Developing and Implementing Standard Work Instructions

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

Continuing to develop standard work instructions for other processes.

After engaging with employees to develop standard work instructions for the work that is truly standardised (see my blog last week), focus next on the consistencies of processes across different functions. Are their consistent procedures across similar functions that can easily be documented? An example here might be the way contractors or managed or the purchasing process. Can you review and document the activities for functions or tasks that may NOT be completely the same but similar?

Once you determine the consistencies across different functions, review how different employees may complete the processes and determine the best practices of how each employee completes the given task and document in detail the procedure. Work towards understanding and documenting the “what’s the way we’re all going to do this”. Be especially conscious of not just the “what” of the procedure, but also the “how”. This taps into the knowledge of employees and is an important part of the procedure. Think about and document the expected time it takes to do the work to meet customer demand, the amount of resources required to keep the process running smoothly and the precise order of tasks that need to be undertaken.

In addition, allow opportunities as you work through documenting the processes to allow for employee feedback. Often, improvements in a work instruction, and hence a work practice, can often come from the most unlikely of sources.

Ensure that the procedure follows the simple rules of being:

  1. Clear  (understandable for every employee that does the task; use flowcharts, graphics, photos and video clips as much as you can)
  2. Accessible (available wherever the task must be done; consider those who don’t have access to technology here)
  3. Credible (employees trust the work instruction and it accurately reflects the way the work needs to be done)
  4. Consistent (the work instruction matches the skills set of employees)

Standardised work instructions provide consistency, predictability and quality of outcome. As with any continuous improvement or lean initiative, provide opportunities to refine and improve your standard work instructions by allowing a closed-loop feedback from those employees that are directly involved in the process. Standard work instructions can benefit your organisation through increased employee engagement, improved quality, increased efficiency, and reduction of safety incidents in the workplace.

Continuous Improvement is not about the things you do well – that’s work. Continuous Improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what Continuous Improvement is all about.