, providing the ability to go through how to perform a task.

While this is how Standard Operating Procedure documentation occurs with video, a few key aspects are missing. For one, there is no way to develop a specific set of Standard Operating Procedures; instead, it ends up being singular videos shared by email. Additionally, once the video is shared, there is no way to track progress, which is crucial for analyzing employee engagement. Without seeing who has watched the video, how many times it has been watched, and how far they have progressed, it is difficult to ensure compliance.

Combining Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software with Video

Some text documentation platforms have integrated with third-party solutions to add missing functionality, such as video. While capturing video in another platform and uploading it, or even recording within the software, is helpful, the information is still not contained within a single system. With information stored in numerous locations, it is susceptible to being lost, and your business is at the mercy of multiple platforms.

While there are added benefits of using multiple solutions for documenting Standard Operating Procedures, such as the expertise of that software vendor, their drawbacks tend to outweigh these advantages. Let’s look at some of the reasons multiple software platforms for Standard Operating Procedure documentation and training staff can end up being more difficult to use.


The cost of purchasing multiple software solutions can quickly add up. While you might be using online text-based software for documenting Standard Operating Procedures, you will likely need to purchase additional software to incorporate video or integrate with other solutions. There is also the cost of creating multiple users in each software, which can quickly become expensive. Additionally, by using a single online learning tool, businesses can reduce training development costs by 50%.

Integration issues

Anytime businesses are using multiple software solutions to achieve a common goal, they are bound to run into issues. For example, let’s say a business decides to incorporate video into its Standard Operating Procedure creation. While there may be an option to upload a video directly into the SOP, the video itself is typically captured and stored using a third-party solution. Videos must remain organized without any broken links or missing files to ensure up-to-date Standard Operating Procedures.


With multiple solutions for documenting Standard Operating Procedures, staff must learn how to use each software app individually, which is time-consuming and can lead to inconsistent results. Not only is this a burden on the managers who need to train their staff on how to use multiple apps, but it also creates a different training experience for each team member. With 40% of employees likely to leave their job within a year if they receive inadequate training, businesses should be training their staff with a single solution that allows them to learn the way they prefer.

The Solution: Video Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Software

Video Standard Operating Procedure Software is designed to capture how things are done in your business using video, share them with team members, and track employee adoption to ensure compliance. By recording videos on how to perform a specific process instead of writing it down, businesses can provide their staff with learning materials that are quick and easy to consume. With all videos stored in a central library, staff can reference the videos as often as needed, which effectively eliminates managers needing to provide repeated training sessions.

All steps are recorded sequentially, so the employee only needs to click the link sent to them and start learning. Gone are the days of sifting through folders online, trying to find emails with various documents, or searching your desk for training materials. Instead, with a single Video Standard Operating Procedure Software, videos can be made quickly and watched even quicker—all while learning how to do things the right way.

Video Standard Operating Procedure Software combines the ability to record video with instant documentation and analytics—all within the same software. This software provides the ability to capture processes in quick, bite-sized videos, share them with team members, and track your trainees’ progress.

The Benefits of Video Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Software

On average, video-based training can be created three times faster than traditional methods of developing training materials. When it’s already a challenge to sit down and document your SOPs, Video Standard Operating Procedure Software can really improve the odds of getting them done. Additionally, by creating them in a format your employees will enjoy consuming, you have the added benefit of increased engagement and adoption.

The second key feature of Video Standard Operating Procedure Software is the ability to learn in context. Once a video is shared, the staff can learn how to perform a task while operating directly within the software application. This simplifies the learning process and reduces trainee frustration as well as the time needed to train, but the main benefit of in-context learning is learning on the job and being able to follow along in real-time, which 82% of employees find to be the most effective training method. When you combine the fact that staff already prefer to learn by watching videos with the ability to learn in context, it’s easy to see why this learning method has grown in popularity. Instructions will appear as the employee is learning how to perform the task, all while using the software itself, which provides a more thorough training experience.

The third feature of Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software is the ability to track progress once a video has been shared with staff. With traditional forms of documenting Standard Operating Procedures, the tracking capabilities usually end after sharing the SOP with team members. Some online solutions offer progress milestones; however, there is still no real way to know whether they actually absorbed the information or just checked a box. Instead, businesses must rely on the employee’s word that they completed the training. With Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software, managers have access to detailed analytics and progress tracking. This information includes how many times their staff watched or shared a video and what percentage of the videos they went through. With this information available in real-time, businesses can determine which employees actually completed the training, providing valuable insights into employee adoption.

Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Is Changing

With the explosion of video creation and consumption, it’s no wonder traditional training methods are quickly becoming outdated. From written playbooks to instruction manuals and checklists, many businesses find it harder to create these documents and even harder to gain compliance from existing staff while struggling to successfully onboard new employees.

Expecting staff to learn how to perform a task in a way they don’t want to is like mixing oil and water; it just doesn’t work. Employees today are 75% more likely to learn by watching a video than by reading written training materials. Additionally, 69% stated they would rather learn a new skill from video. Yet businesses are still providing staff with conventional training instead of adapting and innovating to meet the needs of the modern employee.

The same goes for Standard Operating Procedure documentation. Business managers are already stretched thin for time, so what’s the likelihood they will have time to sit down and document their Standard Operating Procedures? Chances are they won’t, which is why many often struggle to do so. For the ones that do document their Standard Operating Procedures, it’s usually in a format that is difficult to read and even harder to follow. That is why businesses today find themselves looking for better, faster, and easier ways to document their Standard Operating Procedures —and they are doing just that by using Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software.


The purpose of this guide was to demonstrate three main points:

  • Employees today prefer to learn by watching videos.
  • Video is the quickest and most effective way to document Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software helps create a more consistent and valuable business.


Here are the key benefits of using Video Standard Operating Procedure Documentation Software:

  • Video is the simplest and fastest way to document Standard Operating Procedures and train staff.
  • Sharing videos is easy with recipient confirmation and automated notifications for staff.
  • In-context training is the preferred way to learn and increases knowledge retention.
  • The ability to track progress greatly increases employee engagement and adoption.


We at VidGuide believe that video is the best way to document Standard Operating Procedures and show your staff how to perform tasks the right way. Our easy-to-use, video-first software was designed to simplify the documentation process while creating a more engaging way for employees to learn. Backed by the Built to Sell methodology and creators of the Value Builder System, we know Standard Operating Procedure documentation. We hope this information was valuable and will help your business during the software selection process.

Ready to get started? Try VidGuide today and see the difference creating Standard Operating Procedures with video can have on your business.