Each month when we send out our newsletter we include in it a compliance poll. The poll gives us insights into trends in the compliance industry that help us provide better products such as policy and procedure software, employee compliance training and more. Last month we asked compliance professionals what their biggest policy management pain points were for 2014. This is what they said:
What Are Your Biggest Policy Management Pain Points?
Respondents were instructed to select all that applied, in the event that multiple policy management initiatives were of equal importance to their company this year. As you can see the majority of compliance professionals (50 percent) are tackling updating policies when regulations change. This is a very real and understandable concern, as regulations are and will always be updated continuously. So let’s break down each of your concerns and examine possible solutions.
1. Retaining and accessing expired versions
Policy and procedure software is critical to retaining and accessing expired versions of policies. By investing in policy management software that provides a centralized location for all policies, you have the capability to not only store, but auto save new versions of your policies as they are updated. Also look for policy management systems that allow you to set alerts and reminders for policy owners that will notify them when a policy update is needed. This is vital as the health of your compliance program relies not just on policy storage, but policy management.
2. Tracking who has read which policy versions
While you can certainly carry out manual policy attestations, this could be a cumbersome or even unattainable task depending on the size of your company. An easier way to manage policy attestations is to take advantage of a compliance policy certification system. When researching policy and procedure software check to make sure that it includes the capability to track and report on employee attestations – this will allow you to keep a pulse on the employee compliance training you have in place.
3. Updating policies when regulations change
Referring back to point number one, if you can invest in a policy management system that allows you to set alerts and reminders for policy owners this will help mitigate the pains of updating policies when regulations change. The manual work of updating the policy unfortunately still has to be done, but there are tools (if you have questions about this, you can request a demo of our policy management software solution here) that can help you manage the workflow and alert you when regulations have changed.
4. Combining policy content from multiple authors
The right policy management system will allow you to assign roles and policies to different individuals within your organization. This kills two birds with one stone, not only does it create policy ownership, ensuring that policies are not allowed to be left by the wayside and become outdated, but it also allows multiple authors to work on subsets of policies within one system. Policies can be saved individually and then combined, while still retaining the original standalone version. Your policy and procedure software should be able to time stamp the different versions so you can quickly assess the most current version.
5. Distribution of policies to the right employees
Policy management systems should also allow you to create different groups within the system, providing you the flexibility to distribute policies on an as-needed basis. For example you would want to distribute the employee code of conduct to your entire workforce, but a policy on sales ethics you would probably only want to distribute to your sales team. By implementing a policy management system with the capability to silo employees into different buckets, you can distribute the right policies to the right employees.
6. Keeping a consistent look and feel across all policies
Your last concern, but definitely not the least important (46 percent of employees are concerned with keeping a consistent look and feel across all policies) can also be addressed with the proper policy and procedure software. A good place to start to keep a consistent look and feel for your policies is your employee code of conduct. The employee code of conduct is the ultimate policy and therefore, should drive the direction of all other policies. Like all other policies keep and update your employee code of conduct within you policy management system – you can then easily refer to and pull from the document when creating and updating your meta policies.
Of course I’m sure using a system like the one I’ve described above seems great to everyone. The question then is cost. Compliance officers, as we are well aware, are often working with limited staff and resources. So how do you implement robust policy and procedure software?! The key is executive buy-in. We’ve done several events and webinars on the topic of executive buy-in over the last few months to help provide compliance professionals with the tools to get approval for their compliance initiatives.