One hundred and twenty years ago, Connecticut signed the first law establishing speed limits for motor vehicles in America. This new law, designed to protect the majority of people who still walked or used a horse and carriage, limited drivers to 12 miles per hour in cities and a heart-pounding 15 miles per hour in the country. Luckily for all of us, those laws changed with time. Your company’s policies and procedures should also change with time. Establishing a strong policy and procedure review process ensures your business remains as compliant and competitive as possible.
Updating policies doesn’t mean that you have to rewrite everything. If it did, policy review cycles would be measured in decades. It means looking at your policies, procedures, and supplemental documentation to find out what works, what you don’t need, and what needs modification. Doing this has multiple benefits, such as helping to improve business processes and stay in line with the best practices in your industry.
Knowing what to do during the review process or even when can be overwhelming. Reading through pages procedures, especially if they’re not digital, can be exhausting. And because every business is different, there isn’t a step-by-step guide to tell you what to do. However, learning the five W’s of policy and procedure review will help guide the way.
When Do I Start the Policy and Procedure Review process?
Having no respect for the hard work people put into writing policies and procedures for their business, sometimes the world decides to change. With this comes new laws, regulations, technology, and norms that can affect how we should be doing things; when policy fails to reflect these changes, our risk rises.
So how often should you review policies? For most, it’s best to have a review cycle of one to three years. This doesn’t mean this should be the only time you review your policies. When a severe violation of company policy occurs, or — as was the case for most organizations in 2020 — a significant change happens, it’s vital to review policies and ensure that they reflect your current needs.
Who Can I Use as a Resource?
Being an expert on every bit of minutiae that goes on day to day is a respectable albeit unrealistic goal for most. Whether it is because your policy isn’t easily searchable or you’re unfamiliar with what the policy speaks to, trying to determine what is and isn’t outdated may not be a straightforward task.
Thankfully, you’re on a team. Reach out to the policy owners, such as department heads or managers, for advice throughout the process. Having the benefit of focus, they are experts in what is and isn’t beneficial for their departments. Roping them into the policy review process allows you to write policies that help, instead of hurt, the company.
Why Should I Change a Policy?
Eventually, regardless of how hard we try, the policies we write will no longer be the best tools to help us achieve our mission. They may even hinder growth by stifling new ideas or processes to improve cost and efficiency. Antiquated policies can also harm employee morale by making their job more difficult or being needlessly restrictive.
When trying to determine whether or not a policy or procedure should be changed or deleted, ask yourself these questions:
- How does it help my business?
- Does it negatively impact my employees?
- Is it negatively impacting the business?
- Can it be updated and improved?
- Is it still relevant today?
These questions will help you analyze your policies and decide what, if anything, needs to be changed.
What Tells Me a Policy is Working?
Without watching everyone at once, knowing what policies work and don’t work can feel like a roll of the dice. Is the wording easy to understand? Does it match reality? What we may think of as a well-written policy may not be as clear and concise as we hope and can result in ignored policies. Even the best policy, if implemented poorly, will fail.
You don’t have to wait for an incident to identify weak policy points. Doing regular audits can give a clear picture of people’s understanding of company policies and procedures. An audit becomes especially important after you complete the review process and make necessary updates to a policy or procedure. Make sure to communicate any new policies or changes to existing policies to your team and test their understanding. Quizzes are an easy way to see what your employees know.
Where Can I Go for Help in the Policy and Procedure Review Process?
No matter the size of your business or what industry you’re in, the policy and procedure review process is complicated. Ensuring that your policies are legally compliant, mission-driven, easy to understand, and suitable for your employees feels like a juggling act. The umbrella of business covers more now than ever before. It’s important your policies and procedures reflect this.
ComplianceBridge is a complete solution to your policy management needs. From the first step to the last, we help make the policy and procedure review process as simple as possible by automating key tasks. With easy-to-use customizable tools such as collaborative policy creation and review, automated workflows, a policy library, automatic review dates, and version management, you can make the review process as quick and painless as possible. Utilizing custom quizzes will give you a company-wide view of policy comprehension, allowing for a more targeted review process, as well.
Don’t let the world evolve while your policies stay the same. See how ComplianceBridge can help you take control of your policy management by requesting your free demo today!