Difference Between Policy and Procedure

Policy vs Procedure

Policies and procedures are two words often talked about in any organization. They are extremely important and no organization can work in the absence of policies and procedures. But there are so many similarities in the two concepts that many often use the words interchangeably, which is not correct. This article intends to highlight the difference between policy and procedure so that any person working in an organization may not have any confusion between the two.


You must have read the term policy in the context of a government having a foreign policy or an economic policy in place. This gives a clue as to what a policy is. It is actually a guiding principle that is put in place to give direction to the employees of an organization. In the context of a government, it is the direction in which a particular department or ministry should move forward to achieve its goals. It serves as a guide in decision making under different sets of circumstances. This policy is always within the framework of the missions and objectives of any organization and is usually set by top brass of any organization.

In an organization, policies can also be understood as written or unwritten code of conduct and also rules under which operations are to be carried out to achieve the goals of the organization. In any organization, there are policies pertaining to each and every aspect of the system whether it is employees, work culture, modus operandi, business dealings, billing and accounting methods, or the security of the company. These policies are kept in place for the organizational set up to keep functioning smoothly and without any glitches. There would be utter chaos in any organization if there are no policies in place. Just imagine the chaos at a traffic signal if it does not work.


When you are in a chemistry class, the teacher tells you everything about a topic, but it is when you apply the knowledge gained in a lab practically that you realize what needs to be done at what time. It is like learning about all the parts of a car such as clutch, brakes and steering in a driving school and then applying all the knowledge gained while driving on road. So policies set the guidelines, and procedures are their practical applications.

Difference between Policy and Procedure

If you are working in a factory, there are policies about operating a machine, but procedures are the set of actions that you need to perform while operating the machine in reality. In fact, procedures are step by step instructions that tell the employees what to do and when to do it in real life. Policies translated into action are procedures.

There are obvious differences between policy and procedure.

Differences between policy and procedure

• Policies guide top management in decision making, while procedures guide employees into action.

• Policies can be modified by the management, but procedures remain in force and are to be followed in Toto.

• Policies reflect the mission statements and objectives of a company, while procedures are practical applications of these policies.

• Policies are made by the top brass, while procedures are made in consultation with employees.