Lean workplaces must agree upon standard work to run efficiently and continuously improve. Sometimes called standardized work, standard work is the set of rules and steps that dictate how a task should be performed. Standard work takes into account the equipment used in a process, the people involved, the amount of materials used, the inventory on hand, and the amount of time it takes to create products.
To determine the appropriate amount of time needed to complete a product, businesses should look at cycle time—the amount of time it takes to make a product—and takt time—the time this process should take to keep up with customer demand.
These details should be documented in a place where people can easily find them (checklists, posted instruction, signs/labels, manuals, etc.). These documents should be updated regularly.
In Lean, standards are not set in stone. They are the baseline that people should continuously seek to improve. Consequently, standard work is an important part of kaizen (continuous improvement). People looking to make changes to processes as part of a kaizen event or during daily tasks must know how work should be performed now in order to make it better.