10 Must-Have Features of a Policy Procedure Management System

10 Must Have Features Effective Policy Procedure Management System

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on July 1, 2016

Every organization has policies and procedures (“tone from the top”) that management promulgates to ensure that all team members work on a consistent basis to fulfill management’s vision to operate and achieve success. Many policies and procedures are developed internally to address local needs, while others are developed to meet broad regulations issued by government regulators. Well run companies create a culture of compliance that provides operational boundaries and structure so the company functions smoothly and avoids the exposures created when it operates outside the rules.

Every day there are examples of policy violations or non-compliance that are in the news. Remember, for example, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whole Foods, Chipotle? All were found to be in violation of food handling regulations issued by the Federal government. They all received substantial fines. Could an improved Policy and Procedure Management System have prevented the violations? Possibly. Legal/financial exposure from regulation violations can be mitigated if there is a strong Policy and Procedure Management backbone in place.
Here are the top 10 features that a fully functioning Policy and Procedure Management system must provide so that policies are known to all, easily accessed and always current and correct.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 1: Easy to Implement

Effective policy and procedure management can be delivered from the cloud, easily implemented and fully supported—no software to install, no local IT support or computer skills required. Many smaller organizations have no internal IT support so a system that includes Implementation and support is invaluable. Free Training should be part of the support package.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 2: Central Repository and Standard Format

One centralized location to manage policies and procedures, as well as other business critical documents. All content is stored in one on-line location, accessible via the internet, with no additional software installation required. Data is in a consistent format, organized in an easy to locate manner. Content is easily searchable, saving your employees valuable time.

No more decreased productivity due to lost or hard to find documents. Document editors, reviewers, and stakeholders can all collaborate on one central version of the document. Target individuals for editing, review, and approval, whose changes will be made on the one central version. Never again have multiple versions of the same document floating around, with versions lost or multiple edits that cannot be mediated.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 3: Acknowledgement

Policy management systems must require users to verify that they have received a policy and agree to it (think software license acceptance). This acknowledgement must include the date and offer a further capability to quiz the user on the content of the policy. Without this capability the user may claim he never received the policy so was not aware of the rule. One of the police officers in the recent Baltimore police case was acquitted because although there was a new policy in effect regarding transporting prisoners, the prosecutor could not prove that the policy was distributed and received by the defendant and so he was not in non-compliance as charged. This supports the point that policies must be acknowledged to be effective.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 4: Testing

High performance systems like ComplianceBridge support testing on content so that policies are well understood and users are compliant. This is a critical feature to verify understanding of policies such as workplace discrimination.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 5: Groups and Roles

Policies need to be in a consistent format and available to users by their group and role in the organization—only those policies that apply to a user are made available to him. Employees only see content that is targeted for them and are not asked to review policy that is unrelated to their function. Organizations that bulk publish policy to a website actually reduce compliance by cluttering the message they are trying to send.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 6: Powerful Workflow

An important and necessary feature in any good Policy and Procedure Management System is back end workflow to manage the process, from document creation, edit, review / collaborate / approve, publish, revise and archive. If these tasks are done manually and documents are delivered in hardcopy or email, then the entire process lacks efficiency and clarity. The result is slow delivery and updates, as well as inconsistent application of policies.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 7: Policy Archives and Versioning

In TotalCompliance, all current policy is live and all historical content is archived. In the event of an action pertaining to a prior time period, the organization can produce the policy and demonstrate what policy was in effect at a given point in time. Versioning allows all historical data of a document to be maintained in a lifetime archive, while only displaying the most current live version to your employees. Differences between versions are easily tracked and displayed for users. Set up reminders, auto-review dates, or expiration dates to manage and ensure content is up to date.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 8: Link Regulations to Policy

Regulations from governments drive policy development. Links to regulatory standards help ensure that when changes in regulations occur, policy administrators can quickly review all policies and make updates as necessary. TotalCompliance provides grouping, tagging and searching by audit, standard, reference or regulation so policies are always in sync and current.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 9: Data Security and Integrity

Cloud based Policy Management Systems requires very strong security including separate code base and database for each site, SSL protocol, strong password management, and data encryption.   protocols like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) and others. At ComplianceBridge we take security very seriously. Our goal is to protect customer information while allowing access via the Internet.

Policy and Procedure Management System
Feature 10: Support and Training

ComplianceBridge delivers first class training and support. We provide free training for life and access to ComplianceBridge technical experts via telephone, email, or web. We deliver online and onsite support to resolve complex technical issues. Everyone gets rapid acknowledgement and response to issues.

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