Every organization needs the correct set of policy frameworks to operate effectively. Policies are essentially the guidelines employees must follow to align with business goals and reduce potential compliance issues. However, it can be challenging to manage all the policies effectively. This is where policy management comes in. When implemented correctly, policy management brings certainty to a place of chaos and helps identify issues before they escalate further.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the basics of policy management and how you can leverage it to ensure consistency and operational efficiency in your organization.
What is policy management?
Policy management refers to the process of creating, publishing, communicating, implementing and managing various policies in an organization. To manage your policies effectively, you need to establish specific rules and regulations on how policies need to be governed. The framework you create for policy management may cover various aspects, including data privacy, network security, compliance, company best practices and employee conduct.
Since policies provide guidelines for organizational processes, policy management is crucial in facilitating an organization’s decision-making. Also, policy management ensures that employees adhere to established policies and procedures, helping to meet business goals and mitigate unforeseen risks.
What is the main objective of policy management?
The main objective of policy management is to keep business practices consistent throughout the company across all departments. Consistent business practices minimize exposure to risks and ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page. Proper policy management can create a communication system that aligns your organizational goals with your policies.
Poor policy implementation and communication can ruin the reputation of your company. Policy management prevents that from happening by proactively monitoring your system for potential issues.
What is the importance of policy management?
If your policies and procedures don’t align with your business goals, your overall business process could become inefficient, and your team members will face significant challenges in executing their everyday tasks. This could also result in legal complications and compliance issues for your organization.
Imagine a scenario where every department in your organization has created its own policies and procedures. Without a centralized policy management process, these departments may develop policies that conflict with each other. Also, there won’t be any consistency in their tone or framework. By streamlining various policies under a unified platform, you can ensure proper management of your policies without making them chaotic.
What are the steps for effective policy management?
Creating new policies can be a complex process involving writing, editing and reviewing various guidelines. However, policy management is a relatively simple process. Let’s explore some critical steps required to ensure effective policy management.
1. Create a policy management system
The first step in managing policies is to create a system that contains all the policies you’ve created. You can establish a policy management team to monitor the system. Also, make sure you have an administrator to direct the process.
When creating a policy management system, approval from top management is critical. Ensure you have the correct data and statistics to present to your top management regarding policy management. A policy management system approved by the top managers will be easier to implement.
2. Centralize access to your policies
To ensure your employees can access your policies whenever needed, you need to create a centralized repository accessible to everyone. A cloud-based solution you can access from anywhere is ideal for storing and managing your policies. Ensure that the solution has the features to send instant updates and notifications when changes are made to policies.
3. Review your policies proactively
Organizational policies are not set in stone. They must evolve based on the changing needs of the company. For this reason, you must periodically review the validity of your policies and make changes whenever required. For instance, if a new type of security threat has emerged, you must update your security policies to include strategies to mitigate this threat.
4. Plan your policy lifecycle
When creating new policies, you must understand their significance from creation to retirement. Once your policies have served their purpose and are no longer relevant, you must replace them with new ones. For instance, when new technologies are incorporated, you must replace policies related to outdated technologies.
5. Audit to identify policy gaps
Besides reviewing your policies, you also must perform regular audits to ensure smooth policy implementation. Audits can help you identify potential policy gaps and correct them before they affect your company’s objectives. If you need more transparency in your policy management, you can opt for an external audit to ensure objective results.
6. Document all your steps
Documentation plays a crucial role in your policy management process. With proper documentation, you can mitigate risks, demonstrate compliance, train your staff and ensure strict adherence to your policies. Everything from policy modifications to audit reports must be documented in a robust documentation solution to ensure your policy implementation is on track.
What are the benefits of policy management?
Policies provide a high-level guideline for implementing processes and procedures in your organization. With proper policy management, you can direct the entire organization and overcome operational inefficiencies. Let’s check out some of the key benefits of policy management.
Policies establish a unified point of reference on how organizations must operate and what they must do to achieve their business goals. Employees can refer to these policies to understand their responsibilities and the type of work they must deliver to meet organizational standards.
When employees understand their responsibilities clearly, it translates into efficient usage of company resources and higher productivity. Since everyone has clear expectations of their roles, overall waste can be minimized. As a result, organizations can have more time to pursue various creative tasks.
Policies and procedures are designed to establish a standard set of guidelines for everyone. For instance, most organizations have a code of conduct highlighting expected behaviors from their employees. The primary reason for this is to promote accountability for employees’ actions.
Policy documents also inform what would happen if anyone failed to follow the established guidelines. Employees must understand their roles and act accordingly.
Without proper policy management, your policies would become chaotic to manage. If different departments have conflicting policies, it creates confusion about what to follow. For this reason, companies focus on creating consistent and coordinated policies through centralized policy management.
While policies establish guidelines for organizations, policy management focuses on improving the set policies. You can achieve this by collecting feedback from all stakeholders affected by the policies. Organizations can improve their policies by measuring various performance indicators and ensuring seamless operations.
Since continuous performance enhancement will help boost productivity, organizations can benefit significantly from solid policy management. In addition to increasing productivity, this can improve your customer satisfaction and overall reputation in the market.
When employees know their roles and act in alignment with the company’s requirements, it significantly reduces risk. Most companies have internal policies for cybersecurity, which have specific guidelines for mitigating risks. Companies also have policies on how employees should act in case of an unexpected cyberattack.
With solid policy management, you can ensure that your employees successfully follow the risk management guidelines mentioned in the security policies. Moreover, policy management sets guidelines on risk tolerance levels so that organizations can establish the necessary control over various practices.
Policies provide the necessary guidelines on how companies can adhere to various compliance regulations. Policy management ensures that the organization stays within the compliance rules and regulations. Policy management also makes compliance audits a breeze since all policy updates are properly monitored and recorded under a unified platform.
What are policy management best practices?
Since policies play a vital role in enhancing a company’s operational efficiency and security, they must be managed most prudently. However, collaborating with multiple departments, collecting policies and procedures, and updating the guidelines can be overwhelming.
We have put together a list of policy management best practices to streamline the process and ensure effective policy management.
Review policies often
Since policies play a critical role in an organization’s success, you must review them regularly without fail. Policies are prone to changes based on new regulations or evolving business goals. These changes must be updated periodically to ensure proper policy workflow. Reviews help identify and update these gaps before outdated policies start creating issues in your operations.
Provide policy-based training
When training your new or existing employees, make sure the training is based on your organizational policies. This helps your employees contextualize company policies and leverage them whenever required. Policy-based training can also help with your company’s long-term compliance management.
Consistency is the cornerstone of any policy management system. Your policies must be consistent across the entire organization to ensure fairness. Be it your terms and conditions or employee disciplinary policies, consistency helps you maintain the same quality throughout the company.
To preserve consistency, you must focus on implementing your policies the right way. Make sure your policies are followed by every department uniformly. If the complexity of policies causes any inconsistencies, revise your policies to simplify them.
Policy management is not a one-person process. All stakeholders who were involved in policy creation must collaborate to ensure seamless policy management. This approach helps you align your policies with your company goals, environment and culture. Most importantly, a team-based approach will make developing, reviewing, revising and retiring your policies and procedures easy.
Use external groups to examine your policies
While internal players are essential in creating and reviewing policies, external groups can provide you with a unique perspective in creating transparent policies. These external players could include industry peers, regulatory authorities, third-party service providers, security experts and legal personnel.
Communicate policies effectively
Once you have created your policies, you must communicate them effectively to all those affected by the policy implementation. You need to create a plan to share your policies with all the appropriate groups in your organization.
While some policies and policy updates can be notified with just emails, other critical policies require elaborate communication modes to ensure everyone understands the policies. For instance, you can create a questionnaire for everyone to answer after reading the policy manual.
Utilize a policy management software
To ensure successful policy management, you need to leverage a robust policy management software that can help you simplify the process. Imagine manually creating and updating policy documents for your entire organization. You may have to deal with multiple versions of paper documents, spreadsheets, etc.
With a policy management software, you can update policies instantly and communicate the changes with all the stakeholders involved. Besides making your policy management seamless, a software tool can also help you ensure consistency in the process.
Document and manage IT Policies with IT Glue
IT Glue is an award-winning IT documentation solution that can centralize your policy documentation and most valued assets, including hardware, software, passwords and SOPs. You can leverage a library of policies and procedures to help you kickstart your IT documentation.
Besides consolidating all your policies in a unified platform, IT Glue can also help you streamline your business processes.
IT Glue’s SOC 2-compliant documentation platform features an immutable audit trail, multifactor authentication and next-generation password management engine, all fully integrated and linked with all your policies and procedures.
To know more about how IT Glue can help with your policy management, get in touch with our specialists.