Documentation

How To Write Effective Standard Work Instructions (+Template)

Discover what a standard work template is, and how to effectively implement it within an organization.

Introduction

Get and use this template

‎If you work in the Product/Production team and are currently struggling with process documentation, you're in luck.

You're looking to create a standardized work instruction like SOPs that provides a detailed guideline that’ll help your employees work faster and execute their tasks effectively and accurately.

A standard work template provides a step-by-step guide that can easily be transferred to anyone in your organization — with the sole aim of guiding them in carrying out their daily responsibilities, especially when  there is no one to monitor them.

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a work instruction template for your organization. Dive in!

What is standard work?

Standard work is the process of standardizing procedures within the workplace. This ensures that every employee has a standard set of steps to follow for specific tasks — with the aim of reducing work inconsistencies, enhancing consistency, and promoting continuous improvement in the workplace.

Basically, standard work is used by organizations to show its employees or workers how a particular task is performed. This can be likened to the step-by-step instruction you follow when you want to set up your juice blender for the first time.This could include confirming that the wire isn't wet, keeping the appliance away from extreme temperatures, 

direct sunlight and excessive humidity, not placing the appliance near heaters, open fires or other products or equipment that are sources of heat, or ensuring that before connecting the product to the power outlet, it's confirmed that the voltage on the rating label is the same as that in the power outlet.

What are standardized work examples?

A clear example of standardized work examples could be machine operations in the Production department. This could mean when operating certain machinery, employees must follow specific steps to ensure the machine is used correctly and safely. 

Another example is utilizing standard work instructions in customer-facing roles.  Customer support employees are usually given scripts for specific customer service encounters. In turn, this establishes specific replies and approaches in different customer service situations — without compromising uniformity.

Why is a standardized work template important?

If you're looking to provide your team with detailed and specific instructions on how to perform any task effectively, then you need a work instruction template.

Some businesses are guilty of not creating  standard work instructions because they feel that a lot of processes and procedures used in the company can be understood by the employees after rigorous training or simply don’t have the time to do so. Having a work instruction template for your organization will be beneficial in many ways. Some of them include:

Reduces human errors. If you don’t have a standard work template in your company, there’s a likelihood that employees will make mistakes often. However, with one, everyone will know exactly what to do at each point of performing a task in the company.

Saves more time. A standard work template helps your employees become more productive and efficient in their daily tasks.

This chart by Gluu reiterates the return on investment (ROI) organizations enjoy when work instructions are established. 

 Chart on the ROI organizations enjoy when work instructions are established.

Builds an internal knowledge base. With a standard work template established, it becomes easier to build a company’s knowledge base. Consequently, you're guaranteed that employees will have more knowledge about how things work in the company.

Effective employee onboarding & training. A standard work template helps to train your new employees better by making it easier for them to understand why specific tasks are performed and how they can do the same.

What are the uses of a standard work template?

Some of the uses of this documentation include the following:

  • Ensures that every employee abides with the regulatory standards guiding it.
  • Outlines how employees can perform complex tasks in a simple step-by-step instruction.
  • Eliminates all forms of communication barrier among employees in the organization.
  • Assists the company in implementing a consistent method for all processes in each department.
  • Explains what each part of a process or task in the company entails, such as the tools, responsibilities, requirements, etc.
  • Helps to train new employees and ensure that established employees are constantly updated about the company’s processes and procedures.
  • Reduces the risk of human errors when employees are working on a specific task.
  • Ensures that all employees in a department follow a specific procedure to execute their tasks.

How to write a standard work template

A standard work template should achieve three major things: be clear, useful and helpful. Below is an outline of a standard work template, plus some standard work tips on how to make it effective.

A clear & easy-to-understand title

Ensure that the title is clear and easy to understand.

This is because the title is the first thing anybody reading the template will see. Since the work instruction template shows your employees how to accomplish a task, one of the best headline formats to use for this is the “How To” format. An example is, “How To Fix a Rechargeable Fan's 12V DC Motor."

Descriptive introduction.

The next step when writing a standard work template outline is to include a descriptive introduction. This guides your employees and helps them understand what the template is all about, and what they need to do with it.

The introduction section should provide more context about the task, identify the employees responsible for it, and outline how the task should be completed in a step-by-step guide.

Using the example, “How To Fix a Rechargeable Fan's 12V DC Motor," a short introduction could be:

“This standard work template shows you how to fix a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor in the company. Team members in the production/technical department should use this guide whenever there’s a need to fix the DC motor of a rechargeable fan in the organization."

Description of the task's purpose

Include the reason(s) for creating a standard work template for your Product/Production teams in this section. Doing this helps you identify the purpose that it serves in the first place.

One of the best ways to do this successfully is by answering the question “why.” This helps you to understand what you’re doing better and includes more details for your employees in the next steps. 

Still using the “How To Fix a Rechargeable Fan's 12V DC Motor" example, your "why's" could be:

  • Why should you fix a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor?
  • Why is fixing a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor important?
  • What steps should you take to fix a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor?
  • Who should be responsible for fixing a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor? 

Detailed description of how to do the task.

If you don’t show your new employees how to complete a task, chances are they won’t know how to do it. And that's why this is the most important section in a standard work template.

The first thing you should do is to mention all the materials needed to complete a task. In the case of repairing a rechargeable fan's 12V DC motor, some of the materials needed to complete the task include: 

  • Scraping pliers.
  • Alligator clip (KKL type).
  • Round steel tube brush (SCOC type).
  • Flat steel tube brush (SCOR type).
  • Bending tool.
  • Stripping insert. 

The next step is to break down how to complete each task in an easy-to-follow direction that is clear and understandable. Where applicable, use diagrams, images, videos, and charts to explain this step better.

Formatting

Formatting ensures that your standard work template is easy to read and understand. Here are some tips: 

  • Use images where possible.
  • Bold each step so that it stands out.
  • Use heading tags to ensure that the title and subtitles stand out.
  • Include numbered and bulleted items.
  • Make sure the instructions are arranged sequentially.
  • Use color filters where necessary.

Information validation

Once you’ve completed all of the steps above, the next thing to do is to validate the information. Reach out to key stakeholders in the company, especially experienced employees, who have a firm grasp of the workings of each department.

Also, you can consult subject matter experts to verify if all the steps in the instruction are current and accurate.

Add references

Where necessary, add references at the end of your standard work template. This means either adding an appendix or footnotes at the end of the template. Adding references provide your employees with more sources that they can visit for further reading.

Standard work template (& how to create one with Scribe)

Here's a standard work template that you can use and share today.

And here are some instructions on how to duplicate and start using a template made with Scribe.

Create your own template

Creating a standard work template had never been so simple. Scribe documents processes 15X faster by automatically capturing and generating a visual step-by-step guide of your processes while you work.

Don't just take my word for it. Here what a Scribe user says:

How to use Scribe to automate process documentation has never been easier! Here's how to use Scribe to create a standard work template:

Step 1: Visit here to sign up for free. 

Step 2: Select "Work" reasons. You could also select "Personal" depending on your reason for using Scribe.

Step 3: Select any of the options below, depending on what you want to achieve with your standard work template.

Step 4: Personalize your experience.

Personalize your Scribe experience

Step 5: Complete your Scribe account by signing up with your email address.

Step 6: Once registration is complete, create a Page. A page can be likened to a Google Drive for organizing your Google Docs. In Scribe, you'll be arranging your "Scribes" under your "Pages." 

Step 7: Create your first Scribe or Page. Here's what a Page for “How To Fix a Rechargeable Fan's 12V DC Motor," looks like:

How to Fix a Rechargeable Fan

P.S: You can also edit your work, and select themes and colours to match your company's branding. 

Step 8: Once you've documented your processes, select the "Share" feature and

  • Send the URL to teammates.
  • Embed in existing tools and wikis.
  • Export as PDF.

Ready to create your next standard work template for free? Start Scribing here!