How To Write an Effective Work Instruction Template

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Work Instruction Template Many people confuse these three terms: Process, Procedure and Work Instruction Template. In fact, most people write work instructions and call them procedures, and define a procedure as a process. However, each of these terms has a different definition and has different importance in Quality Management. So, let’s start by drawing the boundaries between process, procedure and work instruction.

What is Work Instruction process?

How To Write an Effective Work Instruction Template

The ISO 9001:2015 standard defines the concept of Business Process as: “A set of related or interacting activities, which transform inputs into outputs”. It is possible to qualify something further by saying that a process is a sequence of activities with an order of completion in time, which converts a given input into an output (result, a product). Any activity or set of activities that uses resources to transform input elements into results can be considered as a process.

What is procedure Work Instruction ?

Do not confuse procedure with process. ISO 9001:2015 says that a Procedure is: “a specified way of carrying out an activity or a process”. When you have a process that is supposed to happen in a specific way and you detail how it happens, you have a procedure. The procedure is mandatory and is necessary to develop any Quality Management System. Please note that not all processes need to have a procedure and that the same process may have one or more procedures associated with it.

A procedure will be determined by the need to detail the specific way of carrying out activities for legal reasons, regulatory compliance or company policies. Procedures are used for activities in which several operations are linked and different people or departments of the company are involved (eg, purchasing procedure, supplier evaluation procedure, invoice automation procedure, procedure for risk work).

What is work instruction of Work Instruction Template?

Work instructions Template are documents that clearly and precisely describe the correct way to perform certain tasks that can cause inconvenience or damage if not carried out in the established way. That is, describe, dictate or stipulate the steps that must be followed to correctly perform any specific activity or work. For example, a purchasing department document that describes the expense documentation to be submitted by the employee in his/her expense note and the steps to follow to submit his/her monthly expenses; this work instruction would be linked to the activity “Send expense note”.

Work instructions are directly related to Lean Manufacturing and mainly focus on explaining how a specific activity will be carried out and are mandatory. Work instructions are used to describe a specific operation, usually associated with a job. If they are not mandatory, we would be talking about a Work Guide.

Work instructions have been around for some time, but their effectiveness is limited due to format (paper), structure (process-oriented) and content (text). We’ve put together 10 practical instructional design tips that will help you write better work instructions.

User focus

Work instructions are intended to help workers perform their jobs. However, we often find instructions that do not focus on this objective. They are designed to show compliance with standards. Created by engineers, showing their technical understanding. Of course, compliance is important, but if you really want your work instructions to be effective, you need to start with the employee:

What information is needed to perform your tasks?
What’s the best way to get this information to them?
How can you provide this information at the time of need?
This “outside-in” instructional design approach really works wonders when you write work instructions.


Now is the time for digital transformation and in the work instruction space, there is a lot of room for improvement. In many places, we find paper folders filled with instructions and work procedures that are not accessible and not available when employees really need them.

Fortunately, digital devices are becoming commonplace in the workplace and have the power to bring instructions closer to where the action is.

Easy viewing.

Work instructions are often text-based and therefore leave a lot of room for interpretation and misunderstanding. If the work takes place in a highly visual context, why use words to describe what needs to be done?

The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Cleverly combining images with text is proven to make instructions even faster to process and easier to understand. We see cases in factories, breweries, distribution centers and healthcare institutions that benefit enormously from visual instructions. Powerful illustrations, photos and animations help workers get their work done clearly and concisely.

Practical and Affordable

In most cases, work instructions include both visuals and text. Text is not a problem, but make sure the text is easy to understand. This requires the application of guidelines and writing models that ensure the clarity and understanding of the text. Simplified Technical English has some good tips and some basic things to remember are:

  • Length of noun groups: no more than 3 words;
  • Sentence length: no more than 20 words;
  • Paragraphs: maximum 6 sentences;
  • Avoid slang and jargon;
  • Be as specific as possible;
  • Use simple verb tenses;
  • Use active voice.
  • User perspective

The technical writing of work instructions is usually done by engineers and tends to focus on the device or machine and its specific parts. To improve the user experience, instructions should be task-focused and written from the user’s perspective – not the product’s perspective. We call this the “outside-in approach”.

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