The last section of the procedure is concerned with bringing the process to its conclusion. Though it seems superfluous, it is important to tell the operator when the task or activity is finished.
Before one can describe how to finish and shut down the process, it must be determined: what constitutes a finished process?
There is no universal right or wrong answer to this question, but an answer must be developed to tell the procedure writer when to stop writing! In terms of a department or organization’s operation, one discrete process is finished at some point, and any follow-up activity constitutes a separate task or activity (requiring a separate procedure and treatment as a separate training exercise).
Here are some of the things to consider when defining the end of a process:
- What action or condition tells the operator the central process is completed? (For example, if the process is baking cookies, when baking is completed and the cookies are removed from the oven, that may be the signal that the process is finished.)
- What must be done with the product resulting from the process? (In this example, what is done with the cookies? Where do they go?)
- What condition must process equipment and work environment be left in (or returned to) at the end of the process? (Clean, stored cookie sheets, mixing tools cleaned and put away, floor swept, etc.)
- Where do left over materials go?
- Where does documentation related to the process go?
- Must areas be locked up, or equipment locked out?
Wherever the organization decides the task ends, the procedure must describe how activities are performed to return the equipment, materials, etc. to their ground state. This usually means bringing all tools and work area to the conditions required to begin the process (start the procedure over again).
If all of the activities are completed, the task is completed. And once all activities are documented, the procedure is completed. Congratulations! Now onto the next procedure!