Self-Writing (almost) Video SOPs

Over the years, we’ve asked people if they love writing standard operating procedures (SOPs). Their answer is almost always NO !!!

SOPs (AKA work instructions or written procedures) are the lifeblood of standard work and continuous improvement. How can something that basic to operational excellence be so universally disliked? Is it because writing them is tedious and boring? Or because it is a distraction from “important” work? Or, maybe folks can’t be bothered reading and following them?

The following screenshots show a different breed of SOP. These are standard PDFs that link or embed “how-to” videos to reinforce the text instructions. You can watch the video, read the text and graphics … or just print the document. The instructions will be clear and complete.

Here is a working example from a factory setting.

If a task succeeds in the video, you know there is at least one valid way to perform the task. Even better, has developed fast and easy ways author these SOPs. Our process doesn’t (yet) handle every possible type of SOP, but it can make most of the ones that are routinely used in manufacturing plants, industrial facilities and distribution centers.

The surprise is that this type of SOP is often easy to make. The key is to start with a video of someone doing the task correctly. Write the SOP from the video, then tidy up the video and place it with the SOP to counterbalance any inconsistencies or confusions that creep into the written instructions. Which would you believe … the confusing written instruction or the video of someone succeeding at the task? Overall, the extra video handling time is largely offset by the simplified and more forgiving writing and checking chore.