The terms “process” and “procedure” are often used interchangeably by operations managers. Are they the same thing?
There is a very close relationship between these two terms, and you may use them interchangeably.
However, a procedure is very different from a process. This article will explain how these two terms i.e. process vs procedure, are differentiated and how they relate.
In simple terms, a process is a series of related tasks that turns input into output. The procedure is a way of undertaking a process or part of a process.
A process describes a series of events leading to achieving a specific objective. A task overview is a summary of the actions included in it. A business process indicates the core business activity of any organization. For example, production process, management of a unit, service to a client etc.
A marketing process that is on a departmental level, for example, involves steps like planning, strategising etc.
A process normally operates at a higher level, may span many functions, and may cross departmental lines. There can be one or more procedures in a process or procedures from other processes may be referenced in a process. Procedures are further detailed in Work Instructions. Like an organization chart, processes, procedures, and work instructions can be expanded.
An organization’s business processes are represented in a process map. Procedures must be defined, documented, and maintained to control critical business processes. Below you will find a flow diagram showing the inputs and outputs for the Vendor Process.
When sales take an order, the revenue process begins. Inventory is pulled and the order is shipped. Orders do not become revenue until they go through collections and are converted from merchandise into cash. Sales, warehouse, and accounting all interact with the revenue Process.
When objectives are clearly defined, metrics are tracking how well the process achieves the objective, and actions are taken when objectives are not achieved, a process is in control.
Also Read: Top 10 Business Process Automation Benefits
Procedures describe exactly how to accomplish a task. Workers are provided with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to complete assigned procedures by following procedures.
The term procedure is sometimes replaced by the term “protocol”. A protocol is a set of operational procedures to ensure there is a proper way to do a procedure.
It may be helpful to think of processes as describing the “what” and procedures as answering the “how.”
Compliance procedures are required, and procedures enable the organization to reduce the cost of compliance, train employees, and retain key information. There may be only one procedure for describing a simple process. Multi-step processes, like the revenue process, are more complex.
To find out the answer to process vs procedure, let us look at an example.
Steve owns McDonald’s franchises at seven locations. Since franchises come with proven processes, Steve was attracted to the franchise business model. Customer orders are taken, relayed to cooks, and delivered when ready are examples of McDonald’s routine processes. As Steve strives to nurture steady streams of customers (outcome), he must put in some effort (input).
To produce dependable products, McDonald’s executives have spent countless hours developing trustworthy protocols (procedures). Steve uses many tools to write and digitize McDonald’s recommended equipment maintenance procedures. Steve also uses a corporate distribution system to train new employees and assign procedures.
As a result, his store supervisors and maintenance technicians always know precisely how to perform their duties. By automating preventive maintenance scheduling, parts management, and more, Steve saves 20 to 30 management hours per week.
This process involves the following steps:
Each of these steps has its procedure. This document outlines exactly how the employee should complete each process stage. It may be necessary, for example, to follow the following procedure when routing requests to appropriate reviewers:
In business, you want to get everything “right.” Even more so, you want your staff to get it right every time. If a process that turns inputs into outputs can be repeated, you can capture it so that your staff knows what to do and how to do it when it becomes repeatable.
There might be times when things don’t go as planned. Possibly a variable you didn’t plan for enters the equation. Or you discover that your thought-to-be watertight process does not have sufficient procedure information. Possibly you think you’ve discovered a more efficient way to do things.
You now have an opportunity to improve the process or procedure that isn’t working well. Has someone made a mistake? Were you not satisfied with the quality? What can you do to ensure it won’t happen again?
The use of procedures can result in:
Also Read: What is Process Mining? All You Need to Know
Insights gained from the documentation are invaluable.
Your employees can, for instance, be observed and recorded in various ways doing a certain task and you can extract the best practices from them. Combining these will result in an improved procedure.
You can also identify which processes are performing well and which aren’t by having detailed procedural information written down.
As a result, you will know how to improve the parts of the process that are underperforming.
It could be that you have to deal with a new obstacle, you found an error, or you just want to improve your efficiency. In addition to making all this visible, documentation allows the process to be continuously improved.
You can put all the procedures into a Google Doc and give access to everyone who needs them. To ensure that your employees have the latest version, you can simply ping them when you make changes to the document.
However, that can be a bit tedious. With workflow software, you can do more than just document your processes.
You can use such software to:
Employees can be guided through procedures using a variety of software tools. As a result, Quixy is the preferred software for documenting processes as simple as possible.
Using the platform, you can create checklists to describe your processes. Just sign up and on the left sidebar, you will input all of the process steps, and in the middle, you will be able to write or insert multimedia to explain the instructions in detail.
Once you’ve completed the procedure list, you can easily share it with your team, grant them access (to view or edit), and export it as Word or PDF files.
As a result, procedure documents can be created quickly and easily, allowing you to edit, export, and share them with anyone on demand.
With this knowledge, you now know exactly the difference between procedure and process or process vs procedure. In a nutshell,
Process automation in business delivers multiple benefits. It boosts efficiency by reducing errors and saving time, ensures consistency, supports scalability, enhances compliance, simplifies training and problem-solving, and improves customer service. Additionally, it generates valuable data for informed decisions and promotes innovation, enhancing overall competitiveness and adaptability in a dynamic business environment.
Procedures provide clarity, consistency, and efficiency. They ensure compliance, simplify training, promote accountability, aid problem-solving, and facilitate documentation. Moreover, procedures consolidate best practices and support ongoing process improvement.
Processes can exist without detailed procedures, but they may lack structure and consistency. Procedures, on the other hand, are often components within a larger process. While processes provide a high-level view of activities, procedures offer step-by-step instructions for specific tasks within that process.
Processes and procedures are interdependent. Processes outline the broader sequence of activities, while procedures define the specific steps or actions within those activities. Procedures support the overall process by ensuring consistency and adherence to standards.
One common misconception is that processes and procedures are the same. In reality, processes are broader, while procedures are more granular. Another misconception is that rigid procedures stifle creativity, but when appropriately designed, they enhance efficiency without hindering innovation. Lastly, some believe that documenting processes and procedures is unnecessary, neglecting their role in organizational clarity and performance improvement.
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