Standard Work

The Tool & Why It’s Valuable

When individuals perform processes in different ways, quality can be inconsistent. Standard work is the concept of documenting and sharing the “best known” way of performing a task or process so that all who perform the task can make use of it.

Benefits include operating consistency, shorter training times, and reduced errors (waste). Additionally, standard work sets the stage for further improvements. Once employees become proficient, they can experiment with new methods and determine if they produce better or worse results than the accepted standard. If better, this new method can be documented and shared as the new “best known” way.

How to Apply It

  1. Determine the process or the portion of the process you are seeking to document.
  2. Create a visual representation of the process steps via a process map, a screenshot, or some other method.
  3. Add detail via call-outs or checklists, clarifying specific guidance as necessary.
  4. Share the document with others who perform the task. Edit to ensure agreement on “the best way.”
  5. Use your standard work, updating and sharing changes as better methods are found.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • Visual instructions get used. Dense procedure manuals sit on the shelf.
  • Standard work helps address one key portion of the “pace vs. technique” argument. Having a common method makes it easier for newer employees to reach an acceptable level of productivity.
  • A “better” method is one that delivers measurable improvements to Strive for simplicity.
  • Standard work should cover 80-90% of the tasks and scenarios in a given job. Trying to reach 100% is impractical. speed, quality, effort, etc. Don’t be shy about measuring.

Example of Standard Work in Action

The Minerals program within DNR’s Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety issues permits and inspects mine sites. They have more than 20 unique processes, each of which has statutory requirements, specific policies, etc. Establishing standard work has helped them decrease the learning curve for new staff and ensure that their distributed workforce executes intermittent processes consistently.

Their standard work has two parts:

  1. Each process in the document has a map of major activities…

    process map

  2. …followed by a checklist with corresponding details and links to screen shots, forms and statute/rule references.
    Process for a Technical Revision (TR)

    Activities

    Guidance

    Supporting Information

    A : Operator submits request in writing

    • Operator may use form provided on website

    Link: TR Form

    B: Admin performs initial data entry

    • Perform initial data entry into permit system
    • Scan originals into Laserfiche; email alert is automatically sent to the Senior EPS
    • Archive hardcopy of originals

    screenshot: Data Entry

    C: Senior EPS evaluates and assigns

    • Evaluate submittal and determine if TR or Amendment
    • Assign to appropriate EPS via email

    D: EPS reviews for completeness

    • Confirm that there is a check (payment) in the proper amount,