Creating a policy and procedure manual for the organization is a complicated yet crucial task. The manual needs to be made to ensure that the organization and its employees behave in a legal, ethical, and compliance conscious manner. These manuals are referenced whenever an employee is confused about taking a step or making a decision, thus it is vital to get them right. The policies and procedures vary from business to business so there is no template which every business can simply copy and use.
To create a policy and procedure manual that is truly able to deliver a blueprint for the organizational culture it is important to take a few steps before writing anything down.
Step 1. Understanding the legal needs and requirements
There are two important facets of policies and procedures – the legal requirements and the parts that ensure that the company’s vision is carried out. Every company has their own policies which depend on the management style and goals of the organization. There are also a lot of policies and procedures which exist not because of what the organization wants but because the organization is legally required to comply with several laws and regulations. The first step is to get a lawyer involved, preferably a lawyer that has or is working with the organization. Local lawyers will know local business laws intimately and will be able to provide consultation on creating the manual.
Step 2. The more stakeholders the merrier
Many organizations find their employees trying to avoid or sidestep the policies and procedures written down in the manual. Most businesses simply reprimand the employee for not following the rules but that is not enough. In theory the manual should list the best practice approach towards every procedure. If employees are trying to ignore or sidestep the manual it is a sign that what is written down in the manual is not practical or efficient.
The solution to this problem is to include more stakeholders in the discussion about creating the manual. People who work at the ground level and at the front line have insights which the people working in management may not. If the manual is only made with input from management, it may not portray an accurate picture of the working environment and there may be situations where the manual is not applicable.
Step 3. Collaboration is necessary
Simply including all stakeholders in the discussion is not enough. There also needs to be proper workflow management which allows people to collaborate. A document management system is necessary. These systems allow multiple people to view, review, edit, and share the same document while tracking the changes made by everyone. This allows people to leave comments, make edits and leave then in for approval, and truly collaborate on creating a policy and procedure manual that works for all stakeholders of the organization.
Simply sending the documents via email and asking everyone to contribute does not work. People cannot see updates as they happen, so it is possible that two people may make conflicting edits. It is also very inconvenient and slow to send files back and forth. Document management systems eliminate the need for sending files or updates completely and allows people to focus on making the latest version of the document better.
Step 4. Using the right GRC tools
Policy and procedure manuals are intrinsically linked to governance, risk, and compliance management, thus there are many GRC based tools for policy and procedure management. These tools go above and beyond normal document management systems because they have been designed especially to be used to manage policies and procedures. These tools are not difficult to use or acquire – the cloud based tools simply need to be subscribed to.
Creating a manual that will become a blueprint for the ideal organizational culture should be the goal of every organization. If you want to see what proper document management workflow can do for your policies, procedures, and other important documents, get in touch with the 360factors team. The Predict360 suite includes document management for policies and our team will show you a demo to outline the cloud-based system’s benefits for your organization. You can also read our white paper Reasons to Use Policy and Procedure Software for a more detailed look into the benefits of these systems.
About the company
360factors, Inc. (Austin, TX) helps companies improve business performance by reducing risk and ensuring compliance. Predict360, its flagship software product, vertically integrates regulations and requirements, policies and procedures management, risks and controls, audit management and inspections, and on-line training and qualifications, in a single cloud-based platform based on artificial intelligence.