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Procedures, Processes and Work Instructions an Easy Explanation.

July 30, 2016

It's sometimes hard to get your head around the ISO need for Procedures, Processes and Work Instructions (PPW). I've tried hard to come up with a simplified way to explain how these fit together and the way I do it is with a sandwich.


We all know what a sandwich looks like, but how does it equate to PPW? Lets look at it a little closer.


What is a Procedure? It's a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.

So simplified it's the beginning of something that ends in a result, or output.


In our sandwich, the procedure is represented by the 2 slices of bread, one on the top and one on the bottom. The top signifies the start of the sandwich, and the bottom the end of the sandwich.


What are Processes? They are series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. Simplified, the actions needed to get you from the start to the end of something.


In our sandwich, the processes are the spread, or butter we put on our bread and the filling. So if it were a cheese and pickle sandwich, the 3 processes would be butter, cheese and pickle.


Finally, what are Work Instructions? These are the descriptive way to complete the processes.

Or simply put, how to complete the processes.


In our sandwich's case, our 3 process, butter, cheese and pickle all require 3 work instructions. First off, butter. The work instruction could be:

  • Get butter from fridge

  • Get clean knife from cutlery drawer

  • Open packet of butter

  • Using knife spread butter on one side of both slices of bread

  • Close butter and return to fridge

  • Clean knife and return to cutlery drawer

And so on for the other two processes.


A simple exercise for you to try, or give to your management team to try.  Ask them to write down the procedure, processes and work instructions for making a cup of tea.  I'd wager that no two will be the same.  When you get them, ask the staff to make a cup following their instructions.  It will help them realise that the clearer the processes and work instructions, the easier the procedure is.


Have fun!



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