Separating work instructions from SOPs



Some facilities work instructions separate from their SOPs, but I do not understand the
rationale for having instructions constitute
a separate document. Either way, the procedure itself and therefore the document
are bound to change, so what difference does it make whether you have to change "only"
the work instructions? If the immutability of SOPs is the reason for having them separate, I do not see its value. Can somebody explain it to me?
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Al Dyer

I like to consider it this way:

Our procedures (level II) make reference to the work instructions (level III).

When a level III document changes it does not mean that we have to re-circulate and approve the level II procedure to note that the level III has changed.

Level III documents are the most important documents in the system as they convey to the work force the method to perform job duties.

It comes down to how you define your document structure, and how it relates to to the personnel using the documents.

IMHO (if this is rs from jt watch out!)


[This message has been edited by Al Dyer (edited 06 February 2001).]


My opinion regarding this matter is that for some companies, the work instructions, for some of the activities, may constitute a secret of fabrication or anyway, a document you wouldn't want to be seen by other people, except your employees. And furthermore, sometimes the procedure for a process cand be expressed in a simple manner, but involving a lot of references to various WI.

But in the end .. as Al said .. is your choice to have them together as well as you can have the procedures included in the quality manual.

Have a quality day! :)


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I agree with Al, why revise a level two document when the change does not affect the overall process.

We use this guideline for deciding the appropriate level:
If the document involves several (areas, departments, machines, fill in the blank as appropriate) and the instructions are not exceptionally complicated, we make it level 2.
If the document is just for one task or one production line or a small group of people from one department and it is more complex we call it a level 3.
We have taken submissions that personnel submitted as level 2 and broken them down into several level 3's. We have also gone the other way with simple yet important items and moved them up a level.
Our final criteria for assigning levels is how much training is involved? If it is something that you can bring in someone off the street and train them in a reasonable amount of time internally, you probably don't need a detailed work instruction for it.

And like Paula, if it is the little things that set you apart from all of your competition and is complex enough, it should probably be in the work instructions.

We pretty much let our customers see any of the level two documents that they request, but when they start asking for work instructions we do what we can to discourage them. We figure that our Registrar was hired with a confidentiality agreement, but you cannot always trust your customer to that same agreement. If they think they have an ax to grind, they may just tell your competition how to better their supplier rating in order to bring in Cousin Roy.

David Mullins

Procedure v WI.

Firstly, what's in a name.

B. This all depends on whether you would actually like your new value-adding employee to succeed as close to the first try as possible, and

Four. Talk to YOUR people to determine the benefits of the diferent approaches, then get key stakeholder agreement on the way to go.

VII. The new standard raises the bar on customer feedback as a tool to ensuring your are meeting customer requirements and expectations (stated and implied), so please give us some feedback Stickney!

PPS - Sorry about the numbering, I couldn't help myself.



>"Why revise a level two document when the >change does not affect the overall process."
Why have two documents, when the information
could be incorporated in a single one?
Now that you mention it, I have heard of
organizations that do not require approval
of their work instructions, which seems
short-sighted. Any document important
enough to be controlled is important enough
to be approved, and if you are going to
have WIs, they would be in this catagory.

>Our final criteria for assigning levels is >how much training is involved? If it is >something that you can bring in someone off >the street and train them in a reasonable >mount of time internally, you probably >don't need a detailed work instruction for >it.
We figure that personnel using these
SOPs are going to have been qualified
for their position and trained on the
procedure, and (in addition to satisfying
quality requirements) the documents
reinforce the training and are a
reference during the period after training
when performance of the tasks may not
yet be rote. (The documents also help
to orient new personnel to their tasks.) Furthermore, the SOPs are usually written
by (or after consultation with) the
person performing the procedure.

>And like Paula, if it is the little things >that set you apart from all of your >competition ..., it should probably be in >the work instructions.
Protection of proprietary information
seems to be a valid reason for
separate documents, but our industry
standards and regulations are uniform,
so any "little" differences are frowned
upon, at least for the basic, product-
generation procedures. Therefore, for
us, this reason is irrelevant.

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