Businesses know that they need to have a system made up of policies, processes and procedures. Often businesses have issues discerning which is which or use the terms interchangeably, resulting in them lacking one of the elements. All three, however, are necessary to run a successful, organized business.
Policy – A business rule or company guideline that gives employees, their departments and the overall company direction. It ensures consistency and compliance with the company’s mission, values and strategic goals, and serves as a guideline for procedures. Most of the time, policies are made by upper management, which uses policies to guide their decisions. Within a policy, you should explain what it is about, why it is required, what department it falls under and who is responsible for executing and enforcing it.
Process – A process crosses departments, and explains how to produce a product or service. It follows the company’s rules, or policies, while giving a high level view of how something should work. Within a process, you should include who is responsible for executing it, what tasks should be performed and when they should be performed.
Procedure – While a process is a broad overview, a procedure is more detailed, offering step-by-step instructions on how to perform part of a process or a specific task. Because procedures are used by employees the most, their input is often sought in their creation; procedures are the practical applications of the policies created by upper management. Within a procedure, you should describe who performs it and what steps are performed, as well as when and how they are performed.
Example: A policy establishes the rules of being a bakery, such as proper use of utensils or appliances for safety purposes. A process explains what the bakery makes and sells (i.e., does it offer just cakes, or does it also make cookies and cupcakes, too?), and who is involved at each level — from cashiers to chefs. A procedure is the recipe for a cake, giving you the exact ingredients and steps to make the cake.
From the example, you can see that you cannot run a successful bakery (or bake cakes, for that matter!) without policies, processes and procedures. All three can help determine the most efficient way to complete a task, give your employees guidance about how to do their jobs and help ensure quality control of your products and services.
Setting up systems of policies, processes and procedures might take a lot of legwork up front, but will ultimately make your employees more efficient and confident in their work in the end. With policies, processes and procedures in place, you take the first step in being able to scale and grow your business.
As your organization grows, a policy, process and procedure management system can help organize the growing number of documents you have and streamline the workflow, from policy creation through distribution and employee acknowledgement. At ConvergePoint, we not only help HR and compliance teams make the policy workflow more efficient, but we also partner with organizations to help them structure their policies, processes and procedures, positioning them for continued growth.
Next step: Learn more about why policies, processes and procedures are essential to running an efficient, safe and profitable organization by reading the White Paper: Streamlining the Policy and Procedure Management Lifecycle.