Difference between Instructions and Procedures

Key difference: In comparison, a procedure is less detailed than an instruction and it gives a general over view of what must be done. An instruction is more detailed and deals with the point by point guidelines oh how the said work must be done. Basically, both procedures and instruction serve difference purposes and must be used complimenting each other.

Instructions and procedures are two difference words, which may be commonly confused. A person may be required to follow instructions or procedures on how and what needs to be done. However, which is which, and what exactly is the person following: instructions or procedures.

Dictionary.com defines instructions as:

  • The act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
  • Knowledge or information imparted.
  • An item of such knowledge or information.
  • Usually, instructions. orders or directions: The instructions are on the back of the box.
  • The act of furnishing with authoritative directions.
  • Computers. A command given to a computer to carry out a particular operation.

While, procedures are defined as:

  • An act or a manner of proceeding in any action or process; conduct.
  • A particular course or mode of action.
  • Any given mode of conducting legal, parliamentary, or other business, especially litigation and judicial proceedings.
  • The sequence of actions or instructions to be followed in solving a problem or accomplishing a task.
  • Also called subprogram. A group of statements that may be used at one or more points in a computer program.

There is a lot of confusion with the words procedures and instructions, especially in a workplace setting. The main difference between the two is that procedures describe a process, while instructions act as guidelines. They often appear as a series of steps or stages one must complete one after the other.

Procedures are more general than instructions. They describe how to perform a task in general; they also outline the key steps and the order in which the steps should be taken. Essentially they define what one needs to do. A work procedure may also entail intputs/outputs, flow, measurements, etc. Work instructions should take someone through the steps that are necessary to complete a task or tasks for a responsibility in a procedure. For example, a purchasing procedure may describe who is responsible for approving purchases, and what records need to be kept.

Instructions, on the other hand, are a series of detailed steps that define how something must be done. Instructions are mainly associated with instruction or teaching. Hence, instructions are given to teach somebody something. For example: instructions for cooking, instructions for knitting a scarf, instructions for building a dollhouse, instructions for completing a project, instructions for writing a report, instruction manual for any and all electronic appliances, etc. A work instruction, such as a purchase order would tell one how to fill out a purchase order, line by line.

In comparison, a procedure is less detailed than an instruction and it gives a general over view of what must be done. An instruction is more detailed and deals with the point by point guidelines oh how the said work must be done. Basically, both procedures and instruction serve difference purposes and must be used complimenting each other. 

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