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What’s the difference between a policy, process and procedure?

by | 28 Mar, 2019 | Process

Seems like a simple question, right? And yet debating terminology is a recurring issue in our strategy meetings. We can easily decide on the functionality to create within our platform, but deciding what to call it is a whole other challenge.

So, policy, process and procedure…

Let’s start with a boring dictionary definition:

Policy: “a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organisation or individual.”

Process: “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.”

Procedure: “an established or official way of doing something.”

Clear? Thought not. To provide that all-important clarity we probably need the guidance of an ‘expert’ in this space. Someone that, like us, has spent hours debating the difference between a task and a process.

Here’s what a couple of our competitors say:

Policy: “the guidelines or laws that drive the processes/procedures”

Process: “a high level view”

Procedure: “providing the detail”

It’s brief and simple, but still not really clear. So what about this:

Policy: “the overall guidelines”

Process: “the flows of activity”

Procedure: “the detailed instructions of steps”

Nice! Clear, succinct…but I fear it’s still not quite right.

The ultimate definition of a policy, process and procedure…

IT DOESN’T MATTER.

That’s right. It really doesn’t matter what policy, process and procedure means because ultimately they all mean the same thing – they are the ‘rules’ by which we run our businesses.

And just as your customer onboarding process is different to my customer onboarding process, is different to every other company’s customer onboarding process, the words we use to describe the way our businesses operate are different.

Ultimately, all that matters is that things (whatever you call them) are done the same way, every time, by everyone. And that’s exactly what Process Bliss does…

How Process Bliss manages your policies, processes and procedures

Process Bliss manages your policies, processes and procedures in three simple ways:

1) Creates templates

Process Bliss documents the way your organisation operates. Through templates, you can record all the necessary steps, attaching useful information and relevant documentation.

2. Complete tasks

Every time your template is put into action, users are automatically notified that they need to do something. And when complete, they simply tick it off.

3. Track progress

Through the simple reports you can see every instance a template has been used, if it was completed as you intended, or whether users encountered any issues.

Define the way your business runs

Here we’ve talked about policies, processes and procedures, but there are plenty of other words we’ve spent hours debating: task, checklist, to-do list, action, step, template, task management software, process management software, process enablement software, business process management, business process re-engineering…

The list goes on, and on…and on.

We’re interested to learn more about the terminology you use to describe the way your business operates (we’re hoping you can help us reach a consensus to make our job easier!).

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