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Home|Nintex Blog|Distinguish between policy, process, procedure, and work instruction

Distinguish between policy, process, procedure, and work instruction

There are several key concepts that must be understood by users of process mapping to make sure they get the best business value from it. These include policy, process, procedure, and work instruction. By examining the function and correct implementation of each, this blog will highlight their fundamental role in successful process creation and execution.

The value of process creation and mapping

Organizations use process mapping to enhance the employee work experience as it allows for better visibility over processes and improves inefficient workflows. It can be used to promote real process ownership and accountability in organizations and encourage innovation among team members. Effective process mapping also lifts team engagement and culture – as a process-oriented culture boosts productivity, team execution, efficiency, and collaboration.

To get the most business value from process mapping, it’s crucial that organizations understand the various elements involved:

  • Policy refers to an overarching company rule that may govern multiple processes.
  • Process depicts end to end how an input is transformed into an output – showing the higher-level steps or activities.
  • Procedure is the sequence of lower-level tasks needed to complete each activity in the process. This relates to how we perform the process.
  • Work instruction refers to the very detailed instructions or screen click by click. This may take the shape of forms, guides, training, videos, images, screenshots, checklists, or weblinks.

These four elements should be designed on a scale for how they exist and interact with one another. When policy, process, procedure, and work instruction all live within a similar space and are well linked together, it’s easier to navigate and understand an entire process.

Here’s an example to help illustrate how effective process creation for booking a company car works in practice:

  1. Policy: All company vehicles must be kept roadworthy at all times.
  2. Process: Booking a company pool car.
  3. Procedure: To pick up keys on the day of travel.
  4. Work instruction: Pre-drive checklist.

As you can see, each step detailed above exists in harmony with its counterparts. The elements are easy to navigate and it’s possible to identify where one element of the workflow ends and another begins.

Understanding process boundaries

An awareness of process boundaries is key to successful process creation. For the sake of clarity, let’s break the boundaries down into four core categories:

  • Triggers. Understanding your triggers. For example, what situation causes you to start a process is highly useful. This could be the beginning or end of the month, the arrival of a form, or anything that changes and kicks off a process.
  • Inputs. Your inputs are another factor to consider here. What is needed to perform a process? What process provides these inputs? Does any other process give you these inputs as their outputs?
  • Outputs. What is created by completing this process? Does any process use this as an input? We must be aware that no process sits in isolation. The outputs of a marketing process may form the inputs of a sales process, for instance.
  • Performance Targets. Finally, what are the key performance indicators or measures in place that demonstrate a process is operating effectively? This stage helps us to figure out if a process is working and is easy to understand.

In seeing where information is passing through inputs and outputs, it’s possible to identify where breakdowns of communication are occurring. These triggers, inputs, and outputs can be used to form a skeleton structure of an organization and highlight places that need improvement. In defining process boundaries, people can understand where you are starting or ending, and when the process is relevant.

Ensure process creation excellence with Nintex Promapp®

Nintex Promapp® takes a three-dimensional approach to process mapping. The process management software helps organizations to understand, map, and manage their process knowledge in a central location. The technology makes process creation much easier than before. It encourages company-wide collaboration and helps create improved processes all from a single, user-friendly platform.

At Nintex, we make it fast and easy to manage, automate, and optimize your business processes. There’s nowhere better to get started with effective process management.



Want to try process management for yourself and put what you’ve learned into practice? Why not start today? Get in touch with the team at Nintex now or start your free trial.



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