Glossary Definition: Digital Work Instructions

What are digital work instructions?

As the name suggests, digital work instructions are electronic versions of work instructions. They detail exactly how to perform a specific task, and may include rich visual images, videos, diagrams, augmented and/or mixed reality experiences for real-time guidance.

The purpose of digital work instructions is to provide workers with a step-by-step framework to successfully (and safely) complete individual tasks. Due to their digital nature, these instructions are typically accessed via mobile and/or wearable devices, tablets, and computers.

‍Who uses digital work instructions?

A number of tech-savvy industries rely on digital work instructions to streamline processes.

These industries include, but are not limited to:

  • Food and beverage
  • Chemical products
  • Medical devices
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Healthcare support
  • Semiconductors
  • Electrical equipment 

What are other names for digital work instructions?

Digital work instructions are also known by several other names.

Synonyms for digital work instructions include:

  • Smart work instructions
  • Electronic work instructions 
  • Digitized work instructions 
  • Digital work instructions software
  • Workflow instructions
  • Electronic workflow instructions

These terms are interchangeable and all refer to a set of digital or electronic instructions. 

What are digital work instructions in pharma?

Digital work instructions in pharma are instructions that outline how to manufacture specific drugs and/or carry out peripheral activities such as laboratory instrument standardizations, daily checks of scales, room clearance, and cleaning. 

These electronic instructions serve four primary purposes:

  1. Helping workers maintain compliance 
  2. Streamlining data capture and tracking 
  3. Guaranteeing the quality of the final product
  4. Removing the need for paper for data capture and confirmation

Pharma digital work instructions include standard operating procedures (SOPs) to follow, regulatory requirements (Current Good Manufacturing Practices or cGMP/cGLP), and detailed manufacturing and laboratory guidelines.

Life science professionals leverage these smart instructions to optimize frontline processes, improve manufacturing and/or laboratory operations, connect and collaborate in real time, and ensure drug quality and purity. Empowered with the necessary details and steps, pharmaceutical manufacturers can do their jobs faster and with greater accuracy at each lifecycle phase and manufacturing stage.

How do you create digital work instructions in pharma?

Thanks to Pharma 4.0, which is revolutionizing the pharma industry, creating digital work instructions in pharma is simple and straightforward. 

Instead of manually transcribing processes, workers can leverage plug-and-play systems. This allows them to easily drag and drop workflow guidelines, media files, and SOPs, and also lets users author instructions with no coding experience required.

To learn more about how to go digital throughout the drug lifecycle, read our articles on digitization during preclinical research and clinical development.

Why are digital work instructions important for pharma?

Digital work instructions are necessary for pharma companies because they provide detailed guidelines for how to produce and manufacture a specific therapy. Additionally, these instructions outline regulatory requirements to ensure workers remain compliant every step of the way.

The benefits of leveraging electronic work instructions in pharma include:

  • Less waste
  • Increased productivity
  • Faster, safer manufacturing
  • A digital record of work done
  • Greater data accessibility and control
  • Comprehensive, interactive guidelines
  • Structured workflows

Without these instructions, it would be difficult (at best) for workers to effectively collaborate, optimize setup, cleaning, periodic workflows, and repeatedly produce specific drugs. Instead, human errors would likely plague the drug development lifecycle, leading to costly delays, resource waste, and potentially unsafe products.

Electronic work instructions support safe, effective manufacturing. These smart instructions use modern technology to help users navigate complex workflows.

By leveraging text, video, images, diagrams, mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR), manufacturers are adopting digital work instructions to optimize their drug production from start to finish.