what, exactly, does a policy management system do? If you have the same question in your head but didn’t ask it because it seemed strange, there’s something you need to know. There is nothing strange or stupid about asking this question – the real problem is that the way we manage and perceive policies in organizations is wrong.
Why policies seem to exist only on paper
Policies are often treated as if they are a mere formality. If you ask the employees of an organization to tell you a few of their policies, most employees wouldn’t be able to tell you more than 1 or 2 policies out of the hundreds that exist on paper.
The problem is that these policies exist only on paper. Everyone is shown these policies and often also given a physical document or a soft copy of the relevant policies. Few of us actually go through all the policies and the policies are not reflected in the actual work processes of the organization. One major reason policies are treated this way is that they are inaccessible or inconvenient to access. Another problem is that the policies are often outdated; a policy may have been written years ago and may no longer be applicable or acceptable.
Giving life to policies
What policy management systems do, in effect, is give life to policies. They accomplish this by removing all the obstacles which impede the adoption of policies into the organizational culture, and they also ensure that the policies reflect the true business realities of the organization. These goals are accomplished through tools, technologies, and methodologies built within GRC policy management systems.
Managing the life-cycle of policies
Policy management systems are built around the life cycle of policies. They enhance each step of the life-cycle to ensure that policies are always relevant and updated. These systems begin with the first step – formation of the policies. Every policy document can be managed and shared within the system. This means that all the relevant stakeholders can collaborate on the same policy documents seamlessly and create policies that are acceptable and beneficial to all departments.
That is just the start – once a policy has been made, the next step is to ensure that it is shared with everyone. Once a policy is available in the policy management system the system administrators can choose who can view it, who can edit it, and who can share it. This ensures that all policies are accessible by the people that need them, but they cannot edit anything they do not have permission to edit.
An important part of this step is accessibility and convenience. The reality of policy management is that if we want employees to actually use the policies, we need to ensure they can access them conveniently. Going through many different pages of documents to find the relevant policy is not convenient. Policy management systems allow policies to be indexed and searched. If anyone wants to know what the policy is regarding a task they are performing it takes them just a few seconds to look for the policy using keywords.
Every policy has a date of expiry – some expire in months, some in years, and some in decades. When policies are created these dates can be set within the system and the system will alert you that a policy is nearing its expiry date. Management can then analyze the policy to check if it needs to be updated for new business realities and make the necessary changes through collaboration within the system.
The impact of policy management systems
Policy management systems have several advantages. They ensure that polices are actually being read and followed by employees. They are also a great way to ensure policies do not cause risk or compliance problems. Regulatory change management software, new S.O.P.s, and changing business realities can result in policies being outdated, which exposes the organization’s risk exposure and liabilities.
Policy management systems are easy to implement, very beneficial, and inexpensive. If you want to improve your organization’s policy management, look for a sleek and efficient cloud based solution for the best ROI.