Writing work instructions together: the Case of the Unhappy Accountants

A manufacturer of artificial fibres had concluded a successful SAP implementation. Such a change in working practice affects the whole company. Unfortunately, the financial departments of the three working companies found it difficult to come to terms with the changes. Simple as the screens were, they were filled in incorrectly. This had potentially serious repercussions further down the line. Perhaps more importantly, general dissatisfaction with the new situation was slowly spreading.

What was achieved

Each individual accountant is now the owner of a complete set of working instructions, produced by their own hands. Changes in working procedures are reflected in the instructions almost immediately, by the people who are most affected by them. The working instructions are therefore always up-to-date. The accountants who use them take pride in their existence and feel personally responsible for their maintenance. They see the results of the new system and are willing to work with it. Also, they talk to each other (even across working companies) when problems arise, rather than nurturing unvoiced resentment.

What it took

The solution to both the knowledge management problem and the motivational problem turned out to lie in a team effort. For four months, on every Thursday, fifteen accountants from three working companies gathered at head office to write their own working instructions in what became affectionately known as "the school class". The Byte Ryte consultant tailored Word; drew up a set of writing guidelines; set up document management; channelled all the writing effort; provided editing and publishing services; and most importantly, provided constructive feedback and encouragement. Fifteen accountants did the rest and produced documentation of which any professional could be proud.