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  • Writer's pictureLynette Lamarque Wilson

What's the Difference: Process vs. Policy

When it comes to running an organization, we often come across the terms "processes" and "policies." You might think they mean the same thing, but hold on tight! They actually have their own unique roles and functions. In this blog post, we're going to unravel the dissimilarities between processes and policies, and see how they shape the way things work in an organization.

Defining Processes and Policies:


Processes are like the steps you take to get things done. They're a series of connected actions that you follow to complete a task. These steps show you how the work gets done, who's responsible for what, and what the expected outcomes are. Processes can be changed or improved to make them more efficient. They're usually enforced using things like guidelines, standard procedures, or workflow management systems. For example, processes could include developing a new product, providing customer support, or getting new employees onboarded.


Now, policies are different. They're like guidelines or rules that organizations create to help people make decisions and take the right actions. Policies set the standards and boundaries for how things should be done. They make sure everyone behaves in a consistent and fair way. Policies cover various areas like human resources, information security, or financial management. They're not changed as often as processes and are enforced through checks, monitoring, and sometimes disciplinary actions. Examples of policies include codes of conduct for employees, data protection rules, or procurement guidelines.

Characteristics and Key Differences:


  • Focus on "how" the work gets done

  • More specific and targeted than policies

  • They're structured, repeatable, and measurable

  • Processes can be adapted and improved over time (i.e., continuous process improvement)

  • They're detailed, step-by-step guides that outline who does what, and when

  • Processes are enforced using workflow systems (like ClickUp)


  • Policies focus on "what" needs to be done and "why" it's important

  • They cover a broader range of areas compared to processes

  • Policies provide a framework for desired behaviors and decision-making

  • Policies are more stable and not changed as frequently

  • They're enforced through checks, monitoring, and disciplinary actions

So, there you have it! Processes and policies have their own unique roles in a business. Processes show you how to get things done, while policies set the rules and guidelines for decision-making and behavior. Understanding the differences between processes and policies is essential for running an efficient organization, ensuring compliance, and creating a culture of responsibility and transparency. By combining the strengths of both processes and policies, organizations can achieve effectiveness, consistency, and flexibility in the ever-changing business world.

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