What Is Process Specification?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Process specification is the provision of clear, detailed directions to allow anyone to follow a series of steps to complete a task such as putting an object together or correctly formatting a report. These steps may follow a rigid set of rules to make them as standardized as possible so a reader can easily understand them. In other cases, the process specification may include nonstandard language or topics of discussion, and may be less universally understandable.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

In a process specification, the reader follows a series of steps laid out in the form of a flow chart. At each step, there may be forks to reflect different approaches to the process or different end products. If the reader follows the steps exactly, she will finish with an end product that should be indistinguishable from that produced by another person who follows the same directions. Process specification may allow for individually produced products, or it can provide directions for mass production using manufacturing equipment.

Manufacturers use process specification to ensure standardized and accurate completion of projects. This document can be sent to another factory, which will be able to produce exactly the same end product by following the steps. The steps detail the types of materials to use, their colors, and the method of assembly, in addition to providing detailed drawings and discussions of fabrication techniques. The document's clear guidelines make it possible to reproduce products without the personal instructions of someone with experience in their manufacture.

Manufacturing is not the only task that can be standardized with process specification. Software development, document generation, and other tasks can be completed with guidelines of a similar nature. In all cases, the goal is to create clear, understandable directions that will be executable by anyone with basic training in that area of interest. An administrative assistant familiar with word processing programs, for example, can follow directions to create a report for the use of administrators.

Writing up a process specification requires a detailed understanding of the process and the language used in that particular industry. For some processes, guidebooks of standardized terminology and conventions are available. These can be a useful resource both for personnel who prepare specifications and staff members who may need to read and follow them. If any questions about the process specification arise, the guidebook can often provide the answer by defining the language used and allowing the reader to understand exactly what is meant by a given statement.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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