Work Instruction vs SOP: What is Better for Your Business?

Last Updated on March 14, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

Work Instruction vs SOP: What is Better for Your Business?

Featured Bonus Content: Download the FREE List of The Best SOP and Work Instruction Software Handpicked for Your Business! Click Here To Download It.

Work instruction vs SOP, or how these two business elements are different from each other, is best understood in the context of business production. 

Work instruction shows the person who does the actual work exactly how it is done, step by step, with image and multimedia support where necessary. SOP, or standard operating procedure, outlines what is to be done and by who, in accordance with existing company policies. 

Here’s a table that explains the differences and similarities. 

Work Instruction vs Standard Operating Procedure

Work Instruction

Standard Operating Procedure

Explains in exact detail how a specific task is to be performed.Outlines what is to be done by who.
Addresses only the personnel entrusted with getting the specific task done, usually assuming the said personnel are new on the job (even if they are not).Addresses everyone involved in the business process(es) outlined.
Includes tribal knowledge but in a regimented and consistent fashion where nothing is (ideally) open to interpretation or vague.Tribal knowledge is mostly irrelevant; it aims at complying with ISO 9000 policies while being an official record of the sequence in which certain jobs are to be performed, the manner of allocation, and the matter of accountability.
Best practices while creating WI involve consulting with experienced workers and getting the draft reviewed by them as well as by new recruits to make sure the instructions are clear and functional to the most optimum level.Usually involves only higher-level management and some experts and is distributed as a document that both informs and expects mandatory compliance.
Each phase of a given task may have its own set of work instructions as well as what is sometimes referred to as “job aids” which, again, may come as a part of the original work instruction sheet itself.Comes in the form of a document that may outline one or more jobs but certainly does not address in any detail how the different phases are to be performed; may assign a time-frame, however, as well as state the threshold of expected waste. 
The focus is on getting a specific job done in one regimented manner by all workers. More about policy compliance, general quality assurance, and expected outcome without delving in on the nitty-gritty.

With that out of the way, here’s how work instruction is different from a standard operating procedure.

Table of Contents

  1. Business Terminology & Related Hierarchy
  2. Standard Operating Procedure
  3. How SweetProcess Can Help
  4. Work Instructions
  5. Work Instruction vs SOP
  6. Work Instruction or SOP

1. Business Terminology & Related Hierarchy

Business Terminology & Related Hierarchy

We gave you the short version at the outset; now you’ll want to understand the differences between SOP and work instructions in the context of how a business is run or, ideally, should be run to create zero or minimal waste and achieve Kaizen. 


Do you continuously strive to be your best self? Are you always thinking about how to do things more efficiently, how to lead an even better life, how to organize your workspace with the perfect balance in aesthetics and functionality?  Once you reach your goal, do you continuously try to improve upon it? If this is you, you have Kaizen.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means continuous improvement in all spheres of life. So, “You have Kaizen” may not be the linguistically correct way to put it, but you get what we mean.

The word and the concept was introduced to the Western world in 1986 when McGraw-Hill published Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success by Masaaki Imai. It is a handbook that explains Kaizen and contains 15 corporate case studies and more than 100 examples of how to implement 16 Kaizen management practices. 

To sum up, Kaizen is the way of attaining perfection and improving upon it continuously. And this leads to a lean production process

(Lean) Business Production

According to Techopedia, “The word ‘lean’ in the term simply means no excess, so lean production can be translated simply into minimal waste manufacturing.” In a perfect world, a simple procedure would be developed in order to keep process and production at their maximum value. However, given all the variables in a business and in a procedure, achieving a lean production might be a little more complex. 

Production follows several steps: 


The first step is to know exactly what you wish to achieve. Knowing what you want may include your desired return on investment (ROI), maintaining your reputation and sticking to your ideas of business ethics. You wouldn’t just sign a contract on the basis of “We deliver, they pay.” Retaining clients should also be a part of your goal. 


After that, you will want a policy (or, depending upon the extent of your operation, several different policies which never clash with each other). Here are a few examples:

  • How are you going to achieve maximum ROI while staying within your predetermined ethical standards? 
  • What are the things you will never do to achieve that ROI?
  • How would you treat your employees? 
  • Does your policy encourage you to merely have a team of well-paid, efficient workers, or would you like to also have them as individuals who feel valued in their workplace and are happy to remain loyal to you?

A policy will set boundaries and clarify your goal. 


After the last two preparatory elements, the broadest, most high-level overview shows how  to achieve your goal without violating your own boundaries. Levels indicate chronology, not importance. The highest level element is merely what comes first. Usually, it will contain the least details. 

  • Your goal is at the highest level—achieve 20 percent extra profit on project X, for example. 
  • Your policies come next. They tell you, among other things, what you will never resort to in order to achieve your goal—any goal. An example could be, “Never outsource to a place/institution/entity where the complete absence of child labor cannot be conclusively determined.”
  • A process is the primary overview and will demarcate areas of expertise, numbers, deadlines, and departments. 
  • A procedure is a detailed overview of getting the job done. The “job” could be the entire project, or the smaller parts that constitute it. Frequently, there will be a number of procedures for a single process. A risk assessment process, for example, cannot always be functional with just one procedural overview. There would be a procedure for electricity, another for operating machinery in general, and individual procedures for each tool. Most likely, these individual procedures will come as standard operating procedure (SOP) or work instruction, or both.
  • An SOP goes even deeper into procedures themselves and creates detailed guides so that each task may be completed in the most efficient manner. 
  • Work instructions are the final level which tells the worker how each task is to be done, step by step, leaving nothing out. 

The following would come under process:

  • Workers with specific expertise assigned appropriate tasks.
  • The approximate number of workers needed.
  • Deadline for completion of production.
  • If a testing phase is required.
  • Which department head remains accountable for what process.

The process is an overview of how the work is to be done. It is broken down into relevant subsections and described in detail when you create procedures. 

Standard Operating Procedure

Even if your production has not reached the lean stage, procedures should always be flawless. Procedures are the actual, hands-on work stage. Everything should be as perfectly planned as possible. 

Procedures could cover the following areas:

  • Anticipation of what could go wrong and employing appropriate safety measures. 
  • If all parts of the production process should commence and continue at once.
  • Breaking down the work into its smallest sections.
  • Creating a list of tools and a maintenance schedule for each job.

The SOP, or standard operating procedure, focuses on getting one specific job done, flawlessly. “Standard” describes a “tool” that is expected to lead to lean production. Every SOP should contain very specific information. 

For example, regarding the maintenance of tools, there may be a single procedure which provides an overview of maintenance, departments and personnel involved, allocated budget and other relevant details. But each category of tools will most likely come with its own SOP which will mention, in addition:

  • the individual(s)—by designation, not name—responsible for their maintenance. 
  • the exact material (oil, for example, or grease), including the brand, to be used for such maintenance. 
  • the precise amount (where applicable) of each material to be used per cycle.
  • and how and where the tool is to be stored post-maintenance.

What even the most flawless SOP does not describe in detail, step by step, is “how” the maintenance will be done. That comes under the purview of work instructions.

Work Instruction

Continuing with the previous example, for a set of pliers, the work instructions will usually come with a diagram labeling all its different parts. There will be a set of very specific instructions. Something like this:

  • Wear rubber gloves and protective goggles before beginning maintenance.
  • If your dominant hand is the left, use the blue half of the workbench.
  • If your dominant hand is the right, use the yellow half of the workbench.
  • Use gray rag for grease and red rag for spirit.
  • Refills for spirit and grease are to be found on rack L2.
  • Place all pliers on the tray on your less dominant side before beginning work.

Work instruction, therefore, is the last “hands-on” stage of the production cycle which details every single step of how a certain job is done. It may get really detailed and complex if the job requires more than just servicing a few pliers. Regardless, the one thing that a work instruction will always have is absolute clarity, so that the worker who is doing the job is never in doubt about what is to be done or who to call if there is a doubt. 

Record Keeping

This is the final stage which may be used to evaluate performance, revise policies and processes, etc. The nature of this differs from business to business, but it is largely one of documentation and analysis. You can understand how this stage may be a significant part of not just the production process but of the journey to achieving lean as well. 

Good record-keeping practices allow you to evaluate yourself accurately. It enables your successors (who may not have known you) to understand how the business evolved, what its strong points are, and what it struggled with. With all that data in your hands, whether it is from the last 20 months or 200 years, you can create clarity for everyone in your business.

A good record or report will also include error evaluation and analysis that will cover how the project completed its goal and what can be done in the future to make things run in a more efficient manner. If you ignore record keeping, you leave money on the table.

2. Standard Operating Procedure

Standard Operating Procedure

To sum up, an SOP details the perfect way to get a job done. It is certainly more than an overview, but not nearly as detailed as work instruction. It is important to note, however, that in spite of relatively fewer details, an SOP can be more complex in nature than a work instruction sheet. 

The Ideal SOP

Be it an SOP or a WI, it is impossible to collect the dynamic knowledge acquired by employees doing a certain job hands-on. While this is not exactly a weakness, it could still be a problem if there is no system in place for acquiring this “tribal knowledge.” One solution could be a mandatory debrief while record keeping for every job or project. 

But even with that, most of the time an SOP can be improved upon—if the administration understands the value of such improvement. In The Myth of the SOP, Aliah Blackmore goes into this (and more) and outlines certain things that are almost consistently absent in most SOPs, but which could certainly make an SOP more effective.

What does a contemporary SOP usually not contain?

1. Case studies drawing on organizational “history” to provide information, which can be used to improve future processes.

2. History of processes

3. Descriptive list of particular problems to look out for

4. Outline of tried and tested solutions

5. Descriptive list of available resources

6. Links to indirectly related processes

She suggests certain things that the “future” SOP could very well contain and by future, she seems to mean the “ideal” SOP: 

1. Examples derived from organizational history and intended to facilitate participation of new know-how contributors; these examples can include:

– Case studies

– Plan/intention (in context of business goals)

– Method used

– Main problems

– Solutions

– Definition and comparison of successful and unsuccessful aspects

2. References to relevant SOP and non-SOP history

– Links to ISI databases containing history of organizational processes that can be used to gain more in-depth information on aspects of any given SOP

– References to relevant case studies

– References to documents on best practices and lessons learned

She uses the following figure to describe the difference between future and current SOPs or, as we may interpret it, between the usual and the ideal SOPs:

what should an sop contain

We do not suggest you prioritize this and focus all your effort and time on creating the perfect SOP, but certainly anyone can gain from the perspective offered here. The purpose of the SOP is not to intimidate workers or to get them in line by throwing at them a rigid set of rules. On the contrary, the SOP should, like any other part of the business process, lead to Kaizen and a lean production. 

To understand SOP and how it is different from work instruction, you must know how each is created, implemented, and made functional. 

Before the digital age happened, you needed to type out everything, make photocopies and distribute them among your workers. Today, the process is simpler, but the requirements remain the same: you still need to create them and give your employees access. 

This is a breeze with a work instruction software like SweetProcess. Get everything done in one place, at once, without printing a single page. A good software will also have prompts to guide you and minimize possible errors. You can view the entire document, share it for feedback and make your employees feel good about contributing to the success of the business that helps them make a living. 

Additionally, you can give them editing rights, so that, for example, if a step were missed in the original version, it may be added without delay. 

Your entire team can work in synchronous mode using a single platform like SweetProcess, where everyone can literally be on the same page at the same time, or whenever they need to be. In the next chapter, we’ll show you how.

We frequently talk about the evils of modernization and how it has destroyed the human touch with virtual social networks, but this is one instance when you are saving trees, making money for yourself and your employees, creating less waste overall in terms of time and effort.

Which reminds us: we have created a list of top nine SOP/WI creating software that includes enough variety to cater to most people’s interests. We have done the hard work and sorted through a zillion listings (okay, not really) and prepared for you the ones best suited in terms of features, ease of use, versatility and, of course, a no-credit-card-required trial. Let us know where to send it and it’s all yours. 

The Best SOP and Work Instruction Software Handpicked for Your Business

Here’s a bit more about SOP you’ll want to know about.

Types of SOP

No matter how basic or advanced your standard operating procedures may look, they can be grouped into two main heads depending upon their core function. The one that we are familiar with is the function of preparing a plan (which is less detailed than a work instruction) to get a certain job done with optimal efficiency. And the other, less talked about is the one that ensures that this plan is, indeed, being followed or was followed. 

Management SOP

It is only logical that there would be an SOP to oversee all other SOPs. What happens when department X says they are following their stipulated procedures but you don’t see expected results? For all you know, every single person in the department could be working very hard without realizing that they are not doing it right. With a management SOP in place, it would be easy to hold a discussion and see where things are going wrong. 

This, for example, is an SOP that is administrative in nature:

management sop

This is more of an overview. The people entrusted with the responsibility will have their individual standard operating procedure for doing things properly. In other words, both the petty cash unit and the ASC transaction team will, ideally, have their own SOPs to follow.  

As an administrative SOP, this is an overview of how things ought to be performed. It is not a guide for the steps necessary to ensure that things were, indeed, performed as they were supposed to be. For that, the management SOP (which is at a higher level to this document) will lay down guidelines similar to the following: 

  • Assign the task of overseeing to the error management team; current members are [names and designations of members]. The EMT team should adhere to the following as far as possible and keep a record of instance(s) where exceptions had to be made.
  • Examine the origin of error in terms of department, personnel, or machines, as the case may be.
  • Examine and compare past performance and occurrence of similar errors, if any; take note of the frequency of errors and any additional note that may be found in related records.
  • Locate and interview the individuals directly involved with the concerned job; note that the “interview” is not an “interrogation” and must not affect employee morale or cause dissent. 
  • Shortlist the personnel present at the time the error occurred and interview them. 
  • Take note of anyone who was supposed to be present but was not.

As you can see, if a management SOP needs to be accurate and immediately functional, it is important for it to contain the names of the individuals who will get the job done. And this is only one reason why a management SOP must be updated scrupulously and regularly. The other most important reasons are updated safety protocols, legal implications that may change over time and could cost you if ignored, and changes in company policies. 

The management SOP is your failsafe. If you don’t pay extra attention to it, that would be like carrying a deflated spare on a long drive. 

Technical SOP

This is the version of the standard operating procedure which is most commonly known, and deals with the job at hand instead of overseeing whether that same job was performed following its own SOP or not. 

The administrative SOP in the previous example is administrative only because it comes as a sort of directive for the employees. If we view it as a standalone standard operating procedure (ignoring the “directive” part), it is also a technical SOP. The ASC and the petty cash unit, in turn, would have their own technical SOPs to perform optimally. If necessary, they may also be given even more detailed work instructions. 

3. How SweetProcess Can Help

How SweetProcess Can Help

Let’s give you an illustrated tour of exactly how simple it is to create a standard operating procedure using specialized software. For this, we’ll be using SweetProcess, of course. And when you log in, you will find a default procedure template already waiting for you. There’s also a guided tour pop-up that shows you what you need to do to make it your own:

creating a procedure using sweetprocess

If you continue with the guided tour, you will find instructions for each step you need to take (remind you of something in the production process?):

sweetprocess guided tour

You could say that this is a work instruction for creating a standard operating procedure (but it isn’t; more on this in a minute). Here’s what it looks like:

work instruction for creating a procedure

In actual use, though, for this to be work instruction we’d need a lot more details to be specified, like font, font size, background color, the maximum number of words a paragraph should have, the readability score range, spacing between words and paragraphs…you get the idea. 

Coming back to where we were, this is what the procedure editing area looks like:

procedure editing area

You will notice that we have chosen “Decision” from the three options. This is where your procedure is not entirely linear. There are choices to be made (e.g., “maintenance” or “servicing”) based on which one the worker will branch off to the appropriate sub-procedure, as it were. 

If you want to change this to a normal step, that is easily done by choosing the relevant option from the dropdown list that appears once you click on the “Actions” tab. Everything is editable, everything is intuitive and nothing goes live unless you approve it—after previewing it.

When implementing the SOP and making it functional, let’s take a look at the essentials. If you click the Actions tab top-right, these are your options:

sweetprocess actions

If you choose the Share option, a pop up will appear:

sweetprocess share option

Speaking of teammates, here’s how you add a team to begin with, from the left sidebar:

sweetprocess teams

You can all leave comments and interact constantly if required so that everyone and everything is in the loop at all times. 

The reason we chose to show you the Decision element earlier is that an SOP may sound simple when you look at the definition or description of it, but in practice, it can be rather complex (as mentioned at the beginning of this section).  

As you have just seen in the Decision example, Procedure 1 may have ten different procedures branching off from it. They may very well have their own branches. Yes, this can be done manually, but you’d have to hire an army of skilled workers who have a distinct penchant for writing letters with ink and quill instead of sending emails. It is probably best to use software that makes the job a breeze and saves on time and money.

Hopefully, we’ve been able to give you a somewhat detailed overview of a standard operating procedure (or, simply, a procedure) from its inception to implementation. What you need to go beyond the overview stage at this point is getting your hands dirty.

So, to really understand the SOP, why not give SweetProcess a try? We have a 14-day trial option (no credit card required), and you get full access with regular emails from us (optional) on how to make the best use of SweetProcess (which is way more than just an SOP machine, by the way). 

If you are satisfied and make a purchase, you’ll have 30 days to change your mind and leave with a full, no-questions-asked refund. 

Plus, just because you gave us a try, we’ll give you an hour’s consultation on whatever aspect of your business you may need a bit of consultation with. 

Good enough? Click here

But wait, don’t take our word for it: Here’s something that may help you decide. 

If you remember, we did mention in passing how SweetProcess is much more than just SOP and work instruction. To drive home the point, here are a couple of stories which are NOT about either of those two. 

Turkstra Lumber was established in 1953. Their documentation was done via Excel sheets. It worked fine until it didn’t. And then they went looking for options to ensure lean production and more importantly, to get out of the wasteful chaos they had put themselves in. 

In their own words, “SweetProcess has to be something more than just a fancy way of writing down all the things you do, and that’s what it has managed to be. It’s a way that employees of all stripes can make corrections and participate.” Read more about their story here.

Cullen Insurance Agency is, thanks to SweetProcess, a $25 million premium agency today. An insurance agency functions differently from how a house building business (by which we mean Turkstra Lumber) operates. And yet they benefited from using SweetProcess. Function, operation…whatever you wish to call it, all companies need to be seamless with everyone on board, in the simplest manner possible. That’s what SweetProcess gives you.

In the words of Zac Cullen, chief executive officer, “I liked the easy use. When we were making a process, how easy it was to be able to go step by step. I wanted something that was very, very simple. Like if it’s one keystroke, I want a step for it. If it’s another keystroke, I need a step for it. And a picture, screenshot, and utilizing video.” Here’s their story.

Speaking of types of businesses that are different from each other, how about we look at Forensic Analytical Consulting Services? They already had standard operating procedures in place – which the employees preferred not to use because they were too complex. 

After using SweetProcess, this is what Kevin Trapp, director of operations, now has to to say:

“The best testament I can give is that, similar to how people call facial tissue Kleenex, our company now says ‘Is there a SweetProcess for that?’ They don’t say SOPs or anything—literally that’s what I get requests for. People are going there without me prompting them to do so.”

If you are suitably impressed, or at least curious about how SweetProcess may be lauded by companies from such disparate categories, here’s the link to our trial again. 

4. Work Instruction

work instruction

The manual on how to set up the music system you just bought is a work instruction sheet for you, the user. This process generally comes under the domain of technical writing. However, it doesn’t seem technical, since every effort is taken by the writer to make sure the writing is not technical. All the complex tech jargon is stripped away so that the end-user, usually a layperson, can figure out how to put together or/and operate something they bought. 

The worker in the factory who actually created what you bought used a different set of work instructions—on how to create it, of course. 

The common factor in the two scenarios is the nature of the instructions: very precise, very thorough, as if someone first took their time to observe how each job is best completed and then recorded the exact steps in a document. 

In fact, this is a very important point to be taken note of when we think of work instruction. Someone experienced is always involved, even if they are not good at documenting things. Veteran workers are taken into confidence to share tribal knowledge. Younger ones are consulted to know if they are able to improve upon the older methods. 

Let’s take a moment to understand the concept of tribal knowledge. Say John is a 62-year-old veteran in the maintenance department of your water purifying plant. He always seems to get work done faster while workers half his age (but fully competent) lag behind. When you ask him about this, he shows you how, when working with a wrench, applying pressure with the thumb (and not with the fist as a whole) gets certain nuts and bolts tightened faster. And how to place your feet to get the maximum leverage when applying force. Or how grease should ideally be applied to make the job of cleaning up afterward easier. 

John did not learn these things from a textbook. This is his experience speaking. And it gets the job done more efficiently. Tribes refer to different individuals, departments, sections and areas within your business. It is very likely that many of them will have honed their skills and added their experience to get the job done right. This knowledge which comes of experience is generally referred to as tribal knowledge. 

There’s just one problem: John is going to retire in three years. When he goes, his knowledge goes with him because he did not record his experience anywhere, and neither did you. He may have taught something to the newcomers, but that’s about it. 

So when you encourage sharing of tribal knowledge, you are essentially documenting irreplaceable and invaluable experience which can now be incorporated into your SOPs and work instructions, which in turn ought to lead to less waste and a leaner operation. 

After the work instruction is drafted, it is given a trial run to see if the instruction makes sense. Sometimes people who will never be involved with the job (and have practically no knowledge about it) are asked for their opinion on how a set of instructions have been drafted. The assumption is that if people without any connection to or having any knowledge about the job can figure out the instructions then, at least, clarity in communication has definitely been achieved. 

Standard operating instructions can be created through a high or mid-level meeting with a couple of subject experts present. Mostly, you’ll need strategists, and someone who can oversee whether or not your document complies with the ISO 9001 guidelines. Everyone “knows” how the work should proceed, what equipment to use, which departments will be involved and which personnel from such departments. You’re creating a game plan. 

In case you’re wondering what the ISO 9001 is all about, here’s a very brief overview. 

ISO stands for international organization for standardization. IOS would have been difficult to pronounce as an acronym, and the word ISO means “equal” in ancient Greek (ἴσος), hence ISO. The purpose of ISO is to create quality management systems (QMS). Here’s a definition straight from the ISO 9001 Academy that we couldn’t possibly improve: 

An ISO 9001 definition would be that this standard provides the QMS requirements to be implemented for a company that wants to create all of the policies, processes, and procedures necessary to provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory needs and improve customer satisfaction. Quality management systems are the foundation of quality assurance activities.

ISO is not a legal requirement, but the seven QMS principles that form the basis of ISO 9001 will benefit your business in every manner and make it both customer-centric and profitable. Also, an ISO 9001 certification naturally increases your credibility and draws more clients. 

That said, getting an ISO 9001 certification is a costly and time-consuming process. True, it will invariably benefit you—not just in the long run but even when you are in the process of ensuring quality management for your business—but it is always best to be prepared. You could begin with this article on how an investment in ISO certification could be profitable for you. 

For the work instruction to be effective, you will need the kind of knowledge that comes only from experience in actually doing the work. If you were to create the work instruction after a board meeting employing mostly executive or administrative personnel, not much work would get done, at best. At worst, there could be fatal accidents on the floor. 

Here’s a sample of image-assisted work instruction:

This can be video-assisted or even created entirely using augmented reality. There is no end to how detailed or clear work instruction can be provided until you fulfil one condition: clarity. No matter what medium you use, the end-user or the worker must be able to comprehend fully what they are expected to do and how. 

Creating work instruction is not so much about what you are using as it is about how you prepare for it. For a really detailed discussion, please refer to our article exclusively on what work instructions are and how to create them for yourself. 

We have one on standard operating procedure, as well, that also shows you how to write an SOP on your own. 

5. Work Instruction vs SOP

Hopefully, at this point, you are clear about how an SOP is different from a WI. In this section, we’ll try to briefly summarize what we have learned so far. 

The following is an example of a real-life SOP:

How is each of these activities performed? How do you do pulp washing? How do you operate a barking machine? How do you inspect them before you run them? And what on earth is the vessel in question? How do you stand by a vessel? And perform a box-up checklist? That’s like saying “perform a shopping list” Or is it? 

If you want answers, if you need to make sense of whatever is described in this piece of paper called standard operating procedure, you will want someone to give you a work instruction for each of your queries. Sometimes, a single query may require more than one set of work instructions depending upon how complex the job is. 

We promised not to get repetitive with summing up what you’ve already read, but here’s something that demands repetition because it is at the core of what differentiates a work instruction from an SOP. Here goes: 

A standard operating procedure is an overview of all that needs to be done and outlines the most efficient manner of getting the job done. 

A work instruction explains the nitty-gritty of every single aspect (at least one work instruction for each aspect) of how to get the job done so that qualified (but not necessarily experienced) personnel (who are already listed in the SOP) can get it done in the most efficient manner possible. 

So, if you ever feel the need to ask yourself if you need one or the other, let’s examine in the concluding section how you can resolve that question.

6. Work Instruction or SOP?

work instruction or sop

Do you have a business that requires your employees to perform simple but repetitive tasks which do not require explicit instructions? A business that deals with transcriptions, for example, would need its employees to sit in front of a computer all day. 

Admittedly, the employees would be provided with instructions about how to format the transcriptions, but this is something they would know about already, before qualifying for the job. Maybe they’d have to learn some inhouse rules, but that’s about it. 

They’d also be given clear instructions about how to sit at the console without causing physical harm to themselves, how often to get up and unwind, and so on, but that’s employee safety protocol. 

The way we see it, there’s no real need for work instruction in this case. 

But you would certainly need an SOP if you wanted to get your projects completed efficiently and in a timely manner. 

Without it, you would not have a clearly demarcated plan about who gets assigned what, what the ideal deadlines ought to be for each department, whether the proofreading and editing should continue simultaneously as each individual piece of transcription is completed, or if the proofreader(s) and editor(s) should keep themselves busy with other assignments while the transcriptionists focus on getting all of their work done at one go without editorial intervention.

These and many more questions will be clearly answered in an SOP, making your job infinitely easier than if you decided simply to have a meeting with all concerned and get everything going as soon as possible. As far as we understand, this would be true for any project, any business, and even if you are a solopreneur: you’re better off with an SOP than without. 

So, as in most things in life, take a good look at yourself—and your business. Take your senior employees into confidence if necessary, think of what you really need, and then decide if you would like to work on SOPs or WIs or both. Remember that each will take time and effort which translates into money spent. It’s your business, and you’d be well advised to invest only in whatever promises to give you the most satisfactory returns.

We hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as we loved writing it. In case you have any questions, please don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know. If you found the article a good read, we’d love you to share it with whoever might find it interesting. 

And if you’ve opted for our free trial, well, see you on the inside, then!

The Best SOP and Work Instruction Software Handpicked for Your Business

Get Your Free Systemization Checklist

Systemize Checklist
5 Essential Steps To Getting a Task Out of Your Head and Into a System So You Can Scale and Grow Your Business!
Stop being the bottleneck in your company

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *