By the end of this document, you will understand how the three types of documentation; policies, processes, and procedures are related and what role each one plays in an organization’s documentation.

I find it very helpful to visualize the document types as a three-tier pyramid, with increasing detail as you move down the pyramid.


What is a Policy? (Top of Pyramid)

A policy outlines the guidelines around an organization's values determined by senior management. It is focused on providing a destination the organization is aiming for, but does not give any directions. For example, a policy statement for returns may be “JackRabbit Gocerer will accept returns from all customers within 30 days with a receipt” but does not outline HOW to process a return.

Policy Template

What is a Process? (Middle of Pyramid)

The How is provided in the process; “A process is a set of interrelated activities that turn inputs into outputs”. An example of a business process for a return policy would outline the activities associated with a return such as “complete item return form” but give NO details on the specifics of performing the task (filling out the form). Process documentation also contains a Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) flow chart to visualize the process for an easier read. For more information on BPMN visit this webpage.

Process Template

What is a Procedure (Bottom of Pyramid)

Also known as work instructions; provides the exact steps one would need to go through to complete any activity detailed in a process. Continuing with the return policy and process example; a procedural step would be “enter the item number and quantity being returned into the return form”.

Procedure Template