Document management is how a company stores and manages its corporate policies and procedures. It is how management communicates the rules and regulations under which they operate. While this used to be achieved predominantly through a paper filing system, technology has helped corporations transition to paperless file management systems that act in practice like organized, virtual filing cabinets. Files are stored electronically and are accessible remotely.
A file management system seems to have benefits for a company, beyond alleviating the obvious pitfalls of old-fashioned paper filing systems of the past. These systems store important documents in a centralized database for employees. This, in turn, makes workplace communication much more efficient and increases accessibility.
Although it is vital to the efficient operation of your business, a file management system is not the perfect solution for every paper processing problem a corporation faces, especially regarding risk management, compliance and the policies and procedures that support them. If you’re attempting to manage your corporate policies and procedures with a file management system, there are several shortcomings to contend with and they are costly, time consuming and can put the company at risk.
A major function of policy management is the distribution of new policies and procedures, organizing them by groups and roles, and requesting acknowledgement. These processes also happen to be something most file management systems don’t address. For corporate policies to be the most effective, they need to reach the right employees in the right role. If your company is only using a file management system, the delivery and notification of new or updated content must be done manually. Attestation must also be tracked manually which is time consuming, inaccurate and costly.
We have written on the pros and cons of manual policy distribution in another blog that you can read here. Needless to say, though, when you can’t ensure that employees are receiving and reviewing new policies, it can lead to problems down the line. Gaps in the initial communication of new information will result in the inability to prove compliance should an incident or audit occur.
A file management system enables corporate policies and procedures to be securely stored and accessible to employees but does not ensure that these documents are ever read and understood. Any employee training on new content has to be done outside the system. Some file management systems will track who views documents, but most are unable to fulfill any other tracking requirements such as acknowledgement, edits, approvals and sign-off.
An important factor of employee training that will keep the corporation audit-ready is being able to prove comprehension of the new policies and procedures. The most efficient way to achieve this is through systematic testing by employees of policy content. This will show they actively read and understand what their responsibilities are, leading to a compliant workplace. If your company is using a file management system to manage corporate policies though, all testing will have to be administered and recorded manually.
File management systems can typically account for only a few actions: who accessed a document and new changes made to it. This information is insubstantial to create an audit trail that proves your company communicated policies and procedures to either company rules,laws or regulations.
Proving your company took all the necessary steps to abide with regulatory and legal requirements calls for more than instituting the proper corporate policies. A file management system can only carry you so far through the process. In order to protect the company and assure compliance, every part of policy management must be documented, tracked and preserved.
Policy management is a unique application area where a file management system is not well equipped to handle the basic requirements. The database must be kept up to date, and since there are usually no reminders or powerfuls workflows, the maintenance becomes very difficult. File management systems typically do not allow files to be shared and tracked through staging. These functions can be added if an organization is willing to pay for customization and expensive support.
File management systems are not designed to handle notifications and reminders at different points in a document’s lifecycle, though. While this can be a place to store policies, there are no access controls regulating access to more sensitive policies and files. Therefore, most employees are granted unfettered access to this database. Organizational features that group policies by role or department are nonexistent, and file management systems also lack many management controls such as expiration dates, version tracking and version control.
An Alternative to a File Management System: Policy and Procedure Management System
For the issues we’ve laid out, a different kind of management system may be better suited for your company. A Policy and Procedure Management System is uniquely designed to manage corporate policies and procedures with greater efficiency, accuracy and at lower cost. A Policy and Procedure Management System ensures employees understand their responsibilities, increasing compliance and mitigating compliance risk.
Unlike a file management system, a Policy and Procedure Management System automates distribution of all corporate policies and procedures, allowing dissemination efforts to be as targeted as needed within an organization. The system can also handle the task of notifying employees automatically. A Policy and Procedure Management System will track attestation in addition to who viewed documents. Test or quizzes can also be created and customized for any policy to prove comprehension.
On the topic of compliance, a Policy and Procedure Management System is uniquely designed to keep a company audit-ready. It keeps a record of every policy from its creation, distribution, revisions, distributions and employee testing and comprehension. Reporting and data tracking can become very specific, even getting down to a granular level.
A Policy and Procedure Management System even provides more in depth tools for document management. Expiration and auto-review dates can be set to help maintain a current database. Policy storage with robust access controls give employees instant accessibility to corporate policies while protecting more sensitive assets.
When administered correctly, a Policy and Procedure Management can expose problems that may be symptomatic of deeper issues. It is also equipped to help a company resolve those problems before something costly can go wrong. When auditors come knocking, the reporting and data tracking a Policy and Procedure Management provides will ensure management is always prepared. By adopting a Policy and Procedure Management, a company will ultimately minimize violations and reduce harm by helping all employees remain compliant.
Try a Policy and Procedure Management System Like TotalCompliance
A Policy and Procedure Management System includes all the tools and capabilities of a file management system, but it is equipped to do much more. While it is possible to design a Policy and Procedure Management on top of a file management system, it would take a lot of manual effort and development time and expense to accomplish. A Policy and Procedure Management such as TotalCompliance by ComplianceBridge comes fully assembled with all the features and tools your company needs to manage policies and procedures, including training and support.
TotalCompliance, by ComplianceBridge enhances the creation of well-constructed corporate policies which can lead to a policy driven organization. A policy driven organization gives employees the power of knowledge, helping them to better understand their legal and regulatory obligations and provides a framework for success.
If you’re finding that managing documents alone is not doing enough to expose and educate your employees on corporate policies and procedures, try TotalCompliance. Request a demo today and learn how your company can better ensure compliance.