In the bustling world of modern construction, where projects are complex and timelines are tight, the role of documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is often met with skepticism. This post aims to shed light on the prevalent misconceptions that small and mid-sized construction companies have about documenting their core operational systems.

Misconception 1: “We’re Too Small for SOPs”

Truth: The belief that standard operating procedures are only for large corporations couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, smaller companies can benefit even more from properly defined systems. In smaller companies, everyone must wear multiple hats, often filling in for co-workers at a moment’s notice. SOPs provide a vital roadmap for employees in those moments, ensuring every task on every project is executed with standardized precision. SOPs also scale alongside your company, serving as valuable training material for new hires and promoted employees. Contractors with SOPs feel confident to hire and expand knowing that the ensuing onboarding process is taken care of.

Misconception 2: “Our Crew Knows What to Do”

Truth: Relying on the prowess of your skilled crews might seem logical, but the reality is, this sort of thinking is short-sighted and overlooks the true power of documented procedures. SOPs codify best practices, transferring knowledge beyond the individual level and storing it within your company. Furthermore, as the number of construction workers continues to decline nation-wide, there will be fewer skilled installers to hire. It is crucial for your company to capture the expertise of the current generation of craftsmen to ensure the seamless transfer of knowledge to the next. And even in the short term, process documentation raises the bar for your entire team by minimizing rework and enhancing the overall efficiency of your crews.

Misconception 3: “Documentation is a Time Sink”

Truth: The notion that documenting SOPs consumes valuable time is an all-to-common misconception. Let me ask you a question: Between office staff and installers, how many new employees are you planning on hiring this year? 5? 10? 20? Each new employee you hire will work 2,000 hours for you this year. If training with SOPs can get them up to speed faster and improve their usefulness by even 5%, then documenting your construction company’s standard operating procedures will save you 100 hours — per employee! While documentation does require an upfront investment, the process can often take place alongside completing the actual task. And, the ultimate time saved year over year will only compound. Think of it as moderate short-term effort that yields long-term efficiency gains.

Misconception 4: “We Can’t Afford It”

Truth: The truth is, you can’t afford not too! Some companies view documenting SOPs as an added expense. In reality, it’s a prudent investment in efficiency and one of the highest-leverage activities a company can perform. SOPs reduce operational costs by minimizing accidents, rework, and idle time while optimizing processes for efficiency. In construction, where every project carries enormous risk and liability, SOPs act as a safeguard against potential legal and compliance issues.

Misconception 5: “We Hire Based on Experience”

Truth: Relying solely on experienced hires significantly limits your pool of available candidates and neglects the potential of structured onboarding. No two construction companies operate the exact same way. So, even if you are hiring from within your industry, it is unlikely that new hires will know how to operate within your company’s specific system from Day 1. Well-documented SOPs, however, streamline the training process, ensuring new team members quickly adapt to your company’s specific practices. Moreover, documenting a robust set of standardized procedures allows you to hire for things like potential, intellect and cultural fit, rather than solely hiring based on industry experience (which is hard to find). Going forward, as the aforementioned labor shortage grows, it will become even more crucial for construction companies to improve their ability to recruit from outside the industry.

Misconception 6: “We’ll Figure It Out Onsite”

Truth: While onsite learning is crucial, leaving everything to be figured out in the field is a risky approach. To maintain top efficiency, you want your best installers working within a well-defined plan of action. Besides, standing around and “figuring it out” is an absolute waste of everyone’s time and company money. Eventually, new and current employees will come to learn that wasting time is ok within your company’s culture. That’s a sure-fire way to destroy your project’s profitability. SOPs, on the other hand, provide an immediate and solid framework for your team. They serve as a reference guide for each new skill an employee learns, ensuring tasks are executed uniformly and efficiently. High-achieving employees will appreciate the detailed instruction and clearly defined expectations. Low-achieving employees will dislike such high standards and will find a different company’s time to waste!


As you can see, misconceptions about documentation and standard operating procedures can hinder a construction company’s profitability and growth. By dispelling these myths and embracing the truths, small and mid-sized construction companies can truly revolutionize their operations and position themselves for future success. SOPs offer a structured path to consistency, efficiency, and scalability, ultimately driving profitability in an ultra-competitive landscape. Remember, the investment in well-documented procedures today paves the way for a more streamlined and prosperous tomorrow.

Are you finished making excuses and ready to get started? Take the first step towards systemizing your business and documenting your construction company’s standard operating procedures by signing up for Subtrak today!

Common Misconceptions of Documenting Standard Operating Procedures in Construction was originally published in Modern Contracting on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.