Automated Policy Management: Before & After | ComplianceBridge

Automated Policy Management: Before & After

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on April 12, 2021

For an activity so essential to organizational success, it may come as a shock that so much of the business world struggles with adequate policy management. Policies – and their little brothers, procedures – are how an organization puts its ethics and priorities into practice; a company can shout its values from every rooftop, but until those values are actually enacted, the words ring hollow. If people were to discover that a company positioned as a pioneer for gender equality used hiring practices that favor male candidates, you can imagine the public outrage.

Not only do policies tell a business how to conduct themselves in their day-to-day operations, but they also offer a uniform, consistent way to handle difficult situations. If one employee were to be reprimanded for an offense and another were to be fired for the same event, the doors would be wide open for a wrongful termination lawsuit. By dealing with problems in a more consistent manner, a company can prevent claims that they acted unfairly.

Strong policies also provide a roadmap to rely on in the face of uncertainty. As we saw with the outbreak of COVID-19, an organization’s ability to adapt, and the speed at which they do so, can determine whether or not that company survives. While manual policy management had its place in the past, a company in the modern, rapidly evolving world needs a more effective method. Equipped with automated policy management, organizations can respond immediately to threats and opportunities, while the technology resistant are left scrambling.  

Automation Improves Every Facet of Policy Management 

Policy Creation & Approval

The Manual Method

With manual policy management, there are countless opportunities for a policy to slip through the cracks before it is fully enacted. One person approves it, another leaves it unopened in their inbox, someone else rejects it – and there’s no system in place to ensure progress is ever made. Eventually, the policy is forgotten, and no resolution ever comes. 

Suppose the policy does make it all the way to implementation despite lacking a system for approval. There’s no guarantee that a policy will be written in the right format without templating to standardize content. At its best, an incorrectly documented policy will confuse those attempting to follow it. At its worst, the policy could confuse people so much that it hinders their job performance, or they opt to ignore it altogether. 

Automated Policy Management

When we streamline the approval process, a policy waiting for review is pretty hard to miss; people know where to look for new drafts, when they ought to approve them, and how they are expected to provide feedback. With automated policy management, the approval process should function like a well-oiled machine. 

Automation also lays the groundwork for a more consistent set of policies. It’s only possible to follow brand guidelines if you know where to find them, and policy management software guarantees that you do. When all relevant players have access to the proper templates, policymakers don’t have to spend hours formatting documents, and employees will be familiar with the layout (making the policies far easier to understand).

Policy Renewal

The Manual Method

Manual policy management places the burden of renewal entirely on individuals. It’s up to an employee to remember when a policy needs renew, and if they forget, there’s no system in place to remind them. This means outdated policies go unnoticed, which leaves room for potentially disastrous situations; managers abusing loopholes, guidelines that directly contradict government regulations, and in general, having multiple ways to deal with the same issue can be catastrophic.

Automated Policy Management

Automating policy management virtually eliminates these issues. Policy management software can notify those in charge when the time comes to renew, keeping your policy management on schedule and preventing anything from flying under the radar by mistake. What’s more, thanks to a modern policy library, employees won’t need to frantically hunt for the right documents; active files are clearly delineated and easily accessed from one central location. 

Policy Distribution

The Manual Method

With manual policy management, the best distribution option is likely a content-sharing platform such as Google Drive or Dropbox. These programs do have their benefits; they can be accessed via the internet, store files for long periods, and allow quick and easy sharing. The problem with these online platforms is that they weren’t built for policy management. Older files can be challenging to find on short notice; it’s often unclear which version is the most recent, and there aren’t many options for authority over the file. 

Excluding policy management software, a digital file-sharing platform may be the best option for policy distribution. While emailing out policies seems like a viable route, it doesn’t work in the long term. Old emails may get deleted, either by the recipient or automatic settings, or simply buried by other mail. Printing out policies is even worse; if they aren’t thrown away immediately, they’ll likely make it to the shredder by the end of the week, if not tucked away in a tall stack of forgotten documents. 

Automated Policy Management

With automated policy management software, policy distribution is much more intuitive. Policies are stored in one centralized location, accessible by all who need them. Old versions are stored, but the most updated version is the first viewers will see. Managers can decide each employee’s level of authority, assigning editors, viewers, and even policy owners. However, the main takeaway of automated distribution is that everyone knows where to look for policies, and everyone who needs to be will be notified of any changes. 

Acknowledgment

The Manual Method

Thorough policy acknowledgment without software is a trying feat. Employers could email the policy to collect signatures, but that relies on every recipient to read, review, and sign on their own accord. Another option is to print the policies and acquire acknowledgment on paper; while this option can work, it often takes a great deal of time to track down every necessary person. 

Automated Policy Management

Once a policy is created with automated policy management, the burden of getting acknowledgement is transferred to the software. The system should be able to distribute policies to the entire company, collect the necessary signatures, and even send the new materials directly to those who need them. With ComplianceBridge, managers can go a step further; they can send quizzes to assess employee understanding, automatically keep a record of all who’ve read the materials, and send alerts to those who need a little reminding. 

Organization 

The Manual Method

Without the help of automation, keeping track of policies is an absolute nightmare. To start, finding a document without a system of managing them can take ages, especially if that document is a few years old. Even if you find the right policy, you then have to make sure it’s up to date and able to be edited. This may not present as an issue at a young company, but navigating the clutter gets exponentially more difficult as the policies pile up. 

Automated Policy Management

With automation, the task of organizing policies is largely negated. Policies are stored in one centralized location, accessible by all who may need them. Finding the right policy takes nothing more than a quick search, and it’s apparent which version is the most recent. Dates to review are stored in the system, so when the time comes to revisit a policy, all the relevant reviewers will receive a notification reminding them. 

A strong organizational system is extremely helpful, especially if the company ever faces an audit. Frantically searching for the right document might be acceptable in normal circumstances, but when the government is involved, you’ll want to set yourself up for success by ensuring all your ducks are in a row beforehand.    

Automate Policy Management With ComplianceBridge

Policies lay the groundwork for how a company should go about its processes; when we don’t know what to do, policies give us guidance – and automation keeps that guidance from morphing into a tangle of half-baked suggestions. Before we had modern technology, company leadership would often dedicate more time to managing policies than actually enacting them. With ComplianceBridge, this waste of time is a thing of the past. Our platform has all the tools you need to create, review, distribute, and organize company policies – without the added human-effort. Once a policy is created, the process runs itself. If you’re thinking of updating your policy management system, request a demo today! We look forward to streamlining your process.

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