Policy, Process, and Procedure? What’s the difference?
Most companies have some form of HR policy. It's likely most of us haven't given it much thought. It's also possible that your company has a specific leave policy. Either way, the policy will tell us what the deal is with leave. The policy may state something like:
"Full-time staff are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave for every 12 months worked. All staff must have their leave approved by their manager."
The policy provides you the why or what annual leave. But it doesn't tell you how you go about it.
Now we get some more information. The process for annual leave might look something like this:
"To apply for annual leave, complete the relevant form and submit this to your manager and wait for approval."
This is the main activity that makes sure we follow the policy. There may even be a simple flow diagram that explains the steps or activity. Actually, these are always a good idea. People generally prefer a diagram to written instructions.
Now we get to the detail. The procedure will tell us exactly how to apply for leave:
- Login to the HR system
- Click on Annual Leave
- Click apply for leave
- Complete the relevant details
- Click Submit
It might also include screenshots. It could be a page on an Intranet. The point is that it tells us exactly what to do.
What if our company switches over to a new HR system?
Well, the process and policy won't change. We'll still need to get our leave approved. But the procedure may well change. The steps and clicks will be different.
How does this apply to our project work?
Let's look at a very common example. The RFI.
What about the POLICY? Some projects may have one. It might an Information Management Policy, or something similar. It could be a section in the contract.
It may state something like: "All project-related queries must be raised via RFIs."
The POLICY states that we must use RFIs to raise questions. The PROCESS tells us the broad mechanism - Mail or Documents.
The specific tasks and steps are in the PROCEDURE. This helps determine configuration requirements. Along with which features/functionality to use, options, etc.