Standard Work Procedures for Repeatable Excellence

November 27, 2023 Krystian Link

How do you get really good at something? You keep practicing over and over again. How do you stay good at something? You stick to a training plan where everything is written out for you to do. Standard work procedures, while not glamorous, are critical for teams to sustain a culture of excellence.  By minimizing wasted time and mistakes, a team can focus on maximizing efficiency and high-quality deliverables. 

What is a Standard Work Procedure? 

A standard work procedure is a document that lists out instructions to accomplish a certain task or series of tasks. They are typically written for high-repetition and/or high-complexity activities to ensure maximum consistency and accuracy. Not only is time saved while completing the task but also time is saved training new employees to do that task. As more standard work procedures are written, they become like training manuals or onboarding instructions as the team expands. 

Why Are Standard Work Procedures Important for Engineering Simulation Teams Specifically? 

While many simpler simulations don’t require a lot of model prep, more complex simulations relying on a variety of physics may require a more intricate and time-consuming setup. In the latter case, missing one critical step could be the difference between a stable, accurate solution and a head-scratching error. And while some rework, recalibrating, and adjustments are anticipated for any simulation activities, documenting that simulation into a standard work procedure eliminates a significant amount of trivial errors, forgetfulness, etc. At the end of the day, we are all still human. 

How to Identify Simulations that Make Great Candidates for Standard Work Procedures 

While having standard work procedures for all simulations would be the ideal scenario, every company’s product development cycle and product portfolio has a high degree of variability.  Some years may be focused on continuous improvement projects, clean-sheet products, or both. Therefore, reviewing your team’s historical simulation projects will be a good filter for identifying the most requested types of simulations and those that caused the greatest heartburn. Regarding the former, high-volume (ie, repetitive) simulations are a great first starting point for documentation. This will give your team flexibility when it comes to who is assigned that simulation project and a tighter timeline to completion when estimating the work.  These lead to greater team throughput, maximizing the company’s product development cycle efficiency.   

But what about the simulations that cause problems? Are they good candidates for standard work procedures? The answer is unequivocally yes. Even if they are requested infrequently, simulations that prove to be extremely complex, difficult to set up, or are tied to high-visibility projects have the power to bring even high-performing teams to a grinding halt. Even documenting one or two of these simulation projects will be a tremendous insurance policy for your team if and/or when the same request is made. Avoiding delays and unnecessary stress will make all the difference for your team, their productivity, and their mental well-being. 

Lastly, document the new simulations that your team is striving to learn about. Growing into new areas of expertise is much easier when they are documented in standard work procedures as opposed to on your coworker’s desktop sticky notes. It gives your team a starting point to make improvements as they grow in their knowledge of the subject area. Additionally, when onboarding new personnel, they don’t have to bother you with every detail of a simulation setup.  That’s a win for everyone. 

About the Author

Krystian Link

Krystian is a CFD application engineer at RandSim with over 10 years of product development experience in the automotive and manufacturing industries. His simulation experience focuses on vehicle thermal management, external aerodynamics simulations, and HVAC systems, including a publication in SAE’s Journal of Commercial Vehicles ("CFD Windshield Deicing Simulations for Commercial Vehicle Applications"). After completing his MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Krystian became even more passionate about building and implementing strategic solutions that not only address customers’ simulation needs, but also their business goals.

Follow on Linkedin More Content by Krystian Link
Previous Article
Is High-Performance Computing Right for Your Company?
Is High-Performance Computing Right for Your Company?

While people who work with simulation software may be familiar with it, many incorrectly think that it is o...

Next Article
Happy Holidays: Simulation Greatest Hits of 2023
Happy Holidays: Simulation Greatest Hits of 2023

We've put together a stocking stuffer full of simulation holiday cheer—The Greatest Hits album from 2023! W...


Have Questions?
Just Ask.

First Name:
Last Name:
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!