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A procedure is a document written to support a "policy directive". A procedure is designed to describe who, what, where, when, and why by means of establishing corporate accountability in support of the implementation of a "policy".
The "how" is further documented by each organizational unit in the form of "work instructions" which aims to further support a procedure by providing greater detail.
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As an example, suppose a manufacturing facility established a policy that all overtime shall be approved. A procedure can be created to establish “Who” can approve overtime (ranks, roles & responsibilities), "What" forms or systems must be used, "Where" they are located, "When" overtime is applicable, and "Why" (i.e., the management directive established via a "policy"). The output of a procedure is an input to a "work instruction" (i.e., a set of actions or operations which must be executed in the same manner in order to achieve intended results under the same circumstances. (For example, in the latter example, the output of the procedure could be further broken down into a work instruction to describe "how" a manager/employee should access the systems for approving/reviewing overtime (e.g., first click on this hyperlink, second press this button, third choose these fields, and fourth click approve/reject).
Specific types of procedures
In telecommunications, a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is specifically designed to describe and guide multiple iterations of the same procedure over a broad number of locations, on multiple occasions, and over an open period of time until such SOP is updated or discontinued. Also used heavily in the telecommunications industry, a MOP (Method of Procedure) differs from a SOP in that it contains specific directives for a particular activity, on a particular date, for a specific location, piece of equipment, or circumstance. In today's business model, wherein telecom providers can be both "provider" and "user", most "user" organizations require a MOP from the service provider whenever an activity has the potential to cause a traffic-affecting outage.
The industry standard is <50ms of traffic interruption. If a "switch hit" or traffic interruption is 50 ms or less, it is "transparent" to the bit stream carrying the traffic, and is therefore considered "hitless" and non-traffic affecting.
- Froehlich, Fritz E. & Kent, Allen & Hall, Carolyn M. The Froehlich/Kent Encyclopedia of Telecommunications, Volume 3; Volume 16. p. 342.