In an ever-growing, regulated, remote business world, the days of paper and file cabinets have become as archaic as Hotmail and dial-up modems. In just a few decades, the way your organization operated has likely gone the way of the dinosaurs. That’s just the way of the world. The way we do business is constantly evolving – and so should you! Organizations that take their time to adapt and modernize with the world around them run the massive risk of significantly falling behind their competition’s increased efficiency and improved processes.
The best way to mitigate the chance of being left in the dust is to forgo traditional policy management tools, like paper and digital spreadsheets. Implementing a policy and procedure software solution offers a customizable, streamlined and efficient alternative. However, not all policy and procedure management solutions are made equal. There are a number of important characteristics that any potential solution should possess to ensure their users stay ahead of the curve.
If your organization is not currently employing an automated, cloud-based software solution to manage policies and procedures, you must ask yourself:
- Is the review and approval process for your policies and procedures smooth and straightforward for everyone involved?
- Can you track and manage employee compliance on all of your important documents across your organization?
- Is it easy to update, replace, and distribute newer versions of existing policies and procedures?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to seriously consider investing in a solution that will actually make your life easier instead of harder. But what does an effective policy and procedure management software look like?
Any effective Policy and Procedure management software solution will:
It’s hard – nigh impossible, even – for an employee to follow a rule if they don’t know what it is. Likewise, it’s difficult to measure policy and procedure compliance when employees aren’t clear on what they’re supposed to be complying with. The ideal software solution should provide an easy way for employees to retrieve and review relevant policies or procedures. Features such as a centralized, searchable policy library for all relevant documents also ensures that employees always have easy access to the information they need.
Utilize Version Controls
One of the most common mistakes made in policy and procedure management is having multiple versions of a single policy or procedure in existence. Whether a policy is still being drafted or has been published and available to employees for years, it’s vital for you and everyone in your organization to understand which version is the most current. Effective policy management software should display only the most current version available for the end user. Also, it should easily allow policy and procedure managers to update and replace older versions of the policy. Research software solutions that allow you to use Office 365, Google Docs, and translate to HTML.
Another feature that will optimize policy management is the ability to archive outdated versions of policies. This will ensure that the policy’s entire history is available if it’s ever needed for reference, or required by regulators.
Automation is everything! Streamlined and efficient workflow is the lifeblood of a functioning, up-to-date business. You will aid your business greatly by automating the review and approval cycle, so that your policies and procedures can be thoroughly reviewed and approved by your subject matter experts before publishing. Automation gives you the opportunity for customization, so that you can change your workflow when necessary to address the needs of various divisions and departments.
This automation will allow organizations to easily set up groups of subject matter experts to give advice on business critical documents. The ability to automate reminders, notifications and reports related to your workflow could also greatly streamline policy management.
Handle Distribution for You:
Policy distribution is an oft-overlooked element of a successful compliance management system. How your organization delivers documents to employees can have a long-reaching impact on issues associated with policy management such as audits, compliance and costs. The ideal management software contains the tools to keep this process from getting too chaotic. Essential features include the ability to establish a distribution mechanism that ensures the correct people receive the correct policies. It should also be able to create groups to differentiate which members of your organization receive policies, procedures, training manuals, and all other documents critical to the operation of your business.
Track Your Efforts:
If you want to successfully manage compliance, you can’t just set controls and policies and then leave them. Implementing regular auditing processes to monitor the policies, procedures and controls in place ensures these mechanisms are working as intended. A compliance tracking tool is designed to handle this element of policy and procedure management. Tracking mechanisms can do everything from monitoring that end users have received, read, tested comprehension, and signed off on policies to creating and scheduling audits.
Ultimately, the power of your policy management software will stem from its reporting capabilities. Your business needs to be able to create and run reports on question sets, allowing management to analyze dynamically. This allows you to recognize patterns you would have missed simply using an Excel spreadsheet – or, God forbid, paper. The policy management software your business implements should also contain an automatic reporting feature that will shed light on your organization’s compliance performance for any or all specific documents.
Our Policy and Procedure Software Does it All
Finding the perfect policy and procedure management software to fit the unique needs of your organization may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. ComplianceBridge is designed specifically for your ease of use, and we just so happen to include all of the capabilities listed above. From policy creation to publishing to acknowledgement and reporting, our software has everything you need to optimize your organization’s policy lifecycle — and then some. Sign up for a free ComplianceBridge demo today to see for yourself what policy and procedure management can look like with the right tools and technology.