What are the differences between the work instruction, process and procedure ?

The terminology of the industry has such a great amount of concepts and notions that it becomes essential to know in order to set up an effective organization. Identifying them precisely makes establishing and maintaining industrial documentation that can be adapted to the needs and objectives of the company.

The work instructions, the process and the procedure can sometimes be confused with each other by misuse of language or ignorance. Of course, these are three quite different and distinct notions and you have to understand where stand the differences between them.

Work Instruction : the “how” of a procedure

The work instructions answers to the question “how?” in the procedure, which will be discussed later in this article.

Actually, the work instructions specify the actions to be taken in order to perform a given task at a given position. And, the description of these actions, which must be done in great detail, may also relate to the operations sequences from one post to another.

When it comes to the industrial documentation, the work instruction is described through text content, but nothing prevents you to enrich the latter by visual formats (pictures, videos..). Nowadays, thanks to digital media, the visual elements are not only more easily integrated, but they are also recommended because they make the understanding of instructions easier for the operators who will execute them.

The process, or sequence of activities that make up the value chain

To use the definition of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFMQ), the process is “the means by which the organization implements and deploys the skills of its staff to produce results”.

But more generally, the process refers to both the sequence of activities in the company’s value chain and the resources deployed to achieve them. Of courses, by resources, we mean the human and material means. In a nutshell, it covers all the stages of transformation of input data (raw materials) into output data (finished products). The culmination of a process can be either the delivery to the customer or its consumption, internally, by another process.

The evaluation of its performance will be based on its ability to provide customer satisfaction or the quality of the result before moving to the next process. As a result, the improvement, through a process approach, of the flows that make it up is a capital issue.

The procedure : who does what?

For its part, the procedure describes the organization. To be more specific, it is the set of rules for an activity. It describes the working method, as well as the different actors (operators and services) that will carry out the tasks.

To push a little bit further, a procedure is made to answer the question “who does what? Without going into so much detail as the “how?” question. It also mentions the tools used to apply the method of work. Here, we speak of “treatments” to designate them.

These procedures have to be specified in writing and must be included in the company industrial documentation.

About Picomto

Picomto is a digital work instructions software for industrial companies which wants to switch their documentation from a cost center to a profit center. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more informations.