The IT world has changed a lot over the past year. While security threats have gone up significantly, we also witnessed major disruptions in various other aspects of IT. For instance, the sudden transition to remote and hybrid working environments has created additional issues with regards to the effective usage of IT products, value creation, service delivery, efficiency and more. To bring order to this chaos, you need an action guide of sorts, outlining clear rules of managing IT that align with your business objectives.
Clear guidelines need to be established in the form of IT policies and procedures to help you with various aspects including information security, IT governance, responsible use of data, security awareness, business continuity and more.
In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of IT policies and procedures and how you can leverage them to achieve your business goals and objectives.
What Are IT Policies and Procedures?
IT policies and procedures establish guidelines for the use of information technology within an organization. In other words, it outlines what everyone is expected to do while using company assets. With the help of strong policies and procedures, you can incorporate actions that are consistent, effective and efficient. In addition to helping you combat security threats by creating proper awareness, documented policies and procedures can also define how you incorporate and manage technology in your corporate environment.
What Is the Difference Between Policies and Procedures?
To come up with an effective framework for IT guidelines, you need to understand the difference between policies and procedures first.
Policies: Policies are general guidelines about an organization’s IT plan. They provide the parameters for decision-making. However, they do not focus on the details of implementation. Policies mainly focus on communicating an organization’s values, culture and philosophy with regard to IT. A good policy explains the rules and presents them in a logical framework.
Procedures: Procedures outline the step-by-step implementation of various tasks. From beginning to end, procedures will show you what actions to take under specific circumstances. With procedures, you can achieve the desired outcome. For instance, an employee onboarding checklist provides you with a list of specific tasks for onboarding a new hire. In other words, it gives you a step-by-step onboarding procedure.
Why Is It Important to Have Policies and Procedures?
An organization needs both policies and procedures to thrive in a competitive environment. Your IT policies and procedures guide your organization on various aspects of implementing IT the right way. They also bring consistency to organizational processes. With consistency in IT guidelines, you can serve your customers better and boost your brand’s reputation.
What Are the Benefits of Policies and Procedures?
Some of the notable benefits of IT policies and procedures are as follows:
- Adherence to Compliance: Every industry has its own set of data laws and regulations governing the handling and usage of customer data. Moreover, various regions also have their own specific compliance regulations relating to data privacy. With standardized IT policies and procedures, you can easily adhere to these compliance regulations and ensure best industry practices.
- Internal Process Improvement: Strong policies and guidelines can help you improve your internal processes. When companies scale up, the policies that once applied may no longer be valid. By constantly reviewing and updating your policies and procedures, you can ensure efficiency in internal processes and provide more value to your customers. You can also use policies to ensure consistent service delivery, increase employee knowledge and outline clear expectations from employees regarding specific tasks.
- Overcome Issues and Crises: Clear policies and procedures can help you avoid workplace incidents with regard to security. Even if something happens inevitably, you will have clear guidelines on the actions to be taken. When you have well-drafted policies on incident response, customer service, data backup, etc., you can mitigate damages to your reputation in case something goes wrong.
What Should an IT Policy Include?
Coming up with an effective IT policy can be a long and hard process. Since IT affects all aspects of a business in today’s scenario, various stakeholders from different departments must be involved when drafting a policy document.
A policy document should be written in simple language for everyone to understand. While it should outline the framework of IT guidelines, it should not be excessively restrictive. It should be flexible and leave room for improvement.
What Are the Key Components of an IT Policy?
There are various components involved when drafting an IT policy. Let’s discuss them in detail.
- Develop a Mandate: You need to come up with a mandate that identifies the specific IT goals of your organization. This will help you determine the tone and content of your IT policy.
- Use a Template: You don’t have to develop everything from the scratch. With a standard template, you can streamline your writing process and cut down on time wastage. The template can provide you with the framework of the content that should be included.
- Do Your Research: To start your research, consider the existing processes you have in your company first. This should be followed by external research on how to make the existing policies better. You should also research any potential issues you may encounter here.
- Develop a Draft: Once you have done your research, it is time to come up with an initial draft. You need to limit the use of department-specific jargon and come up with a draft that works for everyone.
- Review and Validate: Once it is drafted, you need to get it reviewed by all the stakeholders involved. You can make amendments to the draft based on their feedback and validate the final copy.
What Policies Should an IT Department Have?
There are various policies specific to the IT department of a company. Right from managing various IT assets to ensuring data security, an IT department should have clear policies required for an organization.
Some of the key policies applicable to IT departments include:
IT Asset Management Policies
These policies describe the guidelines to be practiced with regards to the IT assets in an organization. It should have specific protocols on what types of assets are admissible for specific tasks. You also need to have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy that describes whether employees are allowed to use their own devices to connect to an organization’s network.
IT Software Management Policies
These policies help companies manage their software tools effectively. From specifying the list of authorized tools to software automation, you need to have comprehensive policies that outline the appropriate usage of the software. You also need to focus on patching policies to ensure all your software tools are updated at the right time.
IT Security Policies
IT security involves various aspects, including information security, password management, remote access and security training. You need strong policies for both risk prevention and damage mitigation. You also need to provide regular training to your employees to make sure security efforts are imparted in the right way.
IT Emergency Response Policies
How you react to a security incident can make or break your business. You need policies on incident response, business continuity and disaster recovery, data recovery and data encryption. With a strong incident response plan, you can mitigate the damages resulting from a breach and resume operations instantly.
IT Employment Policies
Specific policies should be drafted and implemented for people who work in IT. Most importantly, it should set clear expectations of what needs to be performed in their specific job roles. Good policies need to be established for regular training, responsibilities, access to critical information, performance and more. This helps you manage expectations from the everyday performance of your employees.
How Do You Implement New Policies and Procedures?
Once the policies are drafted and finalized, you need to come up with a plan to implement those policies and procedures. First, you need to come up with a distribution plan to take the policies to all stakeholders involved. You need an automated documentation software tool that can deliver all your policies and future updates instantly across the company. Once it is delivered, make sure that everyone has understood them and signed off on their implementation.
Certain aspects of your IT policies might require training from subject matter experts. If required, you can create training manuals and deliver them through your documentation software. Once the new policies and procedures are implemented, you need to regularly review them as your company evolves.
Who Is Responsible for Policies and Procedures in an Organization?
Policies are typically developed based on the vision and objectives of an organization. IT-specific policies are drafted by IT managers and overseen by the IT administrators in an organization. Determining the policies, however, is a collaborative effort that gleans inputs from various stakeholders in the organization. To make it a company-wide policy, the HR department plays a huge role and works with managers of other departments to ensure effective implementation.
Why Is It Important to Review Policies and Procedures?
Drafting IT policies is not a one-time affair in any organization. Various changes are likely to happen over time. The company might scale and become a larger organization. The policies that were once religiously followed may not even be relevant in the new scenario. Hence, it is necessary to regularly review IT policies and procedures without fail. Your review should address technological changes, organizational policy changes, business goals and more. Based on the feedback, you can make changes to your existing policies.
Documenting IT Policies and Procedures With IT Glue
IT Glue is the leading, cloud-based documentation platform that can securely document your most valued information into standardized and centralized knowledge. When drafting new policies and procedures, you need to gather information from various teams and put them together. IT Glue helps you manage everything from a single pane of glass and puts everything at your fingertips.
IT Glue’s SOC 2-compliant documentation platform features an immutable audit trail, multifactor authentication and next-generation password management engine, all of which are fully integrated and linked with all your documentation.
To know more about getting your policies and procedures in one place, to optimize your team’s productivity, click the button below and drop us a line!