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Process? Procedure?


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#1 Simon

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 12:25 PM

I was recently asked what the difference was between a procedure and a process. The only thing that sprung to mind was that a procedure is the written word and a process is a diagram - doh!

Is there a difference?
When would you use one over the other?
Can anyone provide a useful explanation?

Regards,
Simon


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#2 CONSUMER

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 05:14 PM

Hi Simon,
Here is my twopence worth.

My understanding of the two would be;
The procedure (being written) explains how to do something
and the process is the act of doing it.


I am sure someone else has a more profound explanation than I !!!
Kind Regards
Aisling


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#3 Simon

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 08:44 PM

Hi Aisling,

Congratulations on making the 100th post on the forum - your prize has been sent to you by first class mail.

It's embarrassing when as a so called 'expert' you are asked a straightforward question and you can't provide a credible answer - I guess that's what the forums for.

Anyway your explanation slaps mine round the chops - I'm still not sure though...

For example if you were trying to instruct somebody on how to make a cup of tea you could use either a step-by-step written procedure or a process flowchart to explain how to do it, therefore no difference.

I'm confusing myself here - how about you?

Simon

:huh:


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#4 Mike S.

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 03:03 PM

How 'bout this:

Process: Steps or activities that turn inputs into outputs, i.e. one process of making bread might be the input is mixed dough and the output is baked bread. Notice in the above example the input of that process is the output of a previous process, which might be the input is flour, water, and yeast and the output is mixed dough. Inputs to one process are often the output of another.

Procedure: Describes how to perform all or part of a process, i.e. the procedure for mixing dough - including the recipe, or the procedure for filling breadpans with mixed dough.

Make sense?

Mike S.


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#5 Simon

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 08:08 PM

It makes perfect sense. I like your definition of a process 'steps or activities that turn inputs into outputs'. But if your procedure covered the inputs, activities and outputs it too would be a process.

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Simon


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#6 Mike S.

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 09:28 PM

Quote: "But if your procedure covered the inputs, activities and outputs it too would be a process."

Not really. A process transforms something. A procedure cannot and does not transform anything, but it tells you how to do it. If a procedure is detailed enough it could describe the process, but a procedure cannot BE a process.

Regards,
Mike


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#7 Simon

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 11:37 AM

Ok Mike, I give up a procedure cannot be a process, it can describe the entire process or a part of the process but it cannot be it.

Process approach guidance from ISO

What's the difference between a procedure and a work instruction then - nothing?

Regards,
Simon
:lol:


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#8 Franco

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 01:11 PM

Dear collegues,
IMHO a Working Instruction describes one and only one process, while a Procedure describes more than one process and moreover the interactions between them.


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An ancient Chinese proverb teaches that the person who waits for a roast duck to fly into their mouth must wait a very long time.

#9 Mike S.

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Posted 28 March 2003 - 01:43 PM

Ok Mike, I give up a procedure cannot be a process, it can describe the entire process or a part of the process but it cannot be it.

Process approach guidance from ISO

What's the difference between a procedure and a work instruction then - nothing?

Regards,
Simon
:lol:

The difference between a procedure and a work instruction is a fuzzy one, IMO. As you note, ISO says a procedure is a "specified way to carry out an activity or a process". I believe that the term "work instruction" can be used synonymously with "procedure" with no harm. It's semantics. However, you can choose to give the terms different meanings in your QMS if you want to (i.e. procedure being an overall, higher-level description of how to do the process and a WI being a more detailed document.
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#10 Jim Wade

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Posted 07 April 2003 - 10:05 PM

These notes (comments on the definition of process, procedure and work instruction: http://www.bin.co.uk/PPWI.pdf ) may be of some use.

rgds Jim


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#11 Simon

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 07:04 AM

Thanks Jim,

That's just the job.

Regards,
Simon


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