A well written procedure prevents headaches for everyone.

Developing and reviewing a procedure can be a time consuming task for the most seasoned professionals. It can daunting for those new to meeting ISO 9001 (and related) standards.  Wise leaders invest time to make sure their procedures are accurate from the start.

It is vital to distinguish between a procedure and a work instruction from the start.

ISO guidelines require training manuals to track changes in procedures and work instructions. It also requires every employee sign off as an acknowledgement. Care must be taken to distinguish between a procedure and a work instruction. On the surface they may appear to be one and the same, the devil literally lies in the details.

Work instructions are very detailed and usually kept in binders.

They often include photos of the various stages of a product going though a process. Even simple process steps will need a number of pages to accurately depict the expected method. While procedures can and should be memorized, it is unrealistic that work instructions will be. Procedures direct employees to read work instructions before starting a task.

Procedures are easy! How do I develop a work instruction?

The answer for developing procedures and work instructions lie in the same method. Who someone walking in off the street with no process knowledge be able to read, understand and perform the task at hand with no other guidance?

Seek process knowledge and direct input from the employees performing the task.

Generating work instructions can be an employee engagement strategy. Employees who generate their own procedures and work instructions (in part or in whole) are far more likely to follow them with minimal resistance.

For companies seeking to continuously improve, many opportunities reside in ever-evolving procedures and work instructions.

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