Difference between Procedures and Work Instructions

There is an argument in the office right now about the difference between Procedures and Work Instructions. I’ll give you my take later but wanted to run one definition by you first.

Definition of Work Instruction

One definition is as follows:

  • Procedures – tell you Who does What When.
  • Work Instructions – tell you how to do something at a more granular level.

For me, that’s part of it but there’s more. For example,

What goes into a Work Instruction that doesn’t go into the Procedure Manual and
What goes into the Procedure Manual that is different than the Work Instruction.

The Hierarchy of Procedures

One way I see this is as a pyramid.

You have:

  1. Core Procedures that apply to all employees, e.g. Timekeeping, Security, Confidentiality, across all business units.
  2. System Procedures that cover procedures across a business function, eg how to install server
  3. Work Instructions that are the most granular set of instructions, eg how to apply a patch to a server, how to attach a wing mirror to a car.

Over to you.

When you’re writing Work Instructions, how do you present the information so that it works by itself? I assume many WIs are ripped out and use on-site and literally in the field.

I’m new to this area of documentation, so please jump in.