If nothing else, a procedures has to tell us how to proceed therefore the sequence of steps is critical to whether a statement or document is a procedure or something else. Specifications, contracts and records are not procedures as they do not tell us how to do anything. These describe the outputs resulting from carrying out procedures or tasks, leaving us to decide any further actions necessary to use these outputs. The output will more than likely be used as inputs to other procedures.
A set of self-
Within the context of management systems (and more specifically, ISO 9000) the procedure has, for many, taken on particular and sometimes peculiar characteristics. Such (documented) procedures may be written, not as a sequence of activities or steps but as a series of requirements or a series of responsibilities. Neither of these can be procedures as they do not tell us how to proceed, what steps to take or how to measure the result.
Such procedures often follow a uniform format with a purpose statement, applicability statement, responsibilities and then procedure statements. Often there is no connection between the purpose statement and the procedure. Purpose statements often address the purpose of a document not the purpose of the task which the sequence of tasks is intended to deliver. Again, if such procedures (and rarely they do) contain measures of success, these are probably quantitative measures related to the task itself and not to why the procedure is carried out. The most common perception of such procedures is that they are simply associated with paperwork and filling in forms.
We seem to think that we have created a procedure by classifying a document as a procedure. These documents are often thought of as high-
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