Policy and procedures are the backbone of any well-structured organization. Having a system in place to manage these ever-evolving documents is critical. When used properly, a policy management system can help save time and money while mitigating potential risk for your employees and company. Yet, despite its proven advantages, organizations will often not prioritize policy and procedure management, and without modern solutions overseeing your policies, they can be overly complex to organize and maintain.
At its core the Policy Management process can be broken down into four simple steps:
Your organization has identified a specific need. Often this occurs by identifying a potential risk or a demand to standardize a particular procedure. The first important step to successful policy and procedure management is to create effective policies. These policies and procedures should be consistent and make clear to your employees how your staff and your organization are expected to proceed.
Once a new policy is created, the approval process should begin. A huge pain-point for many organizations is manually trying to organize a large number of employees to review and attest policies. A good policy management system will ensure that the right people are notified to review the right policies. This stage can have a lot of back of forth to different people and its crucial to guarantee everyone is approving the current version of the policy. Without a policy and procedure management system, this process can be tedious and confusing, but well-developed systems will automate version control, so you only ever see the recent version.
Now that a new policy or procedure is approved, the new information must reach the correct employees. Quickly being able to disseminate critical new policies is vital, especially during times of disruption which can lead to a remote workforce or other communication difficulties. Having a central location for staff to be able to easily search, access, and use these documents helps automate their workflows and spend less time working on tiresome administrative tasks. With a policy management system, once a new policy is published and circulated you can easily view who has seen and accepted the new and updated policy. You can even test staff to assess how well they understand the new information. This helps to make sure all employees are up-to-date and following proper procedures which is crucial to mitigating potential risk.
Finally, policies and procedures are not fixed documents. As organizations change and grow, so should its policies. In addition, keeping up with regulatory standards can mean having to periodically review and revise policies – sometimes as often as annually. With a policy and procedure manager, you are notified to review a policy that is expiring soon, so you can archive the outdated policy and efficiently repeat the first three steps – develop, attest, and circulate -to ensure your policies never go out of date. Once again ensuring that employees have access to the most recent version is critical to effective policy and procedure management.
These four steps are the key to successful policy and procedure management. All of this when left to a compliance officer or another individual staff can be overwhelming and difficult to keep up with. A policy and procedure management system is a simple solution to help your organization create a structure that all of your employees will value. Without one it is easy for policies to be inefficient, inaccessible to the right employees, or become outdated. These are all unwanted exposures to your organization maintaining compliance and lead to large liability risks and can be mostly avoided.
Policies and procedures generally aren’t most people’s favorite daily task to have to work on, but whether we like it or not they are an essential in every organization. Luckily there are solutions to streamline and automate the process which takes the burden off a few individuals and benefits everyone. If these are issues you face in your daily workflow, consider connecting with us and trying a free live demo to see how all of your problems are handled in real-time.