Work Instructions

Skill level: Basic


Work instructions present a sequence of steps to execute a task or activity. The format is typically text, but a visual depiction of the steps can also constitute work instructions. Additionally, hyperlinks are often included. A mix of text, hyperlinks, and pictures are also included in documenting the process steps.      


  • Serves as a handy reference for training new employees, for tasks that are performed infrequently, or for potential promotions
  • Promotes consistency in execution of work
  • May be required for certification or accreditation with third parties, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the Joint Commission and Healthcare Facility Accreditation Program
  • Useful when you have a frequent turnover of part-time helpers

How to Use

Step 1.  Determine the activity that needs to be documented.

Step 2.  Determine the education and skill level of the target audience that will be accessing the instructions. For example, instructions for a target audience of seasoned certified public accountants (CPAs) will assume a level of accounting knowledge that is higher than a first-year college intern performing the same accounting activity. 

Step 3.  Develop a format for the work instructions. This may include the name of the author, the name of the document, the date of the document, the purpose of the instruction, and related references and forms.

Step 4.  Develop the work instructions. Ensure proper flow and use clear language and/or pictures.

Step 5.  Test the work instructions by allowing someone who is unfamiliar with the task, but has the level of knowledge for the target audience, perform the activity by using the work instructions.

Step 6.  Publish the work instructions and ensure there is a process to keep it up to date and that there is an owner for the work instructions for accountability.

Relevant Definitions



Below is an example of a work instruction format for a refund process at ACME Insurance.

ACME Insurance        Subject:          Ten-Day Free Looks
                               Revision:        C
                               Effective Date: September 18, 2010
                               Page 1 of 1

Ten-Day Free Look Refunds

1.0    Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is to provide a system of instructions and to assign responsibilities for:

1.1         Proper processing of “ten-day free looks.” (TDFLs)

2.0    Scope

This procedure applies to term, universal life, variable life, and whole life policies issued in the United States.

3.0    Associated documents

3.1         TDFL authorization form—doc # TDFL.AF.1c

3.2         TDFL refund log # TDFL.RL.2b

3.3         TDFL log—doc # TDFL.Log.1d


4.1    Detach TDFL authorization from the policy.

4.2    Ensure the TDFL authorization form is properly completed and the authorization is signed. If it is not signed, refer to “TDFL reprocessing” work instructions. 

4.3    Check the balance on the policy account in the MARS system.

4.4    Authorize a refund for the amount listed in MARS to the address of record.

4.5    Complete the refund log.

4.6    Complete the TDFL log and file the TDFL authorization form and the policy.


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