Procedure versus process, Comparison between processes and procedures

Processes and procedures appear similar but are often quite different; together they define the business model and organizational structure.

last updated Wednesday, March 1, 2023
#Policies and Procedures #Consistent Outcomes

John Burson     Subscribe
What’s the Difference Between Processes and Procedures?


Procedure versus process; in business terms: processes cover breadth, while procedures cover depth. With the process, you have a clearer definition of the big picture, with main elements, while procedures cover the elements in detail, defining responsibilities, methods, and objectives. By defining your processes and procedures, you get a standard operating model your company can follow.


Processes convert inputs into outputs. Often, processes work at a higher level and cut across different functions and departments. In a process, you can include multiple procedures regarding procedures from related processes. You can then use work instructions to give more detail to a procedure and expand the process to something similar to an organizational chart. Implementing process maps helps you define and control your business.

An example of a Process: The Revenue Process

The revenue process begins when sales receive orders, and the item is pulled from inventory and transferred to the customer. However, the process is only complete when the product is merchandised and converted to cash. The process cuts across multiple departments. To control such a process, you must define the objectives, tracking metrics, and actions needed to complete the process.  


Procedures define the steps needed to give consistent outcomes. They help with compliance, training, information retention, and error prevention. Simple processes require simple procedures; however, a complex process such as the Revenue Process often features several procedures that apply to different departments. The revenue process can have different procedures for each function and a general procedure for the entire process. The diversity of the procedures will always depend on the size of the company, the industry, the type of business, and the placement of critical points.

Often, you will notice an intersection between different processes, which you can define in the business model.

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Policies and Procedures