Process and procedure are two interconnected concepts in the business world but are often used interchangeably. In reality, they represent distinct ideas that can be identified and distinguished from one another.
A process is a set of activities undertaken to achieve a specific goal or result. These activities typically involve multiple steps and may require input from multiple stakeholders. As such, a process is often seen as a means of achieving an overall organizational objective.
For example, a "hiring process" might involve several steps, such as creating a job description, advertising the vacancy, interviewing candidates, and onboarding new hires. It would involve multiple departments, including human resources, the department with the vacancy, and possibly even outside organizations (e.g., recruitment agencies).
In contrast, a procedure is a specific set of instructions that must be followed in order to complete a process properly. Procedures provide detailed guidance on the steps and actions that need to be taken for the process to be completed correctly and efficiently. As such, they form an integral part of any successful business operation.
For example, within the broader "hiring process," there could be a specific "interviewing procedure" that outlines who conducts the interviews, what questions are to be asked, how the answers should be evaluated, etc.
In summary, processes involve a sequence of activities that are undertaken to achieve an overall business objective, while procedures provide detailed instructions on how to complete these activities properly.
Here is a simple way to differentiate the two:
Process vs Procedure
|Focus||What and Why||How|
|Scope||Broad, could span multiple departments/functions||Narrow, usually within a single function|
|Flexibility||Generally more flexible||Typically rigid|
|Documentation||May or may not be documented||Usually documented|
|Components||Inputs, Outputs, Objectives, Metrics||Step-by-step tasks|