Creating a Policy Oversight Committee

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on October 22, 2018

Processes related to policy creation, revision, distribution and updating can be time consuming and costly. Fortunately, thanks to modern software and technology, a lot of these processes for policy management can be streamlined.

To fully optimize your company’s policy process, though, you need more than just the right technology working for you. Your company needs a policy committee composed of the right people who will work in the best interest of the organization.

Why is a policy committee necessary?

Creating a policy oversight committee is a strategic process that, when done thoughtfully, can yield positive outcomes companywide in a number of ways:

  • Appropriate policy development: When a company has a policy committee of stakeholders that truly understand the values, mission and vision of the organization, they can develop policies that both align with the company’s long term goals and meet short term needs.
  • Consolidate communication: A policy oversight committee will keep decision making and problem solving discussions centralized and ordered.
  • Keep policies on track: A committee with an invested chairperson and stakeholders will have the necessary knowledge and experience to streamline the policy development process.
  • Ongoing policy management: When committee members are well versed in company policies, they’ll be able to prevent proliferation and obsoletion.
  • Maintain regulatory compliance & improve operational efficiency: The results of a policy committee that fulfills its function well are far-reaching. The policies they create and implement will ultimately increase departmental productivity and ensure the company doesn’t lapse in it’s compliance.

Who should be on the committee and why?

A policy committee is an important managerial body within a company. For that reason, the stakeholders that are a part of it should be thoroughly considered. While the exact appearance of a committee will change according to the structure and needs of a company, these are several guidelines recommended for the construction of any policy committee.

  1. The structure of the committee should mirror the structure of the company as closely as possible. This will ensure that no area of the company is being neglected and that every level of the company will have a voice to contribute to policy development.
  2. There should be a representative from each department on the committee. This representative should have a vested interest in ensuring the policies related to their department are managed and be able to offer their departmental expertise to companywide policies.
  3. There should be a stakeholder on the committee for each type of policy (or each type of manual). This can be similar to departmental stakeholders, but it doesn’t have to be. Stakeholders can also be responsible for more than one policy area or manual. Assigning responsibilities this way will protect the company from having gaps in their policy management and compliance.
  4. The committee chair should be someone in the company who has a focus in more than one area – not a department head. This chairperson could be someone from administration or compliance, perhaps. The goal of a chairperson with broad oversight abilities is a leader who has working knowledge of a variety of compliance issues, company culture and company vision.

How should a policy committee be conducted?

A well-constructed, well-intentioned oversight committee can still be hindered if it conducts its responsibilities inefficiently. Much like with the structure, the actions and procedures of a committee are dependent upon the specific needs of the company.

Time and duration: A policy committee should meet at least once a quarter, but meetings can become more frequent to meet policy management needs. Having meetings too often can actually result in a loss of productivity, though. Each meeting should last around an hour, and the hour should be spent effectively addressing the action items.

Purpose and focus: If the meeting appears to have no clear purpose or focus, don’t have the meeting. If the purpose can be articulated, the chairperson should announce it to the participants prior to the meeting. The purpose should work as a broad overview for the agenda.

Agenda: Having a concise agenda is the best way for a policy committee to avoid veering off into high-level or philosophical discussions. The meeting agenda should consist of concrete items related to reviewing and updating policies, problem solving and development, and decision making and reporting. It should avoid strategizing or brainstorming sessions – those should happen within the departments prior to an oversight committee meeting.

Chairing: The role of a chairperson is to lead the committee through the agenda, ensuring its responsibilities of policy development and management are always being met. This person effectively directs the stakeholders through discussion and has working knowledge of each agenda item. This chairperson also makes sure that every department and policy area is being represented adequately by the stakeholders.

Most importantly, group input: To have policies that work for the benefit of everyone, the policy oversight committee needs input from every stakeholder. A committee conducted through lopsided discussions will develop ineffectual policies that could result in a company’s loss of productivity or failure to meet compliance standards.

The right people need the right technology.

A policy committee that is constructed and conducted appropriately will develop and manage policies that work in the company’s best interest. Having a policy management software like TotalCompliance from ComplianceBridge will give your policy committee the tools its needs to do the job better.

TotalCompliance can assist the committee in every step of the process from policy development to distribution. It provides a rich templating system that makes collaboration between authors easy and organized. Collaborative tools include version control, messaging, reminders and notifications. In other words, its a policy committee’s ideal workspace.

The platform also offers an efficient way to disseminate policies to employees, ensuring that they not only receive the necessary documents but that they comprehend them. TotalCompliance has over a dozen test metrics you can use to configure your comprehension exams, and you can see and manage the results yourself.

Creating and running a policy committee requires a lot of time and effort, but TotalCompliance can automate many tasks surrounding policy management for the stakeholders.

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