What you should consider when creating a work instruction

Valentin Ostarhild

Business Development

19.11.2018 | 4 min

The importance of high-quality work instructions is constantly increasing. In times of a shortage of skilled workers, small batch sizes and varied productions, precise work instructions are the gold of the 21st century. Find out here how to create a professional work instruction and what you have to pay attention to.

What is a work instruction?

Work instructions describe how to perform an activity, either in text or using images and pictograms. For new employees, the work instruction is a concrete guide that guides them step-by-step through the task at hand. For experienced employees, it serves primarily as a reference book, as they are already familiar with the process flow. Especially in the shopfloor of assemblies, maintenance of machines or testing of end products, the work instruction is of great importance in order to be able to realize the added value of the company efficiently. But also in other areas of the company, e.g. in administration, work instructions serve as a valuable store of knowledge and the basis for smooth processes.

Why is it becoming increasingly important to phrase good work instructions?

Customer-specific products are booming, so that companies must also offer their goods in batch size 1. As a result, the variation and combination of different tasks to be performed at a workplace and by an employee are also increasing sharply. An employee has to master an almost infinite number of processes. In order not to be overtaxed and not to forget anything during the process execution, he must be able to access the work instructions simply and quickly. At the same time, due to the shortage of skilled workers, companies face the challenge of training unskilled workers very quickly.

How do I create a work instruction in the correct way?

The work instruction should be prepared by a qualified and experienced employee who is directly involved in the respective process (e.g. from work preparation). It is also advisable to consult the quality assurance and quality management departments. In addition to technical completeness and correctness, company-wide standards regarding formatting and the use of images and texts should also be observed. Further, the work instructions should be flexible and easy to adapt to future changes. At the end of the creation process, there is a defined release and acceptance process according to the four- or six-eyes principle.

What information must be included in a work instruction?

A professional work instruction is clearly structured and comprehensible. The following questions should be answered:

What do I have to do?
A precise job description explains what needs to be done.

How do I do it?
Exact execution is described.

When and in what order should I do it?
The time schedule is presented step by step.

What do I have to do it with?
The tools for correct implementation are listed and their use is explained if necessary.

What do I have to consider?
Complete safety instructions are the be-all and end-all when it comes to preventing risks and avoiding dangers.

What is the validity of the work instructions?
The work area and user group of the work instruction are defined here.

Who is my contact person?
In the event of queries or requests for changes, the user must be able to see who is responsible for the work instructions.

What should I pay attention to when choosing the right software for creating work instructions?

– quick initial creation of a work instruction
– easy and flexible change options
– integration and recording of the user’s feedback
– conformity with existing standards

In addition to the specialized creation of work instructions, it is important that the software makes available a component for the provision and use of the created work instructions so that the employee has easy and quick access. This makes scrolling through paper instructions a thing of the past.

Conclusion:

Modern work instructions are the central element for creating value and achieving corporate goals, because they store and manage valuable expertise and provide it in the right place at the right time. In addition, a work instruction must answer all questions relating to a process and therefore requires a carefully considered structure. With the help of special software, the digital creation and management of work instructions is now just a piece of cake.

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