Work instructions are a pre-requisite for efficiently and safely making products of high quality. They help to significantly reduce risks of incidents, human error, and poor practices by providing workers – whether experienced or new joiners – with ‘one best way’ to execute a task.

Man writing work instructions in line with best practices

Best practices to reach the perfect work instructions

Write clear and accurate documents

These are the two words you need to remember when it comes to improving efficiency, time, and reducing the possibility of errors. You’ll have to describe the operations that will be carried out through clear and precise visuals in order to eliminate any interpretations that the reader may have, who is thus truly guided in the accomplishment of his mission within his position. This also makes further clarify job-to-job linkages possible in all their different aspects: concerned posts, the expected time of passage at each post, the order of intervention for each post, linkage conditions, means of transfer from station to station.

Keep it simple

Simplicity and efficiency often run together in the industry world. In a nutshell, it implies to relieve the document of any superfluous information, of any data which, not only encumbers the support but risks, in addition, to cause trouble to the user by inducing him in the confusion and/or the error. It also needs a minimalist and uncluttered structure in the creation process including only the elements of instruction and the references that are necessary for the manufacturing/production/exploitation stage.

Going digital

Relying on supports that are both reliable, practical, and easy to update is vital for a company’s members. Here, the goal is to reduce or even eliminate errors and malfunctions, especially because of documents left in their old versions. We need to be clear about that: It’s undeniable that classical paper format can no longer satisfy this type of requirement and that digital media have been favored for several years, and this, for several reasons: centralization of information including easier access to it, and especially for mobile screens (tablets, smartphones …) and, mainly, for a security matter. Adopting paperless / dematerialization for the creation of the work instructions meets the same requirements and the same logic in work environments digitizing, which characterizes the 4.0 industry. You might want to look at REWO to see how you can do this.

Make WI part of the company’s quality system pillars

The QMS (Quality Management System) as defined by the ISO 9001 standard focuses on the development and maintenance of effective quality documentation. The work instructions are one of the essential components of quality documentation, which the standard mentioned above symbolizes in the form of a documentary pyramid at the top of which is the quality manual. This is why the work instructions become the pillars of an organization’s ability to achieve its qualitative objectives.

Look at it from the viewers perspective

When you create a work instruction, it seems obvious that it is necessary to think of the person that will consult them. It is only by putting yourself in the user’s shoes, but also by involving him in the development and taking into account his observations gathered in the field than you can write a document as close as possible to reality.

What practices to avoid with your work instructions

The way work instructions are written, distributed, and maintained is crucial to their usability. When creating work instructions, there are four ‘Don’ts’ you should avoid. Don’t create work instructions that are:

  1. lengthy and unclear.
  2. hard to access at the point of action.
  3. authored by a non-expert.
  4. difficult to keep up to date.