The misconceptions of standard work throughout the consulting sector is staggering. Standard work is not merely written work instructions. Standard work is the application of the proper resources to the appropriate workload. It is the standard by which we can measure productivity and also allocate the proper resources to assure efficiency.

The simple portion of standard work is the visual written work instructions to all elements of the business. The instructions should assure that all personnel could complete the tasks with little or no training. While that is simplistic in nature and assumes there are no skill levels required for tasks, it is a goal that if not attainable can be closely assimilated. When we think of standard work instructions, we think of the operational ends of the business as it is a simple interpretation. For these work instructions, we should have step by step instructions stating the tools required, quality requirements necessary, critical features identified and visuals to assure interpretation is correct. However, the implementation goes greater than the operational end of the business. The application should include all interests including, procurement and the appropriate decision trees for a make /buy decision, financial reporting to assure consistency during attrition, management practices for capital ROI decisions and headcount allocations, sales with standards for meaningful profit margins, maintenance for continuous allocation of resources, quality for standardization of inspection standards, and many other elements that are necessary for the business. If these instructions rely on IT functions, screen shots should be part of the standard work.

As we assimilate the standards, we then need to look at our value stream maps to assure that the standard times for operations are level loaded through the production cycle. Once we have a level loaded value stream, we then can calculate the resources necessary for the volume increases and decreases. Our value stream should engulf more than a statement of operations and work tasks and should include the min/max of personnel and shift allocations, resources necessary to support those functions, and standards for operational efficiency. Finally, the value stream maps should then include a standard work contingency for each operational failure that can occur. Once those failure points are established, a risk level needs to be assigned to them. We can then prioritize the contingency plan development needs.

Standard work is ever evolving and is the backbone for predicable production and financial success. Implementation of standard work must grow with the evolving culture change to a leaner environment. The culture must understand that standardization does not threaten their job security as they define tasks, but allows them to spend their resources on creativity and strategic development. We must be patient with the evolution of standard work. If the workforce embraces the conceptual, we will actualize the benefits in a shorter time span.