If you are someone in the company who writes procedures, this is the 3P that you must understand — PROCESS, POLICY, and PROCEDURE. How these 3Ps work together, can bring value to the company.
What are the definitions of these 3Ps? You can get these definitions through Google Search and Wikipedia.
Policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol.
- It is a set of principles or rules that provides a definite direction for an organization.
- Policies assist in defining what must be done.
A Procedure is a clear step-by-step method for implementing an organization’s policy or responsibility.
- It describes a logical sequence of activities or processes that needs to be followed to complete a task or function in a correct and consistent manner.
- Procedures can be produced in the form of:
- Written steps of the process
A Process is a series of actions, changes, or functions that lead to results; or a sequence of interdependent and linked procedure which consumes one or more resources (i.e. manpower, time, energy, equipment, and investment) at every stage to convert inputs (data, materials, parts etc.) into outputs. These outputs then serve as the inputs for the next stage, until a known goal or end result is reached.
Apart from explaining the 3Ps in such technical way, here is my simplified version when I explain to my clients.
PROCESS: A group of activities that is carried out to complete a task.
For example, every morning you spend time with the activities preparing yourself for work. Those activities can be formed as “WORK PREPARATION PROCESS”.
POLICY: All the Do’s and Don’ts to achieve the objective of a particular PROCESS.
Refer back to your morning preparation example, you already determined the activities that will be carried out during your morning work preparation, but that’s not enough! You might have some other requirements like your appearance, your makeup, your breakfast (i.e. drink 500ml of warm or room temperature water once you get up, must wear tie, food must be organic, coffee must mix with 2 cubes of sugar and 50mg of milk). This can be due to the company’s requirement or own initiative for health purpose.
PROCEDURES: Sentences that describe and define your PROCESS step-by-step. This includes using tools like machine or checklist necessarily. Now, you finally understand that there are so many activities and requirements to carry out before you head for work in the morning. You write them down in sentences to avoid missing out any steps. You too can add a checklist to remind yourself.
1) Switch on mobile data to login into Facebook.
2) Go to the bathroom and take shower (don’t forget to close the door).
2.1) Take off your clothes.
2.2) Wash your face.
2.3) Brush your teeth.
2.4) Shower your body and more.
You can write down them as detailed as you want. The more detail it is, the more areas it covers.
So, PROCESS seems like the fundamental to develope POLICY and PROCEDURES. How am I going to create my PROCESS?
It is simple. What you need to do is to map those processes (or you can call it as your activities, including documents and machinery) into a FLOW CHART. A FLOW CHART is a name representing a group of diagrams which are used to create and describe PROCESS, like below.
Mapping the processes is meant for visualization. It is like a direction in Google Map, it shows you the direction on where your business heads, in a written format.
Jessica Tan (SOP expert) helps companies increase their efficiency and profitability by creating process approach management system and user-based procedure. She has been the business process and performance development partner for SMEs as well as multi-national corporations in the Asia Pacific region, including Vietnam and China. Jessica has more than 15 years’ experience in solving management system, which includes improving work efficiency through process mapping, reengineering, and creating unique operation strategies.