Good policies and procedures should do something for your organization such as streamlining the access to information, improving communication, promoting accountability, or reducing costs (e.g., human resources). In some cases, policies are also a necessary step toward regulatory compliance. In this article, we discuss the steps you can take to better implement policies in your organization with standard operation procedure / SOP creation software. You will learn about the core components of a policy, discover effective writing strategies, and find out about better implementation strategies. Finally, you will learn how automated software can help with all these functions.
Anatomy of a good policy
The best policies are written in a clear and concise manner using simple language. Always remember that the purpose of a policy is to inform, not entertain. Focus on delivering the message without fluff or adornments. To help you stay on message, remember that good policy statements define the rule instead of going onto tangents on how to implement said rule.
Good policies are accessible by the entire organization and demonstrate authority. These elements are achieved by following a design and format template, and by ensuring that the policy is properly cataloged in its respective repository. Consistency is a mark of professionalism and authority and contribute to organizational adoption and acceptance.
Each policy should also have a corresponding policy expert or policy owner, the person responsible for maintaining the policy up-to-date and resolving issues. For larger organizations with multiple policy owners, a policy template and writing style guide are essential for maintaining a unified framework.
Style and templates
The way you write and how you present that content go hand-in-hand.
At a minimum your writing style guide should point to some book of grammar such as the Elements of Style or the Chicago Manual of Style. These guides will help keep your policy owners working with the same writing tools. Beyond these style guides, consider expanding with a subset of rules that highlights the importance of simple language. Additionally, stress the importance of referencing individuals by office or role, rather than by name to improve the document’s lifespan. The same goes for any item that may become outdated within a few months or even years. If specific information is required for a policy (e.g., the location of equipment pickup/drop-off), then separate that element into another section of the policy. In fact, aim to keep your policy document as modular as possible.
The better policy templates make generous use of white space to help present information in a structured way that allows readers to quickly focus on each aspect of the policy as needed. A modular design means reserving specific information for specific blocks of content. Your policy statement, for instance, may refer to a location. The exact location—which may change every few months—is displayed in a separate section of the policy document reserved and constantly updated with the most up-to-date information.
Clearing the path to new policies
Eventually, there will be new would-be policy owners at your organization. How do you usher in this new wave of policy writers?
Choose a policy coordinator officer, either yourself or someone else equally aware of the organization’s standard language and terminology, templates, and style guides. This person should be the first point of contact for new policy owners, offering training and guidance as well as maintaining and updating the master policy writing guide.
Develop a standard schedule for new policy writers to adhere that includes time for research and outlining, verification, draft review, and approvals. Finally, don’t neglect to include the proper submission format to the policy coordinator officer once final approvals have been received.
Simplify your job with Standard Operating Procedures / SOP Creation Software
If everything listed in this article seems a bit daunting, that’s because it is. The time commitment required to maintain policies at even a small organization can demand countless hours. Many of those hours are often spent doing simple tasks such as sending reminders to your policy reviewers. Of course, there is an easier way. Just as you have probably discovered Word Templates to save yourself time with formatting, there is a SOP creation software solution for policies and procedures. Except, this software doesn’t stop after solving one problem.
TotalCompliance, produced by ComplianceBridge, offers a deep configurable templating system that handles all the styling and formatting as well as all the collaboration. Rich built-in collaborative tools such as version control, messaging, notifications, and reminders ensures that authors do not work over one another. The platform is made with different people with different roles in mind to enforce consistency so that each person focuses on what they do best. In essence, it is a policy coordinator’s dream.
Interested in streamlining your policy implementation system with SOP creation software? Reach out to ComplianceBridge today and ask for a demo.
- “Guide to Writing Policy and Procedure Documents.” UC Santa Cruz. Accessed July 28, 2018. https://policy.ucsc.edu/resources/images/GuidetoWritingPolicy.pdf.
- “Policy and Procedure Management.” ComplianceBridge. Accessed July 28, 2018. http://compliancebridge.com.