Definition SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) vs. Work Instruction vs. Procedures

A

amanbhai

#1
What is the definition & difference of SOP, Work instructions & procedures?
Positively
 
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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#2
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

It is a matter of tiers, document hierarchy and level of detail. It looks like an organizational chart.

SOP, Standard Operating Plan if I understand you right, would be the top layer, or first tier: it is more strategic, overall addresses the program or organization, and has little detail. Of the various documents, this one is most likely to be circulated to customers; if so it is usually devoid of confidential details.

Procedures (second tier) describe the process. They are more detailed than the SOP, more formal than work instructions and will get a large amount of scrutiny during audits. They might have flow charts or point to more documents to support or give even greater detail.

Work instructions (third tier) are the lowest of these layers: closest to the actual work being performed, they might have step-by-step operational instructions or visuals; they might be based on a user's manual or they could be written by someone skilled in doing the work. There may be many work activities or portions to a process; the work instruction is usually dedicated to, written specifically for one of them.
 
E

Ederie - 2007

#3
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

I always associated SOP with Standard Operating Procedure.
Our manual goes Policy, SOP and then work instructions.
Just a matter of culture? or am I wrong?
Thanks,
Ed
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

Ederie said:
I always associated SOP with Standard Operating Procedure.
Our manual goes Policy, SOP and then work instructions.
Just a matter of culture? or am I wrong?
Thanks,
Ed
"SOP" is generally understood to mean Standard Operating Procedure, but it has no official definition as far as the standard is concerned. In tiered ("pyramidal") document systems, it normally refers to the second tier--procedures. The whole idea of the pyramid is a bit of an anachronism, though. There are policies and "documented procedures," which might include what is usually referred to as procedures and work instructions.
 
S

Steve Z - 2008

#5
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

The definition I have always heard for SOP is Standard Operating Procedure. This should be no different than your term "procedure". It is what you are going to do to satisfy the requirements of the standard. Our consultant told us not to add any more procedures that the standard requires. Extra procedures then become your addition to the standard, and any failure to describe how you satisfy the "shalls" of your procedure can be considered a major breakdown in your system.
Work Instructions are the "how you address satisfying the SOP" documents.
A simple tree would be...
The standard says you will have a documented procedure for planning and conducting audits.
Your SOP basically states that you will conduct audits at planned intervals, using trained auditors, etc.
Your work instruction(s) will state when these planned intervals will occur, how you will train the auditors, etc.
The rest of the tree would be the forms you use and the records you keep.
Hope this answers the question.
 

Al Rosen

Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

Steve Z said:
The definition I have always heard for SOP is Standard Operating Procedure. This should be no different than your term "procedure". It is what you are going to do to satisfy the requirements of the standard. Our consultant told us not to add any more procedures that the standard requires. Extra procedures then become your addition to the standard, and any failure to describe how you satisfy the "shalls" of your procedure can be considered a major breakdown in your system.
Work Instructions are the "how you address satisfying the SOP" documents.
A simple tree would be...
The standard says you will have a documented procedure for planning and conducting audits.
Your SOP basically states that you will conduct audits at planned intervals, using trained auditors, etc.
Your work instruction(s) will state when these planned intervals will occur, how you will train the auditors, etc.
The rest of the tree would be the forms you use and the records you keep.
Hope this answers the question.
Let us say you have a 1000 employee organization. Do you believe that you can communicate your operating procedures to all the employees without documenting (except for the 6 required) them?
 
E

Ederie - 2007

#7
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

I can't possibly keep it to the 6 required, and we are only 120 people
 
M

morgand - 2006

#8
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

You have your required procedures, which have to address specific topics, but after that, the definitions and how they interact with one another are up to you so long as you can explain the interaction and use if effectively. A hieratical system is the most common, such as a pyramid.

I've seen 2 places with over 200 employees where the only procedures were the 6 required. Their next level was process materials (high level- mainly flowcharts), followed by instructional materials (very detailed-used for training and reference). These were the labels used by one group, the other I don't recall off the top of my head.
 

Al Rosen

Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

morgand said:
You have your required procedures, which have to address specific topics, but after that, the definitions and how they interact with one another are up to you so long as you can explain the interaction and use if effectively. A hieratical system is the most common, such as a pyramid.

I've seen 2 places with over 200 employees where the only procedures were the 6 required. Their next level was process materials (high level- mainly flowcharts), followed by instructional materials (very detailed-used for training and reference). These were the labels used by one group, the other I don't recall off the top of my head.
They're still documented procedures whatever form they take.
 
M

morgand - 2006

#10
Re: SOP, Work Instruction, & Procedures

Al Rosen said:
They're still documented procedures whatever form they take.
Exactly,
Point being that you can label things what ever so long as you fullfill the requirments and your organizations needs.
 
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