What is a Work Instruction? | Definition

What is a Work Instruction? | Definition

Many get these terms mixed up: policy, business Process, Procedure, and Work Instruction. In truth, most people create work instructions and refer to them as procedures. Or they will write a procedure, which is really a process. Some think of these terms as interchangeable. What is a work instruction?

What’s a Work Instruction?

ergonomic office furniture

Assembly work instruction

A Work Instruction is a description of how to perform a process in steps; For a step in a process, the instruction(s) on how to perform that step, sufficiently detailed to allow an inexperienced person (novice) to perform the work. Work instructions are more detailed than standard operating procedures.

Assembly instructions are common in manufacturing or when you have furniture delivered to and you have to put it together. The little piece of paper  that your receive with your product explains how to assemble the furniture. These assembly instructions are a form of work instruction.

Work Instruction in the Document Pyramid

The document pyramid lists the hierarchy of the four types of documents.

  1. Policies. Organizing principles that can represent rules to guide employees (employee policies) or a mission statements used to guide a process or procedure.
  2. Procedures. A series of steps that achieve a planned result.
  3. Work Instructions. Detailed step-by-step guide.
  4. Records. Evidence (data) of an event that has occurred.

A Work Instruction is Also Know As

policy manual

Document Pyramid

  • Standard Work when used in a Lean system.
  • Job Aids, which are typically more picture than words.
  • Work Guides.
  • Checklists.
  • Recipe when used in cooking.
  • User Manuals that may explain how to use a product.
  • Assembly Instructions.

Work Instruction Benefits

Work instructions communicate exactly what needs to be done in a step-by-step manner. If you follow the work instruction as written, then you will reduce risks, minimize errors, and save time.

  • Reduce Risk by detailing the safest way to execute a something.
  • Minimize Errors by following a tested method of how it was done before.
  • Save Time be reducing risks and minimizing errors you will do it right the first time.

Blog Posts About Work Instructions

There are many blog posts written about work instructions. You will find a few below:

What are Examples of Standard Work Instructions?


What’s the Difference Between Procedures and Work Instructions?

How Much Detail Goes into A Procedure?



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