How to Simplify + Standardize Tasks with IPO (Input, Process, Output)
IPO is the perfect way to write tasks so that supervisors can supervise, trainers can train, employees can consistently perform that task the “same” way, and HR Representatives or Owners can easily evaluate jobs for complexity or reclassification.
Instructions for writing tasks:
1. Make a list of each task (daily and periodic);
2. List the steps below each task, and
3. Write each task/step in the IPO format, using action verbs.
1. I = Input, “Where does it come from?”
2. P = Process, “How is it handled?” and
3. O = Output, “Where is it sent once it has been processed?”
For example, when an accounting clerk receives a client’s payment in the mail, the task might be written as follows:
Often on-the-job trainers use “shortcuts” to train, because they are familiar with the job and don’t recognize the importance of each step. For a new person, this can be deadly, causing problems down the road. This method forces the task writer to think about each step, making it easier to identify when a step or process has been omitted.