Today is part 4 of our Defining Policy and Procedures which will discuss guidelines and work instructions. Guidelines “are the steps that are taken to achieve objectives and implement policies. Guidelines clarify what should be done and how.” (ISO) While this may sound like a procedure, it’s not the same. Procedures are mandated and provide required consistency. Guidelines are not mandated. Rather, they can be recommendations, or tips for implementing procedures. They are interpretive, providing additional information.
For example, your guidelines for digitizing records may recommend certain settings. Your organization’s decision regarding which setting is to be used are the procedures.
A work instruction is most often used by IT departments. ISO says “a work instruction describes how to perform a task, which is a more detailed portion of [a] procedure.” It has a sequence of steps to execute a specific task. This is more detailed than procedures, and more specific than guidelines. These are often provided in training to reduce mistakes.