Is Level 2 documentation enough? Level 3 document I want to delete is a flow chart


Ernie C.

I have taken over our ISO system and have a question on a change. I have little formal training and will be attending a class soon on ISO documentation and implementation. In reviewing the documentation for an upcoming audit, I noticed a reference to a document that was not on our network or in a hardcopy.

The user was referred to my posistion so they could obtain a copy. This is due to its format and the limited access to the program to view & print it. (It is a hold-over from many changes ago and was never converted to our computer system and network) The Level 2 is text and describes word for word what is required to complete the task. The Level 3 document that I thought of deleting is a flowchart (that can only be viewed on one computer due to the req'd program) and it repeats what's said in Level 2.

Can I delete it and leave only the Level 2 procedure, or must I have a Level 3?
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Craig H.


Hi, neighbor, and welcome to the cove!

I assume you are talking about ISO 9001? Anyway, if the document is one of the few specificly required by the standard, than the "level 2" document will suffice. If it is not one of the required documents, than you don't have to have it at all, as far as the standard is concerned, kinda (read on).

The questions you should be asking is if the document is needed for an effective process, is it (are they) usable in their current form, and how do they fit into an effective process?

The new (2000) standard requires far fewer procedures. It also, however, requires effectiveness, which is where you should concentrate your efforts, IMHO.

You can also use the search function on this site to get a lot more information on documentation, by those more eloquent and knowledgeable than I.

Great first post. Hope this helps, and good luck!!

Craig H.
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Ernie C.

Thanks for the reply.

oops, I forgot to mention ISO 9001:1994. We will recert this year under the new standard, and I'm glad to have this forum as a resource for that.

When I ask if we can remove the level 3 document, I base this on my assumption that all procedures are broken down into 3 levels. Level 1 being general, Level 2 describing the process in more detail and setting parameters (What & When), and lastly Level 3 that explains how a procedure will be carried out. In this case, my Level 2 tells what the procedure is and how to do it (in text). The Level 3 is only a flowchart version of the text, so it seems the Level 2 will be enough without breaking it down further in Level 3(which it really doesn't - it just repeats in another form).

Am I making sense? We need this element, but not all 3 levels!?!

Craig H.


I don't think the standard even mentions these levels, but your docs might. I would check the "procedures procedure" to see if removing the document would violate any internal rules. (If so, I would consider changing that). The "level system" is something that has evolved to help us organize how our documents fit together.

As you move towards the transition, you might consider trying to simplify whatever you can. Again, the main goal is to try to make the system as effective as possible.

Something else you might want to consider is making the flowchart the level 2 doc, if it is easier to use and contains all of the relevant info. We have several docs that have both text and a flowchart, so that is a possability, as well.

Hope I have helped you.


Mike S.

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Welcome, Ernie. I agree with Craig. "Levels" of docs. are not required by ISO, but maybe your system defines them and their purpose, so as Craig said, read your "how we do documentation" document. The short answer is you do not need both the text and flowchart versions unless you say you do. Use what worksd best for you.

Ernie C.

Thanks to both for the replies. The light is dim, but I think I see your point. The hardest thing I have found about the ISO 9001 system is that it's only what you say it is. They don't tell you how to write it but only the minimum of what you must say, if that makes sense. I am slowly learning the ins and outs, but with the pressure of the approaching recert/transition I fear that I may not come up to speed quick enough. The only person that had a good understanding of our system, he wrote it, left and is with TUV. I contact him for help and he's a good resource. There are a few others here with some knowledge, but they have a lot of "passed down" information and I question it sometimes. I guess I'm the new kid and it's now my turn at running this ship (ISO), so I'm a little more energized about it than the others.

Thanks again for the help....

Craig H.


You have found a great resource here. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and look at the search function - there's always a good chance a question has already been discussed (this one I don't recall, though).

Again, good first question, and good luck!

Craig H.


Having both isn't bad

Rather than trash those text procedures and because flow charts are "in" with the new process approach, I would keep them both. It's only an extra page. The only concern should be that they don't contradict each other. Where the text may not define inputs/outputs and interaction adequately, for some, the chart can be shown to the inquisitor. If I get my long shot, I intend to attach a flowchart to each Level 2 procedure, just in case. Kind of like having the same thing written in two languages for viewer's choice. And yes, the Level 1 Manual...Level 2 Procedures.....Level 3 Work Instructions....Level 4 Documents is just something used to keep eveybody on the same page. A search will reveal a couple of threads where this is discussed, extensively. I remember one post where the member stated that ISO does, indeed, require it. His explanation looked pretty good, but I had made up my mind already. In fact, it was one of my first starter threads. Welcome to the Cove and the wonderful world of opinions.:vfunny: :smokin:


Gotta go with what energy said. Keep them both but move the flowchart into the Level 2, eliminating the Level 3.

Jim continues to make sure that we understand the difference between process and procedure. I found it easiest to document a page that listed the inputs, outputs, critical measures, methods of measurement, and related targets and objectives for each identified process. Between the flowchart (procedure?) and these listed items, I believe that the process was adequately identified.


You know what Jim ? You're right. And where did "blue" come from? And " fixing", and "tinkering" and "position"? Ooh ooh - "caterpillar"! That's a good one.

What the heck is up with words anyway? Has the whole world gone mad in using terms that everyone else can understand??? Why don't we all just make up our own stuff that only we know about and speak gibberish to each other. From now on I believe I will say "squeemly" instead of Level 1 and "pooshbin" instead of Level 2.

I think you're on to something here Jim and I like it! The elevator doesn't go to the fourth floor - it goes to leemly shot.
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