Management system guidance
What's the difference between a process and a procedure?
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What is a process, and what is a procedure?
What is a process?
Think of a process as the 'actions to get work done'. Usually, it's the work of interacting people, machines or other processes. Work applies to the resources and controls that change inputs into outputs. A process may have one or several procedures, which may or may not be documented, to control the work. In some cases, procedures may be so well understood by the people doing the work to make the procedure unnecessary.
Using a top-down approach, process maps and flow charts allow us to describe how the process is structured into a hierarchy of activities and to see the sequence of steps, as well the responsibilities for each step or task.
What is a procedure?
These days our work depends on effective interactions with other process teams, across several functions or departments, and with procedures and forms to control these process steps; value comes from using a set of standardized instructions.
A procedure is a type of document that describes the instructions and sequence for a specific task within a process. The content will vary depending on the size of your business, its activities, processes, products and services; the complexity and interactions of its processes, and the competence of personnel.
Operational procedures and forms, as well as; reports, work instructions, flow charts, process maps, signs, placards, drawings, schematics, container markings, labels, etc. are all valid examples of ‘documented information’. Ensure that your procedures, turtle diagrams and process maps are reviewed, approved, communicated and distributed so that they are known and understood within your organization.
What is a form?
A form is a type of document used to collect and record quality management system data as required by a procedure or task. A form, report or a log can become a 'record' when data are entered and saved. Records can be kept as paper forms or in electronic format, or in a combination of both.
An effective system of record-keeping ensures that all records are accessible whenever needed within a reasonable time. These records should be organised in such a way that ensures traceability and accessibility throughout the required retention period.
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