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Procedure vs. Protocol: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
"Procedure" refers to a particular method for carrying out a task or operation, while "protocol" refers to a set of rules that govern the format and transmission of data.
Procedure vs. Protocol

Key Differences

Procedure refers to a specific method or way of doing something, often detailed and step-by-step. It's like a recipe for action, ensuring consistency and efficiency. Protocol, on the other hand, often refers to a formal set of rules or guidelines, particularly in the context of diplomatic affairs, scientific experiments, or computer network communications.
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Nov 13, 2023
In many fields, procedures are crucial for the systematic execution of tasks, ensuring that activities are performed in a consistent and repeatable manner. They are often documented and require adherence for successful outcomes. Protocols, while similar in ensuring consistency, often relate more to standards and agreements, especially in communication, ensuring that interactions or transmissions occur smoothly and understandably.
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A procedure can be seen as a practical, step-by-step guide to accomplishing a particular task, often grounded in practice and experience. It is the "how-to" aspect of task execution. In contrast, protocols are more about the overarching rules and agreements that govern how various tasks or operations are carried out, often focusing on the "rules of engagement."
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In healthcare, procedures denote specific clinical actions, such as surgical methods or diagnostic processes. They are practical applications of medical knowledge. Conversely, protocols in the same field would refer to the standardized guidelines that dictate the general approach to patient care, like treatment plans for specific diseases.
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In summary, while both procedures and protocols are essential for order and efficiency, they serve different purposes. Procedures are the practical steps taken to accomplish a task, whereas protocols serve as a framework of rules and standards within which these tasks are performed.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Specific method for performing a task
Set of rules or standards
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Application

Practical, step-by-step guide
Guidelines or rules for processes
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Context

Often used in operational or practical settings
Common in formal, diplomatic, or technical settings
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Flexibility

Can be modified as per practical need
Usually rigid and standardized
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Focus

"How-to" aspect of task execution
"Rules of engagement" for processes
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Procedure and Protocol Definitions

Procedure

An established or official way of doing something.
Emergency evacuation procedures were practiced monthly.
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Nov 13, 2023

Protocol

A set of rules governing the exchange or transmission of data.
The computer network uses a specific protocol for data transfer.
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Procedure

A series of actions conducted in a certain order.
The surgical procedure was followed precisely to ensure patient safety.
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Protocol

The customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic formality.
The ambassador was well-versed in international protocol.
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Procedure

A method or way of doing something.
The company's hiring procedure includes several rounds of interviews.
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Protocol

A formal or official record of scientific experimental observations.
The research study was conducted according to the established protocol.
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Procedure

A manner of proceeding; a way of performing or effecting something
Standard procedure.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by diplomats and heads of state.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A series of steps taken to accomplish an end
A medical procedure.
Evacuation procedures.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

A code of correct conduct
Safety protocols.
Academic protocol.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

(Computers) A set of instructions that performs a specific task; a subroutine or function.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The first copy of a treaty or other such document before its ratification.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A set of established forms or methods for conducting the affairs of an organized body such as a business, club, or government.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

A preliminary draft or record of a transaction.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

(Law) The set of rules under which litigation is conducted, especially in contrast to the set of substantive legal principles that determine the merits of legal controversies and disputes.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The plan for a course of medical treatment or for a scientific experiment.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A particular method for performing a task.
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Protocol

(Computers) A standard procedure for regulating data transmission between computers.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A series of small tasks or steps taken to accomplish an end.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

To form or issue protocols.
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Procedure

(uncountable) The set of established forms or methods of an organized body for accomplishing a certain task or tasks.
Ensure that you follow procedure when accessing customers' personal information.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The minutes, or official record, of a negotiation or transaction; especially a document drawn up officially which forms the legal basis for subsequent agreements based on it.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

The steps taken in an action or other legal proceeding.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

An official record of a diplomatic meeting or negotiation; later specifically, a draft document setting out agreements to be signed into force by a subsequent formal treaty.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

(obsolete) That which results; issue; product.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

(international law) An amendment to an official treaty.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

(computing) A subroutine or function coded to perform a specific task, but does not return a value.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The first leaf of a roll of papyrus, or the official mark typically found on such a page.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

(medicine) A surgical operation.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The official formulas which appeared at the beginning or end of certain official documents such as charters, papal bulls etc.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

The act or manner of proceeding or moving forward; progress; process; operation; conduct.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

(sciences) The original notes of observations made during an experiment; also, the precise method for carrying out or reproducing a given experiment.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A step taken; an act performed; a proceeding; the steps taken in an action or other legal proceeding.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

The official rules and guidelines for heads of state and other dignitaries, governing accepted behaviour in relations with other diplomatic representatives or over affairs of state.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

That which results; issue; product.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

An accepted code of conduct; acceptable behaviour in a given situation or group.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A particular course of action intended to achieve a result;
The procedure of obtaining a driver's license
It was a process of trial and error
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

(computing) A set of formal rules describing how to transmit or exchange data, especially across a network.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A process or series of acts especially of a practical or mechanical nature involved in a particular form of work;
The operations in building a house
Certain machine tool operations
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

(medicine) The set of instructions allowing a licensed medical professional to start, modify, or stop a medical or patient care order.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A set sequence of steps, part of larger computer program
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Protocol

To make a protocol of.
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Procedure

A mode of conducting legal and parliamentary proceedings
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

To make or write protocols, or first drafts; to issue protocols.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A series of steps taken to achieve a particular end.
The lab procedure for testing samples was meticulously followed.
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Nov 13, 2023

Protocol

The original copy of any writing, as of a deed, treaty, dispatch, or other instrument.
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Oct 19, 2023

Procedure

A manner of proceeding in any action.
The legal procedure for filing a lawsuit was initiated.
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Nov 13, 2023

Protocol

The minutes, or rough draught, of an instrument or transaction.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

A preliminary document upon the basis of which negotiations are carried on.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

To make a protocol of.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

To make or write protocols, or first draughts; to issue protocols.
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

(computer science) rules determining the format and transmission of data
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Protocol

Forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by diplomats and heads of state
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Oct 19, 2023

Protocol

Code of correct conduct;
Safety protocols
Academic protocol
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Protocol

A system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures.
Diplomatic protocols were observed during the international summit.
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Protocol

A procedure for carrying out scientific experiments.
The lab adhered strictly to the testing protocol.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are procedures legally binding?

Procedures themselves are not usually legally binding, but they may be part of activities governed by law.
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What is a procedure in a workplace setting?

In a workplace, a procedure is a set of instructions employees follow to complete a task.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can protocols vary between different organizations?

Yes, protocols can vary and are often specific to an organization's standards and practices.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are protocols the same as laws?

No, protocols are not laws but guidelines or rules that are expected to be followed in specific contexts.
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Nov 13, 2023

Do procedures apply to emergency situations?

Yes, procedures are crucial in emergencies to ensure quick, efficient, and correct responses.
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Nov 13, 2023

Do procedures need to be documented?

Yes, documenting procedures is important for consistency, training, and reference.
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Nov 13, 2023

How important is protocol in scientific research?

In scientific research, protocol is essential for ensuring the validity and reliability of results.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can procedures be changed easily?

Procedures can be updated or changed, but usually require a review process to ensure efficacy.
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Nov 13, 2023

Do protocols change frequently?

Protocols, especially in technical fields, can change in response to new standards or technologies.
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Nov 13, 2023

Is following protocol mandatory in government settings?

Yes, in government settings, following protocol, especially in formal interactions, is typically mandatory.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are procedures important in safety management?

Procedures are vital in safety management to prevent accidents and handle emergencies.
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Nov 13, 2023

Is protocol important in computer networking?

Yes, in computer networking, protocol ensures effective and secure communication between systems.
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Nov 13, 2023

How do protocols affect data security?

Protocols play a key role in data security by defining how information is encrypted and transmitted.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can procedures be specific to individual tasks?

Yes, procedures are often tailored to specific tasks or operations.
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Nov 13, 2023

Is understanding protocol important for international business?

Understanding protocol is crucial in international business to maintain respect and professionalism.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are procedures applicable in educational settings?

Yes, procedures are used in educational settings for administrative tasks and classroom management.
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Nov 13, 2023

Do medical professionals follow specific protocols?

Yes, medical professionals follow specific protocols for patient care, treatments, and procedures.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are all employees expected to know all procedures?

Employees are generally expected to know procedures relevant to their roles and responsibilities.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can a procedure be informal?

Procedures can be informal, especially in smaller organizations or less formal settings.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can ignoring protocol lead to diplomatic issues?

Yes, ignoring diplomatic protocol can lead to misunderstandings or tensions in international relations.
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Nov 13, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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