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Despite their relationships, policies and procedures differ significantly from one another.

Policies are general statements that guide managerial decisions in the organization.

They are formal guidelines that guide the activities of an organization.

Policies provide the operational framework within which the organisation function.

They serve as guiding principles that enable employees to operate consistently throughout the company.

On the other hand, procedures are operational processes necessary to put an organization's policies into practice.

They are processes followed to ensure consistency in the quality of services delivery.

Procedures describe specific work processes. They describe the order in which various acts take place in a managerial action.

They are detailed descriptions of how to carry out specific tasks.

Procedures are also step-by-step listings of the requirements on how to perform work items.

Differences between Policy and Procedure

1. Policy is 'what' the organization does operationally while procedure is 'how' the organization aims to carry out the operating policy.

2. Policy has wide range of application since its scope typically covers the whole organizational activities.

The procedures, in contrast, has limited application because its scope often only covers specific organizational activities.

3. While procedures are derived from carrying out an organization's policies, policies are derived from the organization's objectives.

4. Policy is usually expressed in broad terms because they describe general issues.

On the contrary, procedures are expressed in detail because they deal with specific actions.

5. While procedure outlines processes, policy addresses operational issues.

In other words, whereas procedures serve as a guide for action, policies serve as a guide for decision-making.

6. While procedures specify "how," "when," and/or "who," policies specify "what" and/or "why."

7. Policies identify the company rules and they are usually written to ensure that no rules are broken whereas procedures explain how and when to take certain actions.

Simply stated, policies are made up of rules whereas procedures are made up of steps.

8. Procedures are typically highlighted in outlines and steps, whereas policies are typically written using simple sentences and paragraphs.

9. When a scenario emerges, procedure focuses on what organizational members should do and how they should do it, whereas policy focuses on what members of the organization should do or not do.

10. Policies serves as the basis of organization procedures.

On the other hand, procedures reflect the policies adopted by an organization. Procedures are steps to be carried out within a broad policy framework.

11. Examples of the policy include "We sell on a cash basis" and "No sending of personal email during work time." Examples of procedures are "Steps on setting up login and password for new workers" and "How to handle a fire outbreak."


To conclude, the main difference between a policy and a procedure is that policy serves as a guide to decision making whereas procedure serves as a guide to action and performance.

Policy and Procedure may have differences but are related in some way. 

An example illustrates the relationship between procedure and policy. A company may have a policy that grants employees vacations.

However, the procedures put in place to carry out this policy may stipulate how to apply for leave, how to determine rates of vacation pay , and how to plan vacations so that they don't interfere with work.

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