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Standard Work

What is Standard Work used for?

Standard work ensures an activity is performed consistently AND constant OUTPUT of a process.

There are two types of Processes:

1.  Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) – detailed instructions.  Used mostly by new employees.

2.  Standard Work Instructions (SWI) - less detailed.  These are used as a quick Reference guide for those already trained or cross training for experienced employees (e.g. Customer Service Representatives) so consistent practices are maintained.  You may want to call them Cheat Sheets.

Measuring training progress
  • Standard Work Instructions need to be easily accessible to operators, agents or administrators that need to refer to them

  • Pages may be put in clear plastic sleeves in a three-ring-binder to allow the person to easily flip through the pages

and/or made available in computerized format (file server, Knowledge Base etc), in PDF format to prevent editing, for display on a computer screen.

Benefits of Standard Work Instructions
  • Easier and faster to cross train

  • More efficient for back up purposes

  • Improved reaction time in dealing with unexpected demand peaks

  • Up to 75% reduced learning curve

  • 10-25% productivity or efficiency improvements

  • More consistent outputs = customer satisfaction

How to create Standard Work Instructions

1.  Identify ALL activities – then select the KEY activities out of the complete list.

2.  Prioritize by importance (or largest % of time spent – for this measuring is needed before next step).

3.  Create teams of 4-5 people to work with a group lead to develop the Standard Work Instruction.

4.  Observe the current process – Identify the differences between people, opportunities to streamline, and any non value add (NVA).

5.  Agreement - Based on speed and accuracy of best observed process, obtain agreement on “best practices” within the team.

6.  Document the process in a simple, visual way (SWI).

7.  Train all other persons performing the activity using the new Standard Work Instruction.

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8.  Monitor for effectiveness, issues and compliance - Continuous Improvement cycle. You could use the following review process 1) What worked well; 2) What could be done differently and 3) Decide a couple of actions to integrate in your next planning phase to make it better... and so on and so forth.

Take Away

Introducing Standard Work Instructions into the office work space is simple, quick and effective.  It brings teams of experts together to brainstorm and network on what may appear to be simple tasks. 

By experience, it is clear that while a business considers employees to all be following the same process, the differences between newer and more experienced people is highly visible.

Try it out with only one process and see just how diverse even the newest of companies or processes can be.

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As a Lean consultancy, we are passionate about simplicity and Lean is a mindset that we apply in all our areas of activity. Our Lean Office and Leadership-oriented communication training programs act as a catalyst to help you accelerating your professional skills and abilities to face the future of work.

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