Procedure vs. Process

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Compare the following procedure and process for making an omelette.

A procedure outlines a sequence of steps and says what should be done without reference to who performs individual steps; the process introduces the performers, who may be defined in terms of roles or individuals according to context.

This is part of a procedure for making an omelette,

Step 1: Open fridge

Step 2: Collect 1 dozen eggs

Step 3: Collect mixing bowl >=1L capacity

Step 4: Break eggs into bowl

Step 5: Beat eggs…

This is part of the omelette making process that implements the omelette-making procedure in the context of a small non-domestic kitchen with two staff roles, the Cook and the Kitchen Assistant.

Step 1: Kitchen Assistant opens fridge

Step 2: Kitchen Assistant collects 1 dozen eggs

Step 3: Kitchen Assistant collects mixing bowl >=1L capacity

Step 4: Kitchen Assistant gives bowl & eggs to Cook

Step 5: Cook breaks eggs into bowl

Step 6: Cook beats eggs…

Notice that Step 4 in the process is a new step that deals with a change in performer, which can only occur when performers have been specified. A process is therefore necessarily more detailed insofar as it must deal with changes of performer. The orchestration of a process therefore includes management of roles and individuals.

ISO Alignment

Note that according to ISO, process is whatever actually happens and procedure is the documented description of a process. One can ask (in ISO terms) what the process for something is without there necessarily being a procedure for it, but if the question is answered (i.e. other than by pointing at the process in progress) a procedure will have been created (though it may not be formal.)

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