It is common for processes and procedures to be confused, but they do not mean the same thing. The definition of a process used by the Oxford dictionary describes the following statement: a process is the sequence of steps or actions aimed at obtaining a specific goal.
- What do we understand by each of these terms?
- Differences between processes and procedures.
- Examples of processes and procedures.
- Why is it important to differentiate process and procedure?
What do we understand by each of these terms?
From the point of view of workflows in companies, we can define a process as the scheme of instances necessary to execute a workflow, which implies that the presence of these steps responds to the scope of a general objective.
The processes comprise not only instances but also decision or control points and those responsible. Some examples of processes can be these:
- From request to charge.
- Acquisition of raw material.
- Billing and collection.
- Delivery of products and services.
The procedures instead are specific details that obey the processes and without which they could not exist. The procedures depend on the processes to exist, but these exist independently, and based on them the necessary procedures are created to carry out the instances of the process. Then, the procedures are aimed at meeting specific objectives, within the general objectives or at the macro level of the processes.
Differences between processes and procedures.
While processes pursue more general goals, procedures focus on accomplishing more specific goals or tasks. In addition, different people and areas take part in the processes to achieve the objective whereas in the procedures, usually, a single person or area of the company is responsible for the tasks that have to be carried out.
Therefore, procedures can be considered as the list of activities of a process and comprise two aspects or parts: the functions and the tasks. Functions point to the fulfillment of the general objectives of carrying out the procedure, while tasks are the actions to be carried out to fulfill the functions assigned within the procedure.
Comparison between process and procedure.
- They fulfill a common goal;
- They have stages;
- Several people from different areas of an organization are involved;
- Its execution is continuous;
- They are dynamic (change frequently);
- They originate from the need and the will to achieve a certain goal.
- They meet specific objectives;
- They have steps or tasks;
- They are carried out by a person or the same area;
- Its execution is discontinuous;
- They are static (usually do not change);
- They originate from the intention of wanting to carry out and complete a task through established guidelines (steps and clear objectives).
Examples of processes and procedures.
The execution of all the activities is called a process, while a procedure that is included is that of executing a specific task.
A first example can be the elaboration of a pizza. Since each type of pizza is prepared differently, cooks will follow a recipe that guides them to prepare it and it will be their production process or pizza manufacturing process, which contains a series of steps until the pizza is ready to eat.
At the same time, the recipe that has specific preparation instructions will be an effective procedure to prepare the pizza.
It is recommended that both the process and the procedure are documented, that is, written on paper or in digital format so that all members of the company can be aware of them. Next, we add more examples to differentiate a process from a procedure.
Recruitment and selection process.
In general, this process may include the following procedures:
- Personal requisition
This process refers to the series of stages that fulfill the objective of finding and connecting with customers to get them to make a purchase. These stages can be:
- Qualifying a prospect
- Make a proposal
- Negotiation / Objection handling
Why is it important to differentiate process and procedure?
The importance of establishing differences between a process and a procedure is useful to understand the nature and scope of each one. Thus, a process is a set of steps or stages that lead to an objective or goal, while a procedure is simply a part of that process. Even the terms seem to refer to different concepts: the process is what you do and the procedure is how you do it.
In addition, learning to differentiate a process from a procedure helps to understand why the process is more general and broad, while the procedure is more specific and has an individual character. In short, people from different areas that are part of a company can learn about the commercial process and generate actions to feed the sales funnel.
But the business process includes other tasks that already belong to the individual domain of each one. And as long as the objective of the process is fulfilled, the procedure with the combination of tasks can be carried out freely.
A process, then, is a set of activities aimed at fulfilling a specific goal, while a procedure is how a series of steps is defined to obtain a specific result. Being able to establish the difference between process and procedure allows us to better define each of these concepts and to know when we are working on a process and when we are carrying out the procedure of an individual task that is key for the process in general.