Contrasting Process & Procedural Documentation

A man writing on roadmap on a whiteboard using a brown board marker

The term “technical documentation” refers to any document that explains the use, functionality, or creation of a product or service. Not only is this used to highlight information, technical documentation writers also need to ensure that their document is laid out in a usable, easy-to-read format, not to mention that it must be helpful to its audience. Today, we will be learning about the important differences between process and procedural documentation.

One of the most common and essential forms of technical writing is procedural documentation because it encompasses the policies, procedures, or guidelines that a company – or itsr client – must abide by. For instance, procedural documentation may be a description of the company’s expectations of their employees and provide clarification for a firm’s strategic and operational goals.

Procedural documentation differs from process documentation because a process document provides instructions on how to do something or how something was accomplished. Thus, process documents often display the techniques and methods used to form the product, in addition to the materials used. The difference between the two is in the complexity of their explanations – procedural documentation tends to be more detailed.  Therefore, it may be only helpful for a select group of people who can understand its technical terms. In contrast, process documentation can be in the form of process maps, making it easier to understand.

Procedural Documentation

A distinction between process and procedural documentation is its content – process documents demonstrate the steps undertaken to complete a project from start to finish, while procedural documentation focuses on the policies, procedures, and guidelines that must be followed. Therefore, procedural documentation is also known as policy documentation. A policy is created at the executive level, defining that something must be done, such as approval authorities or consequences for non-compliance. The procedure explains how the policy is executed, and by whom. In essence, a policy outlines what employees should do and the procedure explains who is expected to follow the guideline, and how they are expected to follow it. 

Procedural documentation may involve more external personnel, due to the necessity of ensuring that the proposed policy does not duplicate any other policy work. Technical writers will also ensure that both the policies and procedures are up-to-date and include all legal requirements. Procedural documentation also has a significant role in business analysis

Seen often in policy and procedure manuals, these documents are given to new employees, outlining the organization’s business, compliance, and risk management requirements. Done to ensure that the organization and its employees behave in a legal, ethical manner, these manuals are often referenced whenever an employee misbehaves or is confused when making a decision. 

Process Documentation

Overall, process documentation acts as a roadmap for your organization, highlighting the various phases of execution of a project. In addition, process documentation describes the role that employees play into a particular phase of the project, allowing managers to recognize any gaps in the process. This can come in handy if an employee leaves in the middle of a project since the manager can help fill in the gaps. But this reveals the necessity of proper documentation, because once this employee leaves, all of their knowledge of the project also leaves with them. Managers can decrease costs through this project mapping process because it prevents procedures from being unused due to a lack of understanding and helps determine which steps need to be revised or eliminated altogether. To develop quality product documentation, employees must include their complete understanding of their particular phase in the document, while also knowing that they cannot have too little nor too much information. 

One of the most common forms of process documentation is software documentation, as it describes information sequentially (as in a how-to-video or tutorial). Software documentation displays the appropriate use of the software. 

How EDC Can Help with Documentation

If your company has any questions or would like to generate their own process or procedural document, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will answer all your queries and work with you on the project, from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or

Written by Alexa Do


Contact Us