The goal of both policy and legislation is to establish a formal basis for achieving the objectives of any governmental or non-governmental organization, institution or business which adopts and enforces them. Consequently, policy and legislation achieve their purpose through two distinctly different approaches. However it must be underscored that they are often developed simultaneously and can complement each other.
A policy is a streamlined set of guidelines for decision making and achieving rational outcomes. However, policies do not always outline what is actually done but instead focus on what needs to be done and why these activities are so critical. The how, where and when for achieving objectives are clearly outlined in procedures, strategies, plans or protocols.
Whereas policy can only guide the decision-making process, legislation can serve many additional purposes which include: regulation, authorization, prohibition, provision, sanction, declaration or restriction.
Plans are documents prepared by an authority, sector, organization or enterprise that sets out goals and specific objectives with related actions to accomplish these objectives.