If you’re like most companies, you need a powerful policy management system. The benefits are numerous: giving policy administrators the ability to quickly distribute policies to employees, collaborate on policy updates, and publish content to the community. If you’re also like most companies, you likely use Microsoft Office 365 – or certain components of it – to fulfill your business processes. A product commonly utilized by organizations and enterprise companies is Microsoft SharePoint.
SharePoint is a document management database and collaboration platform that many companies use to manage their documents including policies. This SharePoint system can be used as a personal cloud with storage, archiving and tracking abilities, as a network to handle internal communications and centralize information, and as groupware with features such as project management and shared mailboxes. With so many options to tailor SharePoint to fulfill custom duties, it’s no surprise that many companies have been using it to manage their policies and procedures, but is it really a suitable alternative to P&P software?
To answer this question, we will be comparing SharePoint with TotalCompliance by ComplianceBridge, a platform specifically designed and intended to streamline the policy management life cycle.
The Strengths of SharePoint
First, let’s begin by looking at where SharePoint’s strengths lie: in document management and creation. It’s important to note that while SharePoint has these features, most policy and Procedure software typically does, as well.
Document Storage: SharePoint has document libraries with management features that allow you to filter, sort and manage versions of policies and procedures but, versioning is not automatic.
- Version management to maintains all historical data in a lifetime archive. TotalCompliance will display the differences between versions, but the most current version will always be displayed by default.
- Regulations, forms and other documents can be linked to policies and procedures. Policies, procedures and documents can be linked by department and duty.
- TotalCompliance allows you to set auto-review dates and expiration dates for policies and procedures to keep the policy library current.
Workflows: During policy creation, SharePoint has automated workflows that dictate the set of steps a document should go through to gain approval from one or more people in the organization. To fully customize workflows, though, you need another product, SharePoint Designer and someone to competently use the tool to make customizations on staff or an outside consultant.
- During approval, automated workflows allow certain individuals and groups to review policies before others, and approval notifications keep the workflow running smoothly.
Collaboration: More than one person can work on a document at the same time. SharePoint also allows editors to see who else is making changes and what those changes are.
- Policy owners and writers can collaborate on a central policy document.
- Messaging and reminders keep everyone engaged throughout the creation and approval process.
- Specific tasks can be assigned by expertise, duty or department during policy creation and approval.
User Management: Individual users and groups can be assigned permissions permitting who can view, edit, and delete things in SharePoint. Clearly outlining Permission Levels is a customization at extra cost.
- This software includes accessibility and management controls including access control to gate certain policies by group and role, ensuring employees have full accessibility to the content that is relevant to them.
Where SharePoint Falls Short
Compared to policy and procedure management systems, SharePoint is very weak in the areas of policy distribution, employee compliance and reporting and data tracking. Typically, a policy and procedure management system such as TotalCompliance is prepared to manage the entire process from start to finish and does not require customization.
Templating: Unlike TotalCompliance, SharePoint lacks a rich templating system that allows policy creators to implement consistent formatting across all policies and procedures.
Distribution: SharePoint lacks an organized distribution and attestation process as a standard capability. TotalCompliance gives companies the ability to distribute policies and track their dissemination to employees. Policies can be sent to individuals, departments, groups or to everyone, depending on the topic. Employees will be notified of policy delivery and their review and attestation will be tracked.
Testing Comprehension: SharePoint includes no ability to create quizzes to ensure employee compliance of new policies and procedures without expensive customization.TotalCompliance gives users extensive control in the configuration of policy exams for employees. Over a dozen test metrics help users construct exams that are as simple as yes/no questions or as difficult as fill-in-the-blank. Questions can also be weighted for improved scoring.
Real-Time Monitoring: TotalCompliance allows the unique capability to monitor results in real-time. Policy administrators can evaluate exams as employees are working on them to measure performance, even before answers have been officially submitted.
Reporting: Tracking data in reports uniquely designed for proving compliance in the event of audits are an incredibly important factor to a robust policy management platform. Unlike SharePoint, TotalCompliance maintains detailed records of who has read, tested and signed off on new policies and procedures and generates custom reports. Users can easily prove distribution efforts and attestation.
Use P&P Software for Policy Management
Although your company may already be using SharePoint, attempting to configure it to manage your policies and procedures leaves you with gaps in areas such as employee compliance, reporting and audit tracking. Features vital to ensuring compliance such as targeted distribution efforts and policy quizzes will not be available to you, as well.
Using a policy and procedure software such as TotalCompliance by ComplianceBridge to create, distribute & store your policies yields several benefits to your company. Distribution and attestation can be more accurately tracked, quizzes can be as complex as needed with a variety of question types, and workflows are easily automated and customized to ensure policies are created and updated in a timely manner.
If you’re concerned about the limitations of policy and procedure software, TotalCompliance has the ability to do more than just managing policies. It can also create and disseminate fill-in forms, checklists, surveys, request forms, safety analyses, employee reviews and more. Content can also be published for the public via a public portal that integrates with the company website.
Ultimately, a P&P software is the best choice for your company to effectively manage policies and guarantee compliance. To learn how TotalCompliance is the best platform for the job, schedule a demo today!