The content of Work Instructions



The contents of work instruction should describe critical activities. Details which do not give more control of the activity should be avoided.
How to justify which is critical activities?
What is the criteria?
Why details should be avoided?:(

(4.6.2 Contents: ISO/TR 10013:2001)
Ok, I'll start off...

First I'd have a look at 9001:2000 4.2.1 note 2.

I suppose an activity would be considered critical if a failure to perform it correctly means that the end product suffers?

That, in turn, puts the focus on the skill level of the operator and the compexity of the operation.

Opinions anyone?



Work Instruction Content

Also don't forget Note 2 of 4.2.1, dealing with what to consider when looking at the detail of the work instruction.

M Greenaway

Again this is something only you can answer. Dont worry that an auditor will pick you up for not having a work instruction, or not having sufficient detail in a work instruction - it wont happen.

Conducting an FMEA might well highlight areas that need control, which you may target through additional work instructions if so desired.

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
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We've discussed this in another recent thread. Bottom line: Work with the people who will be using the WI to determine what level of detail is needed to do the task effectively and efficiently. Consider the users' education, skill level, familiarity with the job, how often it is performed (might people forget things if it is an infrequently done task?), training, who will be the "backup" task performer if/when the primary task performer is not at work and what might their needs be, the criticality of the task, etc. As is often said here in the Cove, write it so that it works for your people, not for the auditor. Don't get paralyzed by analysis -- try something and revisit it later to see if it is working and adequate, if not revise it as needed (PDCA!). JMO as always.


Hello s_warin,

A few thoughts...

give due consideration to Standing Operating Procedures - for example, SOP1 describes inserting light bulb
SOP2 describes testing light bulb
SOP3 describes removing old light bulb

So the "Real" procedure might state: SOP3 --> SOP1 --> SOP2.

Next time when there is no old bulb in the socket, the "real" procedure is SOP1 --> SOP2.
This avoids having to re-write the entire procedure.

Of course the example would really apply to the more complicated common procedures that need to be performed.

The real question is, What do your employees need to know to get the procedure done? Document it, or train them to do it in their sleep, and toss (put away) the procedure.

Can you verify that the result is correct based and meeting your expectations (spc, inspections, etc..) with no written procedure? If yes, then the procedure can stay absent. Is the procedure being performed with the same problems over and over? Maybe put reminders near the machine. ("Keep machine clear of chips to prevent scratching...") Keep in mind that a "procedure" also can be:
-a video of the work example
-an internal web page with instructions
-a sample with numbers on the parts indicating the order of work
-a sample in some level of partial assembly secured to the wall or a board with numbers indicating order (think of taking a hamburger apart and stapling each item on the wall in order of assembly with arrows!... this also gets beyond language barriers)
-pictures in order (e.g. think of teaching a child to do chores)

Keep it simple and clear. Include the details that always get forgotten that matter.



Re: What do you think about the content of Work Instruction?

Very true in my own experience as well. Concentrate on those aspects, parameters (specs) that are the process/manufacturing variables. These will dictate the level of instructional control you may need to write. Provide detail ... where it is needed to produce uniformly. The WI could just say, "make it to drawing XXX" or may need level(s) of WI to complete. A skilled machinist might only need the base drawing, while lesser trained/skilled employees would need more detailed instructions.


Great answer Mike S. As we have worked with customers over the years we have learned that the only hard and fast rule is "know your audience." This encompasses skill level, frequency of build, complexity, regulatory requirements, etc.

Regarding leaving out detail, while unnecessary information should be avoided, we have encountered companies that write only very general, high-level instructions to avoid issues of not following the work instructions when being audited. We typically find this practice in organizations that are just trying to skate by as opposed to organizations that are really focused on lean and quality.
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