Improve Process Efficiency & Quality with Standard Work

Abhijeet Kumar
May 3, 2023
min read
September 19, 2023
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Standard Work is critical for process-oriented businesses. And here’s everything you need to know to create your very first Standard Work documentation.
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What happens when a thousand workers take care of their job according to their intuition and intellect? Mayhem! Chaos! Pandemonium!

Everyone will do things in their own sweet way. And these might not be the most efficient. Your products will have thousand different dimensions depending on who takes care of them.

That’s why we keep Standard Work documents. It’s critical for process-oriented businesses. Standard Work makes it easier to train your team and show the best ways to perform tasks. It standardizes processes to improve quality while increasing throughput.


And this article includes everything there’s for you to know to create your very first and practical Standard Work. You’ll learn about its benefits, best practices and steps to draft the document.

Shall we dive in? Let’s.

What is standard work?

Standard Work, as the name suggests, is a document process team uses to describe the optimal sequence of steps to complete a task. Standard Work Instructions (SWI) are designed to ensure that all processes are consistent, timely and repeatable.

Standard Work is a record of the current best practices for a process. It ensures that everyone is doing a particular task in the same way.

But these records aren’t set in stone. These work instructions can change with new tools, techniques and technologies.

So, you can consider Standard Work as a living document that’s continuously reviewed and improved. This methodology of continuous improvements has been popularised by Toyota.

Standard Work is a record of the current best practices for a process that can be continuously improved and adjusted as needed.

Benefits of Standard Work

Standard Work makes it easy to infuse Kaizen philosophy into processes. Kaizen is a concept that suggests making small continuous changes in all processes over time.

Here are the top benefits one can see with standardized work processes:

1) Improved efficiency

Standard Work streamlines processes, reducing the time it takes to complete tasks. It adds structure and predictability to the operations. Abhishek Shrivastava, a senior engineer in the valves manufacturing industry, cites a series of reasons for the same. He states:

“[With Standard Work], we know the time it takes for procurement, operations, quality check, packaging, etc. The pitch time is known. The mean time to failure increases, and the mean time to repair reduces.”

2) Consistent quality

Another benefit of standardizing processes is it helps maintain consistent product quality. It ensures everyone knows the effective procedures. Diana Stepanova, Operations Director of Monitask, says:

“Standard Work in a SaaS environment has brought […] tangible improvements in terms of speed, accuracy and cost savings. Beyond the traditional benefits, […] Standard Work has helped us to create digital ‘recipes’ that guide the process of creating new software products and services. It ensures consistency throughout the development cycle.”

3) Reduced errors

Standard Work also reduces errors and mistakes with standardization in tools and methods. It cuts down operational costs by reducing the need for rework. Ryan Mckenzie, Co-Founder & CMO of Tru Earth, says:

“The most significant benefit [of Standard Work] was a decrease in errors during the production process. […] We were able to streamline procedures, which made them more efficient, reducing wasted time and effort.”

Essential elements of standard work

Ideally, Standard Work documentation is written for each process separately. But it can vary depending on the tasks and their complexities. Some organizations keep it brief, while others make it comprehensive.

The following are the key elements of Standard Work documents:

1) General overview & purpose

The first essential element is the introduction to the task. It’s a brief section that provides some context about the process and its purpose. It also identifies the employees responsible for it.

2) Takt Time

The Takt Time section mentions the rate at which the task must be completed. It represents the cycle time available for the project and this task. And it sets the pace for the process.

3) Work in process (WIP)

WIP is the inventory or works in progress at any given time. It can either be an individual item or a set. Standard WIP can include unfinished products and parts, or other materials waiting to be processed or completed.

4) Standard work instructions (SWI)

Standard Work Instructions are the defined sequence of steps (and in the order) required to complete a process. The section may contain written instructions, illustrations and charts to communicate the standards clearly. SWI drives consistency and helps identify opportunities for improvement.

Create standard work with Scribe

An effective Standard Work is visual, clear and simple. It enables operators to understand the work instructions quickly and follow them according to the current best practices.


Following are the steps you can follow to create and implement standardized work processes:

1) Collect data on your operations

The first step to creating efficient process documentation is understanding how the operations run in the current setting. Observe different work responsibilities, the sequence of processes, and how those processes fit in the big picture. The goal is to collect as much data on takt time, cycle time and other crucial metrics as possible.

Check these work instruction Chrome extensions to help

2) Find the current best practices

Next, look at the operations (and their variations) one at a time and find the most efficient way to do it. Only one of the ways will be the most efficient, of course. Consider time efficiency, resource efficiency as well as safety while zeroing down.

3) Document Standard Work

Now, prepare the Standard Work document based on the most practical and efficient work sequence. Use Scribe to create visual and comprehensive documentation. It allows you to use text, images and videos to illustrate all guiding instructions. You can even add references to training guides, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and One Point Lessons (OPLs).

Duplicate this Standard Work template made with Scribe Pages and create your own.

4) Train the workforce

Once the document is ready, it’s time to train everyone to adopt these best practices. Training ensures that everyone knows what to do and what to expect from the processes. Even existing employees must understand and follow the new procedures.

5) Monitor and improve

The work isn’t over after the implementation of Standard Work. It’s essential to understand that these instructions aren’t perfect or final. You must strive for continuous improvement. Look for ways to improve and make the processes more efficient.

Here are a few helpful tips to improve your documentation productivity

Why Use Scribe for Your Team

Scribe is a documentation tool and screenshot extension for teams to implement Standard Work with ease. With its shared workspace, everyone can collaborate and outline the most efficient work sequence. It simplifies the entire process of drafting a Standard Work document.

With Scribe, you can easily prepare visual work instructions and training materials. It allows for quick editing, updating and sharing of documents with the workforce.


Whether you need to draft procurement SOPs, maintenance OPLs or project agreements, Scribe comes in handy. Its visual documentation capabilities can help streamline processes and achieve your goals effectively. Scribe eliminates the need for repeated documentation.

Best practices for creating standard work

Here are the Standard Work best practices to ensure that it helps create more efficient work processes:

  1. Start with a clear scope of the process to document.
  2. Involve frontline workers who are part of the work sequence.
  3. Consider all process variations and probable issues.
  4. Keep Standard Work Instructions detailed but simple.
  5. Ensure that the included information is accurate and complete.
  6. Use Scribe to make the documentation visual.
  7. Make it readily available to everyone with Scribe workspace.
  8. Link document to SLAs, OPLs and other relevant project documents.
  9. Regularly review and update Standard Work processes.
  10. Standardize the format across the organization.
🎓 Related Resource: How to Write Effective Standard Work Templates

Wrapping it up

While Standard Work practices follow the philosophy of continuous improvement, it makes processes efficient right after implementation. It’s essential for all businesses to improve their operations. It helps maintain consistent product and service quality.

Standard Work requires a collaborative effort from all team members and workers. And once work is standardized, it’s easier to identify issues and improvement opportunities.

So, sign up for Scribe for free and streamline your Standard Work process documentation and maintenance. It’s not going to be easier than this.

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