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Help! What the difference between a policy, procedure, SOP?


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#1 birmingham2000

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 09:12 PM

I've been at a company for a week and I've been tasked with the job of re-writing the BRC Quality Manual to cover all clauses in the standard.

Over the past 2 years I've seen 5 difference QM's which all have 3/4 folders titled policy/procedures, SOP's or Work instructions, forms, schedules.

Now i understand that the SOP's are basically a step by step guide to be taken into production (how to do it). The forms are blank forms to be filled in and the third folder contains the policy /procedure which I think is a more detailed version of an SOP (what we do). While schedules are pre planned tasks.

My new boss keeps questioning why we need so many folders, and as i've always done it this way, I thought it was normal.

So can anyone help me out with definitions, especially the difference between a Procedure and an SOP?

Do you agree that an SOP is a simplified, idiot proof training guide, whereas a procedure is the more detailed info required in the standard

Whats the definition of a Policy.

Might seem basic questions, but i hope you can clear my confusion


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#2 Martinblue

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 10:53 AM

Dear birmingham2000,

IMO SOPs and procedures are two titles for same sort of documents,some call them SOP and other procedure.
Policies are kind of umbrella documents that outline the core objectives of the company, e.g Allergen Policy ; telling what is the stand of company on allergen then they should have SOP/procedure explaining how these allergens will be controlled.

i hope that helps.

regards

martinblue


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#3 Zeeshan

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

I've been at a company for a week and I've been tasked with the job of re-writing the BRC Quality Manual to cover all clauses in the standard.

Over the past 2 years I've seen 5 difference QM's which all have 3/4 folders titled policy/procedures, SOP's or Work instructions, forms, schedules.

Now i understand that the SOP's are basically a step by step guide to be taken into production (how to do it). The forms are blank forms to be filled in and the third folder contains the policy /procedure which I think is a more detailed version of an SOP (what we do). While schedules are pre planned tasks.

My new boss keeps questioning why we need so many folders, and as i've always done it this way, I thought it was normal.

So can anyone help me out with definitions, especially the difference between a Procedure and an SOP?

Do you agree that an SOP is a simplified, idiot proof training guide, whereas a procedure is the more detailed info required in the standard

Whats the definition of a Policy.

Might seem basic questions, but i hope you can clear my confusion


SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is a written document or instruction detailing all steps and activities of a specific operation/process/part of a system. For example I've never heard anywhere the phrase "SOP of Procurement" rather I always encounter "Procedure of Procurement". Hence "Procedure" is a written document detailing all inter-related groups of activities of specific system - such as system of document control, system of procurement, system of storage and distribution. A procedure of procurement should have a detail of group of activities like supplier evaluation & approval activities, purchasing activities, supplier monitoring activities etc. On other hand there could be an SOP for operating a machine, an SOP for cleaning & sanitizing work area, an SOP for testing and releasing end product. However sometimes you may use the terms Procedure/SOP interchangeably for writing a document for specific system or activity such as Foreign Body Control. Title "SOP for Foreign Body Control" and "Procedure for Foreign Body Control" both sounds logical.

Defining "Policy" is very simple. Policy is a written/non-written piece of information that shows the intention to do some thing. For example Quality Policy shows intentions and directions of an organization with respect to Quality. Policy for Foreign Body Control shows intentions and directions of company or related departments with respect to foreign body control. Remember policy statement does not contain detail how do you perform the activities. That is statement of Policy for Foreign Body Control does not contain the detail how you control the foreign body on shop floor or in the end product. It only outlines the directions or framework of control on the basis of which you may draft your SOP or procedure.

Hope it become clear now.

Regards:
M.Zeeshan
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#4 trubertq

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:18 AM

I understand cpmpletely where you are coming from.... here's what I did...


Policys = Quality Manual.... this is based on GS5/6 basically take each section and describe the policy your company has for each issue. There are no details in here, just what the policy is, and then at the bottom of each policy reference the SOP/Procedue and the record used to capture the data for that policy.

Procedure: I usually call procedures the ones that are not part of the actual process, e.g Glass breakage procedure, recall procedure.


SOP : are the work instructions for the personnel out on the floor.... e.g. how to use the metal detectors, how to inspect, how to use the cooker...

A tip I got from someone was to use your SOP s as a training document and get your operator to sign it ... this leaves no room for questions about whether they are trained to their work station or not.



Hope this helps...



by the way and for your managers information , I have 8 manuals...lol

HACCP manual

Quality manual

SOP manual

Records manual

Prerequisite manual

Waste/ waste disposal manual

Specifications manual

Cleaning manual


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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:57 AM

Dear birmingham,

With respect to “Procedure” and “SOP”, you can find an explanation / interpretation from every point under the sun. Basically it’s semantics. :smile:
People like ISO define what they think the terms mean so others can quote them if they agree. I’m sure you are familiar with the ISO triangle structure: Policy / Procedure / Work Instructions , WIs = SOPs = some SSOPs = some PRPs = geographically ad infinitum). Of course if you wish to be an individualist, you can make up yr own definitions but auditors trained via ISO are maybe likely to be a bit confused / irritated.

For “Policy”, I previously could not find a specific ISO definition despite ISO's own usage of the term. Maybe others here can do better. :smile:

Try these threads / posts –

http://www.ifsqn.com...dpost__p__21237

http://www.ifsqn.com...dpost__p__41814

Rgds / Charles.C


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#6 Antores

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 05:20 PM

Dear Birmingham..

This site is full of resources for policies and procedures. While their business is to sell policies and procedures, there are tons of useful articles and resources, from the difference betwen policies and procedures, to how to write them right. This link redirects to the difference between policies and procedures, but feel free to go to the "Articles and Blog" section and look for other intersting subjects. If you want to subscribe you will receive articles via e-mail.

http://www.bizmanual...-procedure.html


Edited by Antores, 20 September 2011 - 05:22 PM.

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#7 Charles.C

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:44 AM

Dear Birmingham..

This site is full of resources for policies and procedures. While their business is to sell policies and procedures, there are tons of useful articles and resources, from the difference betwen policies and procedures, to how to write them right. This link redirects to the difference between policies and procedures, but feel free to go to the "Articles and Blog" section and look for other intersting subjects. If you want to subscribe you will receive articles via e-mail.

http://www.bizmanual...-procedure.html

Dear Antores,

It's an interesting linked page but, IMHO, it is also a masterpiece of confusion.

eg "A policy communicates an organization’s principles"
Very profound. Unfortunately nowhere does it explain what it means by "principles".


eg "Procedure Policy" !!! 2 combined confusions are better than one ?. :smile:

Nonetheless, it is an interesting read if you can get through it. Thks.

Rgds / Charles.C
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Charles.C


#8 birmingham2000

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:50 PM

I understand cpmpletely where you are coming from.... here's what I did...


Policys = Quality Manual.... this is based on GS5/6 basically take each section and describe the policy your company has for each issue. There are no details in here, just what the policy is, and then at the bottom of each policy reference the SOP/Procedue and the record used to capture the data for that policy.

Procedure: I usually call procedures the ones that are not part of the actual process, e.g Glass breakage procedure, recall procedure.


SOP : are the work instructions for the personnel out on the floor.... e.g. how to use the metal detectors, how to inspect, how to use the cooker...

A tip I got from someone was to use your SOP s as a training document and get your operator to sign it ... this leaves no room for questions about whether they are trained to their work station or not.



Hope this helps...



by the way and for your managers information , I have 8 manuals...lol

HACCP manual

Quality manual

SOP manual

Records manual

Prerequisite manual

Waste/ waste disposal manual

Specifications manual

Cleaning manual


I'm glad to read your reply, because I was thinking along the same line for Procedures and SOP's. Although my boss doesn't agree and prefers the word 'work instructions' to SOP's (in my opinion they are the same dam thing), its annoying as I've been in the job for a month and the constant discussing of the meaning of individual words undermines me and make me look incompetent to my QC's! But as Charles said - its semantics!
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#9 trubertq

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:16 PM

I'm glad to read your reply, because I was thinking along the same line for Procedures and SOP's. Although my boss doesn't agree and prefers the word 'work instructions' to SOP's (in my opinion they are the same dam thing), its annoying as I've been in the job for a month and the constant discussing of the meaning of individual words undermines me and make me look incompetent to my QC's! But as Charles said - its semantics!



Life is too short to be discussing what the docs are called... In my experience choose your battles, if he wants 'em called work instructions so be it..some people don't like changeIf you are going to be administrating the manual(s) ( and there will be multiple, you can't fit everything into one) let him have this and then do the rest as you wish....
Just my thoughts , but then I am a consultant, I leave at lunch time, and charge them for the arguing time lol :clap:



If you want a sneaky look at my manual pm me and I'll see what I can do

Edited by trubertq, 28 September 2011 - 08:17 PM.

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