What do we need to include in a good process description?

A process description is a set of information that describes the characteristics of a process in terms that will enable its effective installation, commissioning, operation, control and maintenance.  Often the content of a process description is not much more than a flow chart and this can be adequate in certain circumstances where much of the other information is consolidated in department and divisional plans or manuals. However, problems may arise if a process has to be moved and set up elsewhere. It is then that difficulties arise as people know the process worked but don't know why.The essential elements are as follows: (Note: Don't try to include everything - the process description is a model of reality not a complete specification that has to explain everything)

Process purpose  - why the process exists expressed as what the process has been set up to do

Process objectives - what the process aims to achieve expressed in the following terms

Process risk  - what could go wrong in producing the required outputs within the designated constraints expressed in the following terms

Process activators  -  what event, time or input triggers or energises the process

Process operation  - what the process does expressed in a diagram or flow chart that identifies: (Note there should only be an arrow between the boxes if the activity is triggered by an input from the previous box. This is not always the case)

Human resources  - what the process needs to do what it does expressed as the capacity and competency needed to achieve the process objectives in following terms


The measurable results the process is intended to deliver


The characteristics by which performance is judged (not the level of performance; this is the target value)


The method of measurement E.g Inspection, test, analysis, demonstration, simulation validation of records


The level of performance to be achieved. E.g Standard, specification, requirement, budget, quota, plan

Frequency of measurement

How often the measurements are taken


The person or role responsible for measuring performance


The potential failure mode or hazard

How might this part or process fail to meet the requirements?

What could happen which would adversely affect performance?

What would an interested party consider to be unacceptable?


The anticipated effect of this failure mode/hazard on the process outcome


The probably causes of the failure/hazard


The probability that this failure/hazard could occur


The controls in place to

  • prevent this failure/hazard from occurring or the actions needed 
  • eliminate, reduce or control this mode of failure

Process Stage

What action or decision must be taken?


What must be achieved?

Units of competence

What must the person be able to do to produce this output?

Assessment method

How should assessment be conducted?

Evidence required

What evidence should be collected?

Performance criteria

How well must this be achieved?

Number Required

Number of people required with this competence at this stage

Physical resources expressed as the capacity and capability needed to achieve the process objectives in terms of the plant, facilities, machinery, floor space, instrumentation, monitoring equipment, calibration etc.

Process constraints expressed as the statutory and legal regulations, corporate policies and other conditions resulting from the analysis of critical success factors that constrain the manner in which the process operates. Can be contained in tables with cross references to other process elements.

Process reviews  - how the process is controlled expressed as:

Business processes





© Transition Support Last edit  24/11/2023 







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