Policy vs. Procedure

Difference Between policy and procedure

Policy and procedure are two words which are similar to each other in many ways and this is why they are used interchangeably without realizing the difference between them which should ideally not be done.

Policy is kind of a guiding principle for the people who execute activities in an organization. In case of government it is about choosing a particular direction for achieving the targets set by a department or a ministry. When it becomes difficult to choose a direction under different circumstances then the policy works as a guiding principle. A policy has to be in accordance with the goals of any organization.

Policy can also be understood as a code of conduct and set of rules for regulating operations in an organization. Polices are designed for each aspect of a system and all the functions within those systems have to be compliant to the policies. These policies are helpful especially in running a system smoothly and remove the scope for any chaos.

Procedure is a defined way to perform a specific task. For example there is a procedure to do an experiment or learn driving and any other activity you can think of.

To understand the difference between procedure and policy given points can be helpful:

  • Policies are put to action through procedures while procedure is a way to do a particular task.
  • Policies guide the decision makers while procedures guide the workers.
  • Policies can be changed when the goals or mission of a department changes while procedures remain unchanged till the time there is any practical difficulty in working according to them.
  • Policies are designed by the top management in accordance with the objectives to be achieved while procedures are set according to the task which is to be performed.