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Process vs Procedure Templates
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What is the Difference between Process and Procedure?

When looking to improve your organization’s processes and its procedures it is important to understand the difference between the two. Essentially, it is a difference of breadth versus depth. If you improve a process you are improving the bigger picture of your company, and you are looking at the bigger elements and core principles of your organization. A procedural improvement is much smaller. In improving a procedure, you are improving a smaller piece of your organization and you might be looking at objectives or methods. 

It is also the difference between surface-level and a more detailed approach. A process is looked at by management and higher-level employees, whereas a procedure can be improved by the workers in the weeds of the business carrying out the day-to-day tasks. 

Now that you know the difference, you can look at what area of your organization needs the most improvement, process or procedure.

Why do you need to know the difference between Process and Procedure?

By learning the difference between process and procedure you can accurately assign tasks to your team. You will now know the specific task you want to improve and you will know who the best member of your team is to complete that task.

You would not want a CEO improving procedures when a lower-level employee is perfectly suited to do so. But, you also would not want an entry-level employee improving and evaluating the higher-level processes of your organization. 

Evaluating the difference of process vs procedure is the first time in your new project to start collecting data. Look at this as step 1 of your process (or procedure) improvement. You cannot start a project without knowing the difference

What if you do not understand the difference between Process and Procedure?

If you do not know the difference, your project is going to get off on the wrong track immediately. You will have the wrong people assigned to the wrong tasks, which is going to cost more money and cause delays in your project completion. And, you might not even get the project completed correctly. 

Not understanding the difference between process and procedure can have detrimental effects to your organization as the scope of your project will be off kilter. Do not set out to change a major process when you really only needed to improve a minor procedure. 

Without understanding the difference between process and procedure, you and your team cannot accurately and efficiently improve the project that requires assistance. 

How do you learn the difference between Process vs Procedure?

Be careful not to get confused with what concept you are analyzing. Some people mix up the difference of process vs project with difference of process vs procedure. Procedures are also usually referred to in a company’s Standard Operating Procedures or its Department Operating Procedures, whereas the overall process is just defined in an organization’s overall goals and objectives.

The main difference is that procedures and processes have different goals. A procedure is looking at such a small task it cannot possibly also consider the bigger picture, and that’s what a process is for. There are more resources online to help you learn the difference between process vs procedure.

After you begin to understand the differences, begin thinking about it in terms of your own organization. What are your company’s processes? What are the procedures, and do you know how to locate the Standard Operating Procedures that govern how your team conducts business?

You could look into if your company offers any Green Belt or Black Belt training and certification. Getting this certification will help you complete any process or procedure improvement that your company requires. If you do not have this certification, it is possible that somebody else in your organization does, and he might be able to help continue your education on the difference of process vs procedure. 

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Learning the difference of Process vs Procedure is not that complicated. (Source)

What information do you need to learn about Process vs Procedure?

There is also another category, you could also be looking at Work Instruction. This is an even more fine-tuned option, as it is a detailed instruction telling you how to do a certain job. In order to differentiate between all of these options, you will want to know a few things.

  • Who are the key stakeholders involved?
  • What level of detail are the documents going into?
  • Specific project goals.

Level of detail

The easiest way to decipher what type of project you are dealing with is to learn the level of detailed required in the task. Are you overhauling a company’s mission statement? Or are you overhauling the way the company performs a specific task like ordering parts? The former would be a process and the latter would be a procedure, or possibly a work instruction. 

Look at the why. Why are you working on an improvement task? Is it for the overall goals of the company or is it for the goals of a specific group or team within the company? That’s another indicator of process vs procedure. 

Knowing the details of the project at hand will help you easily tell the difference between process and procedure. 

Specific Project Goals

Now that you’ve thought about the big picture, what is this specific project going to accomplish? What are the measurable metrics you will achieve when you are done? You can utilize a tool like this Project Management Checklist to ascertain the specific needs and goals of your project, which will help you know the difference of process vs procedure. 

Stakeholder Information 

Stakeholders are also a clear indicator of if you are working with a process or a procedure. Who are the key players? If CEOs and directors are interested in this project, then you are probably working with a process. If you are working with lower-level employees who are just trying to improve their day-to-day jobs then you are probably working with a procedure.

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Process vs Procedure is going to help you decide how to best accomplish the task at hand. (Source)

How do I move forward with either a Process or a Procedure?

The ultimate goal in understanding the difference between process and procedure is so you can know how to best accomplish a task. One of the first tasks you will want to complete is to define project goals and objectives

Knowing how to define goals is key to success, and you cannot truly define the goals without knowing the bigger picture of process vs procedure. Why you want to differentiate is because your business will struggle if you are unable to define the tasks. You will get caught up and off track, and the scope of your project will suffer if you do not have intentions and goals clearly defined. 

The decision of process vs procedure is best made when you are first starting out, so that you can create the best plan of attack for your business. 

The general rule

Do not start a project, procedure, process, or work instruction improvement without first understanding which of those you are actually working on. You will waste time, money, and your project will not be as successful unless you have a narrowed scope and a firm understanding of what you need to accomplish.

Other things to consider

Find out if anybody else in your organization has dealt with anything similar and already decided between process vs procedure. Don’t do more work than you need to, and if you already have a resource on staff that can help you, make sure you utilize that person. 

After considering all of this information, you should be all ready to move forward with your understanding or process vs procedure. When in doubt, there are more resources online that can help you. 

Utilizing Timeline Templates To Assess Procedure or Process

Used correctly, blank timeline templates should communicate to team members and other members of the company the milestones, boundaries and overall outline of pertained ongoing business projects. In realizing what aspects of the project are more important than others, it will become more clear as to whether the certain step should be considered as a process or procedure. In determining a process, blank timeline templates could be used to;

  • Go Into Details About Project Aspects and Certain Roles
  • Look At Bigger Pictures Of The Business Process
  • Assign Specific Roles And Assignments For The Process

As a procedure varies from a process, utilizing a timeline template to assess procedures can still be very useful. Implementing timeline templates for procedures can help to:

  • Assign Roles To Different Teams
  • Go Over Broad Views Of The Business Project At Hand
  • Analyze Day-To-Day Tasks For Team Members To Carry Out

Filling out and analyzing timeline templates can be more than useful for properly carrying out roles in procedures vs roles in entire processes. 

Using SOPs To Determine Process vs. Procedure

Overall, the main difference in process and procedures lies in how much detail is involved with each, and to what extent it reaches out to. Most commonly, standard operating procedures are used to assess the need in long term goals, but can still feasibly be used to visualize and display the tasks needed to be done by team members on a less detailed, day to day basis. Standard operating procedures are more or less used to help companies gain a forward way of thinking, and to help them become more sustainable. 

Different types of standard operating procedures could be considered more effective for some uses rather than others that may present themselves. A simple step format could be used to show the needs of a common procedure, whereas more detailed formats such as hierarchical steps can be used to bring comprehension to whoever it is being presented to, ultimately bringing them up to speed with the bigger idea of the ongoing business project / process. 

Analyzing Customer Feedback To Delegate Process Or Procedure Responsibilities

Bringing light to which aspects of business the company is being complained to most about by their customers helps the company focus on what aspects they truly need to improve upon. In some cases, the issue may not be so serious, and doesn’t require a change in the companies fundamental way of thinking. On the other hand, the amount of customer complaints being drawn to the same aspect can raise concerns, and can call for a revamp of the way the business currently carries out their operations in this aspect. 
Issuing out and listening to customer feedback forms can help companies in deciding what areas need improvement the most. If an excessive level of detail is involved, it would be recommended to carry out a business process, where the bigger picture of the companies intentions are involved. If it happens to be a minor complaint, it can likely be fixed by one team with a simple procedure.

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