Every able manager knows this. It is one thing to have a concept, and another to write it as workable goals for employees to do. Yes, how do you communicate projects from the senior management to the front line staff? Miscommunication can lead to fatal accidents.
In contrast, clear work instructions remove human error. In turn, they ensure you optimize the company’s resources. Then, what rules do you use to come up with clear, realistic standard operating procedures for effective and efficient doing? Here is a quick guide:
What are Standard Operating Procedures?
A standard SOP is a step by step guide that presents rather complicated work routines into easy to do processes. That is, these instructions use the layman’s language to communicate the operations. In turn, they make it easier for all employees to follow the set policies. That way, management can achieve quality, efficient and uniform productivity levels. Then, what forms the ideal work instructions?
Purpose of Work Instructions
Work instructions must address three main aspects. First, what are the duties that you want to get done using the working instructions? These goals will determine the structure of the working instructions. Second, who is supposed to execute these instructions?
This attribute will set the tone for the guidelines. Third, what are your strategies for achieving the set tasks? These strategies will communicate the tasks to all parties concerned.
A valid work instructions paper should use words and phrases that the final user can understand. This way, you know there is minimal room for confusion or misunderstandings.
Short and Concise
Short and clear sentences are more comfortable to memorize. Then, break down the instructions into quick steps that are easy to follow. Concise work instructions ease consistent work.
When work instructions are in a descriptive narrative, they are easy to memorize. Hence, the employees will master the tasks faster.
Finally, ensure that your work instructions are in line with the current company’s processes. For example, you do not want to come up with intricate steps that rely on an outdated system.
You can create work instructions using three main formats as follows:
1. The Checklist Approach
A checklist is a candid way of capturing the three main aspects of work instructions. For it comprises a series of steps that one can follow to perform a particular task. Further, you can create a simple checklist or a multi-step checklist.
In contrast, a multi-step list has further steps within one specific action. These extra steps ensure you do not leave any stage to guesswork or human error. Still, a multi-step checklist has more than two levels; it is best to use a flow chart instead.
2. Using Flow Charts
Flow charts are an excellent way of visualizing the company’s work instructions. More so, when you want to have the right trained staff to handle a particular task. It presents the workflow decisions that lead from one logical step to the other.
Hence, the steps are quite easy to follow, making an elaborate multi-step checklist easy to do. For example, if you are a car repair company, you can set up a flow chart to provide the steps in handling a client’s request. That way, one decision will lead towards getting the most skilled person to handle the job.
3. A hybrid Approach
Now, a checklist is easy to follow. But, it is not the best option for firm decision making. Plus, a flow chart is excellent in capturing decision making in the SOPs. Still, it takes longer to write one and again falls short on providing intricate details.
Then, you can opt for the hybrid approach and merge the benefits of the first two approaches. A hybrid approach involves using both a checklist and a flowchart system. In turn, it comes up with a custom SOP that delivers on its purpose. You may also include images for clarity.
Then, what work instructions format is best suited for your company’s SOPs? As you come up with the final draft, take time to test and foolproof it before rolling it out to the users. Then, use feedback from your trials to perfect your work instructions. This way, you know you have work instructions that are reliable and effective. Lastly, revise your work instructions to reflect any changes in the company goals or procedures.