Process documents

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Introduction

A process is a series of related events or activities that take place over a period of time. A process will normally have a clear trigger, and an identifiable result. A process document, therefore, documents the flow of activities, information and/or control through the process. Specifically, it describes how something happens. Examples are: how a sales order is handled, or how a product is manufactured.

Processes are chronological - things happen in a certain, predefined order, and one action either triggers the next, or is a prerequisite of the next. There is a flow of activity. For this reason, process documents often consist of (or include) a flowchart, and/or a set of numbert steps.

A process is distinct from a procedure in that a procedure describes how to perform a specific task (typically, by one person, at one time), whereas a process describes a sequence of tasks or events that may be carried out by more than one person (or machines), typically over a longer period of time.

Process documents should be descriptive - they describe how something happens. They are therefore generally written in the third-person, using the active voice, and present tense. Because process documents are generally describing a flow of activities, control, or information, they tend to rely heavily on the use of flow diagrams.

Business processes

A business process describes how a company's business operations are carried out. It identifies the roles involved in the process, their responsibilities within the process, and the way in which the various roles interact in order to execute the process. These activities may be carried out within a system (such as SAP) or may be entirely manual activities.

Additionally, the process document typically contains supporting information explaining why the process was designed the way it is, how it relates to other processes, and what controls exist to make sure that the process is followed correctly.

It is important to remember that process documents are user documents (as distinct from - for example - design documents, or project documents). They are designed to tell users how the business works, and allow them to identify their role within this.

See also

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