In research, one of the most difficult challenges is verifying that results have statistical significance. Failure to prove acquired data wasn’t random, or caused by some natural change during the experiment, has led to many controversies and retractions. Due diligence in research involves many steps, including a host of statistical techniques to improve testing methods, careful setup of research methodology to avoid human-made errors, and reproducibility to enhance the ability of other labs to mirror the experiment.
Businesses face many of the same problems when it comes to testing policy effectiveness. A shrewd policymaker will ask questions like, “are these observed benefits a result of our implemented policy? If so, how can we modify our policy to enhance these benefits?” This process of questioning and refinement is utilized by researchers every day. We will explore how you can apply proven strategies from basic research toward the testing of policy effectiveness, and delve into the use of a policy manager software for improved streamlining.
How do you test the effectiveness of a policy?
If you are starting a diet, you will look for a scale to test and measure the effectiveness of your diet plan every day. Measuring your weight is a simple test to verify that your diet is working. What happens when you are working with something more complicated, like a workplace policy intended to reduce the risk of a security breach?
You start by developing a clear purpose for each policy and setting robust goals in advance. For example, a cyber security policy that requires employees create a new password at regular intervals has a clear purpose: To limit the long-term impact of a security breach by making a leaked account and password obsolete. Most of the goals should be easily quantified. In this example, the goal would be to have 100% user compliance and zero lag time between password renewal notification and user compliance.
By setting goals ahead of time, you can help avoid confirmation bias—confusing change that may occur naturally overtime as a result of implemented policy. For that same reason, it’s important to start monitoring early. Early monitoring enables you to set a baseline to compare policy effects over time.
Monitoring comprises more than half a dozen components. First, you must create clear goals and a purpose for each, as mentioned earlier. Goals help determine what needs to be monitored, and will help you develop appropriate indicators to measure. Once you have identified all the indicators that you’ll track, you can create a testing methodology to determine how best to translate each indicator into raw data. With a solid methodology in place, you will then need to create a consistent way to collect data.
The monitoring process ends once you’ve gathered the data for analysis. The final report should provide an analysis that can be reviewed on a continuous basis. Based on your findings, you’ll make changes and adjustments as needed (1). Although this process works very well for policymakers, it is time-consuming and can prove insurmountable depending on the size of the organization and number of indicators being tracked. For this reason, policymakers have increasingly turned to software packages as a means to improve their workflow.
Simplify the way you test policy effectiveness with TotalCompliance
TotalCompliance simplifies the way you develop and track policies in a centralized location accessed by everyone in your organization.
This cloud-based platform allows you to import and create thorough policy documentation on a centralized database that can then be reviewed and approved by various stakeholders such as department managers, senior managers, and board of directors. Once each document passes through the appropriate checks, you can publish and notify specific people in the organization about its existence. Finally, the metrics and reporting tools enable you to quickly gauge compliance and spot areas that need your attention. You can even create your own detailed questionnaires and forms to build-in monitoring and analytical elements all within the same platform (3).
Interested in learning more about how TotalCompliance can improve the way you test the effectiveness of your policies? Take a tour.
- “Policy and plan effectiveness monitoring.” Policy and Plan Effectiveness Monitoring. Accessed September 07, 2017. http://www.qualityplanning.org.nz/index.php/monitor/policy-and-plan-effectiveness.
- “How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Program Using Statistical and Practical Significance.” Social Solutions. February 03, 2016. Accessed September 07, 2017. http://www.socialsolutions.com/blog/how-to-evaluate-the-effectiveness-of-a-program-using-statistical-and-practical-significance/.
- “Powerful Policy Management Software from ComplianceBridge.” ComplianceBridge. Accessed September 7, 2017. http://compliancebridge.com/products/policy-management-software/.