The efficiency of your organization is hinged on many factors — from the way your employees work to the technology you use. In this rapidly digitizing world, one of the most important things you can do to ensure efficiency is to have robust workflows in place.
Work instructions, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or One-Point-Lessons (OPLs) provide structure and clarity in the way businesses accomplish tasks and achieve their objectives. They offer your workforce a clear and concise guide on how to navigate their day-to-day responsibilities. When done right, they can be a powerful tool to boost productivity, and ensure your employees are unified in their efforts and towards corporate targets. They are the glue that holds together all the moving parts of your enterprise and ensure that everyone is working towards the same purpose. But how can we make work instructions even more effective? It’s time to go fully digital.
What is a Digital Work Instruction?
We are entering a new era defined by digital transformation. Businesses across all industries are turning to technology to find elegant solutions to complex problems. With global supply chains increasing in intricacy and field operations becoming more and more data-driven, the need for digital instructions has never been greater.
Digital work instructions are process maps that use software to manage, guide and automate certain tasks. This means that instead of relying on paper forms or manual processes, businesses can use cloud-based/mobile applications and digital tools to translate how they function into actionable steps. Digital work instructions are human-centered and goal-orientated. Their purpose is clear: to make life easier for frontline employees and help businesses run more smoothly and in a standardized manner. They should also be highly adaptable, which means they can be quickly updated and tweaked to meet the ever-changing needs of modern businesses.
There was a time when work instructions were designed around the limitations of technology. This meant they were often inefficient, error-prone, and difficult to scale. But with the advent of new/improved software and limitless integration+automation possibilities, businesses can now create digital work instructions that are agile, efficient, and designed with the frontline end user in mind.
Frontline workers are facing an increasingly high-pressured work environment. They are expected to be faster, more accurate, and more productive than ever before. But at the same time, they are also being asked to do more with less. Staff shortages and budget cuts are a reality for many businesses, so it’s no surprise that employees are reporting record-breaking levels of stress. According to Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workforce report, 44% of employees stated that they had experienced a lot of stress during their previous workday. This means that the workforce of 2022 is under even more stress now than they were back in 2020 when the global pandemic first hit.
The reasons for this peak in stress levels are varied, but they all come back to one thing: businesses are expecting too much from their frontline employees without giving them the resources they need to succeed. This is where digital work instructions can make a monumental difference. From the moment an employee walks through the door, a digital instruction can provide clear and concise guideline on what needs to be done and how it should be accomplished on an on-demand and contextual basis. This takes the guesswork out of the equation and ensures that everyone is aligned with the operating guidelines and organization’s objectives. Wasteful activities and duplication of effort are eliminated, and employees are free to focus on what they do best — their job.
Deloitte reports that frontline employees spend, on average, 25% of their time looking for the information they need to perform their jobs, toggling between apps approximately 10 times over an hour. This results in 32 days of lost productivity per year, per employee. This unnecessary task-switching can be greatly reduced by centralizing all the information an employee needs within a single work instruction.
Digital work instructions facilitate the proliferation of knowledge, both within individual teams and across the entire organization. They provide a single source of truth that can be accessed by anyone, at any time, from anywhere in the world. This means that best operational practices can be quickly communicated and adopted by all employees, regardless of location. It also enables businesses to make real-time decisions based on accurate and up-to-date data. Additionally, they can automate some of the more mundane tasks that drain employee productivity, such as data entry, report preparation and distribution, data analytics and similar repetitive manual processes.
These low-value tasks are the bane of most employees’ existence. They are time-consuming, monotonous, and often leave workers feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. But with digital work instructions in place, these tasks can be easily eliminated. By unburdening your valuable frontline employees, you free them up to focus on more strategic missions that add value to the business. This not only improves engagement but also provides your frontline workforce with the breathing space they need to be more innovative and creative. Digital work instructions have the power to transform.
Technology has always been a key enabler of change, and digital work instructions are no different. In order to take full advantage of what they have to offer, businesses need to embrace the technology that makes them possible. Effective digital work instructions have four key characteristics as outlined below.
How to Implement Highly Effective Digital Work Instructions
From accounting, warehouse management, FSM, CRM to project management and HR, there are a multitude of systems that need to work in unison for the business to function effectively and efficiently. Siloed systems create islands of information that are difficult to access and even harder to get insights from. This is why your digital work instructions must be centered on an integrated platform that connects all of your business applications and data sources. Integration APIs make this possible by facilitating smooth communication between disparate systems.
Our world is in a constant state of flux, and enterprises need to be able to respond quickly to change. This means your work instructions must be flexible enough to accommodate new tasks, processes, conditional actions based on input data, and data sources. They should also be able to scale up or down to meet the fluctuating demands of the organization, the customers, clients, and the workforce.
Knowledge is worthless if it cannot be shared. The hard-won wisdom acquired through trial and error needs to be disseminated throughout the organization so that everyone can benefit from it before the older generation retires. The best digital work instruction platforms allow employees to capture and their experiences, and insights with each other. This can take the form of digital training programs, digital user manuals or collaborative knowledge bases.
Today’s workforce is unshackled from the physical constraints of the traditional office. But this means enterprises must provide their employees with mobile and even wearable solutions that allow them to access work instructions and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere, at any time. Whether a frontline worker is in the middle of completing an on-site repair or taking a business trip overseas for a site inspection, they should be able to access the same work orders, work instructions, and tools as they would if they were seated in front of a desktop computer at the office.
Taskimo‘s no-code mobile forms automation & digital work instructions platform enables enterprises to take full advantage of this digital transformation journey by enabling creation and dissemination of digital work instructions through mobile devices with no coding knowledge required. To learn more about how your business can benefit from digital work instructions & user manuals, schedule a free demo today.