Policy Management Challenges, Best Practices & Considerations

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Do you find policy management to be a time-consuming and challenging process? 

Well, many others feel exactly like you because, honestly, sometimes policy management can be frustrating.

That’s why we decided to write this article, to help you out!

We’ll guide you through the challenges and offer best practices for creating and managing policies. Also, you will learn about the most crucial features you must expect from a policy management software.

Let’s dive in!

Table of contents

  1. What is policy management and why do you need it?
  2. Policy management challenges [when poorly managed] 
  3. Best practices for managing policies
  4. What you must expect from a policy management software
  5. Key takeaways 

What is Policy Management and Why do You Need it?

We should first define what we’re talking about. Policy management is the process of developing, adopting, and maintaining policies and procedures within an organization. In addition, effective policy and process management will assist your company in reducing risk and protecting stakeholders.

One thing you need to remember is that managing your policies will strengthen and expedite your business strategy. For example, it will help you share information in a timely and effective manner and guarantees that policy communication and execution are coordinated and centrally located.

Why is this important?  

Because it just takes one adverse event, one lapse in judgment, to damage your organization’s reputation and lose the confidence of stakeholders.   

The correct policy management system allows you to proactively prevent problems while also providing fundamental mechanisms for rapidly and effectively resolving them if they arise. 

Policy Management Challenges [When Poorly Managed] 

The following list contains some of the most critical challenges companies face when their policy management systems are ineffective. You may even be facing some of these right now.

Let’s check them out.

1) Inconsistent Document Creation and Editing 

It’s common for businesses to use word processors or spreadsheets (or other manual processes) to write and edit documents. However, this can lead to some problems. One of the most significant issues is that employees might not have access to the most current policies. This can increase the risk of redundancy, inaccuracy, and even policy violations. 

2) Poor Policy Maintenance 

If your organization’s policies are not managed properly, policies may be dispersed over several computers and not accessible from a single centralized tool. Therefore, these policies will be written differently, presented differently, and updated inconsistently.  

3) Lack of Accountability 

Are you dealing with numerous documents? So, maybe you know that it isn’t easy to track who has received, reviewed, and signed the policies. When a company lacks accountability, it becomes challenging to set clear expectations and provide prompt feedback — decreasing productivity and efficiency.  

4) Outdated Documents 

Policy versioning and tracking the latest version of the policy are very significant in the organizations’ document management process. Paper-based documentation is a common reason for outdated policies. It frequently results in key documents being missing and duplicates of unapproved versions circulating across the organization.  

5) Improper Policy Mapping 

Mapping rules to accrediting criteria is complex, especially if you do it manually. Furthermore, seeking down documents to amend them in accordance with accrediting standards becomes a time-consuming chore.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the future of Governance, Risk, and Compliance, check out this new article.

Best Practices for Managing Policies

Now that we reviewed some of the challenges, let’s check the right things you should do to manage your policies correctly.

First, It’s important to understand that organizational policies define the norms, specify operations, and form an organization’s culture. These policies range from HR guidelines to pricing rules.  

Second, be aware that having a firm grasp of your company’s rules and procedure management is critical. However, as you know, it is not easy. A company’s policy environment is becoming increasingly complicated.   

Why is this?  

Because of the constant change of regulations, the expansion of vendor connections, and customer-facing documentation.   

Finally, companies, like yours, must overcome a variety of hurdles in order to progress from basic policy management to a consistent, efficient policy management process.  When designing and managing policies, you must always have a plan in place to create policies that are maintained and distributed effectively.   

Next, we’ll discuss the best practices for effective policy management. 

  1. Create policies from scratch with an in-software editing tool like StandardFusion that supports version control or import existing rules into the system.  
  2. Save time searching for regulations by putting them together in a centralized GRC tool, where they may be readily retrieved or revised.  
  3. Use automated workflows to handle document creation, review, and approval.  
  4. Customize the review and approval lifecycle for each document and use automatic task management and reminders to keep the necessary people informed.  
  5. Review your policies regularly. The typical suggestion is one to three years, although your more critical policies will most likely require yearly evaluations.  
  6. Following an event or breach, you should review particular policies. Determine whether the policy was unclear, if more training is required, or if the incident was an anomaly.  
  7. All new employees must sign a form acknowledging receipt and study of the policy manual.  
  8. All personnel must sign the documents whenever new policies are created or existing ones are changed.  
  9. Consolidate policy and document storage in a searchable, centralized digital file library. Employees are provided with tailored access to the repository, which depends on their job role, division, or other criteria to ensure they view the policies which are pertinent to them.
  10. Employees may be notified via email when new or updated rules are ready, and they can access them through their personal portal using the in-software document reader.  

What to Expect From Your Policy Management Software

Good policy management software can provide many benefits to your business. The goal is to establish consistency in employee behavior and increase communication across departments.

Documents that are organized and well-managed build trust and facilitate communication across the organization. This will help you ensure that governance controls are implemented and followed correctly. Also, proper management of policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines expedites your compliance journeys ensuring accreditation is straightforward.  

Let’s go over the most important features you can expect from your policy management software: 

1. Centralization

Policies can quickly become disorganized, misplaced, or modified without approval, resulting in serious risks. This is why a robust tool such as StandardFusion’s policy management can help you keep all your policy documentation in one location.   

This guarantees a single, centralized location for policy and procedure administration, as well as a reduction in duplicate policies. Above everything, your employees will have access to all the updated sets of documents where your team will, for example, be able to access the most recent policy version.  

2. Policy Tracking and Signatures 

When it comes to managing your policies and procedures, it can be challenging to keep track of everything, especially as they change over time. However, you can make this process a lot easier with the right policy management software.   

Using a policy management solution helps you keep track of all activity related to your policies, including what edits were made, who made them, and when they happened.   

This lets you know whether you’re utilizing the most recent versions of your policies and if the persons in charge of updating them have made the necessary adjustments.    

3. Policy Approval Management 

When you produce a new policy or update an old one, the final draft of the policy is sent to company executives for signature approval. The regular policy approval process is usually paper-based, with many interactions such as printing, signing, and scanning papers.  

This manual process is not the best option, especially if you want to create a culture of accountability amongst all company employees.  

With built-in approval management, you can assign policy updates, add adherents and send approval reminders to the appropriate team members. Even better, tools like StandardFusion policy management will keep all approval history data, making future audits a breeze and increasing transparency. 

4. Document Versioning 

As your policies evolve over time due to changes in your organization’s environment, it’s crucial to have a versioning system in place to ensure that your team is following the latest policies and that previous versions are properly archived. 

The main goal of document versioning is maintaining a historical record of policy changes and updates. This will help you track the evolution of policies and understand why you or your team made changes. It also enables you to ensure that everyone in the organization knows the current policies and that everything is clear about what is expected of them. 

Versioning also helps your organization comply with regulatory requirements, as many regulations require companies to maintain a historical record of their policies and procedures. 

5. Policy Mapping and Integration 

Information security policies are critical for informing an organization’s risk management strategy. They help identify potential risks, establish controls and procedures to mitigate them and ensure that everyone in the organization knows their responsibilities for maintaining security.

Mapping your policies is critical for managing and informing your organization’s risk management strategy. Policy mapping helps you identify potential risks, establish controls and procedures to mitigate them, and ensure that everyone in the organization knows their responsibilities for maintaining security. 

StandardFusion’s policy mapping features can also help you comply with regulatory requirements. Many regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA, require your organization to have policies and procedures to protect sensitive data. 

6. Quick Identification of Risks 

Effective policy management gives you quicker risk detection, shorter reaction times, and helps eliminate hazards connected with policy approvals and acceptance. Your policy management system should be able to interact with the way your business now monitors regulatory change.   

If a regulatory change occurs, your policy management should tell you that new policies may be required. Then, rely on your well-structured procedures to design, approve, and implement policy changes.  

7. Policy Exclusion 

Your company’s policies reflect how you do business, and because every company is unique, your policy documentation will be too. With the right policy management software, you can ensure that your policies remain consistent as your company grows and evolves.  

Policy Exception is an essential aspect of policy management. Not all policy requirements can be implemented or followed at a specific time or place. The best practice is to document exceptions to the policy statement with the necessary approvals.    

Exceptions might be made in most scenarios for legacy systems, third-party applications, proprietary systems, physical security, emergencies, and legal issues. Tracking Policy Exceptions and their expiry is critical to control non-compliant activities and demonstrating compliance.  

8. In-App Document Editor 

The improved in-app document editing provided by Policy management tools like StandardFusion Policy Management software delivers robust editing options while streamlining the user experience. It enables you to develop policies using an in-software editing tool that supports version control to import existing rules into the system.  

The in-app document editing function helps you work more efficiently by allowing you to edit documents within the application. Furthermore, the policy management system can be automated, allowing personnel to access, create, revise, adjust, and approve documentation quickly and securely. 

9. Analytics and Reporting 

Finally, your policy management tool should have helpful features that allow you to create reports and view dashboards that reveal key insights. These tools make it easy to meet audit requirements and include compliance metrics, charts, and reports to help you understand how your policies impact overall compliance and risk management. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Policy management is the process of developing, adopting, and maintaining policies and procedures within your organization to reduce risk and protect your business functionalities and stakeholders.
  • Poorly managed policies lead to challenges such as inconsistent document creation, poor policy maintenance, lack of accountability, outdated documents, and improper policy mapping. 
  • You can achieve effective policy management by following some best practices, such as creating policies with an in-software editing tool, using a centralized platform to maintain consistency and accessibility, using automated workflows, and reviewing policies regularly. 
  • Good policy management software provides centralized policy management, policy tracking and signatures, policy approval, policy exclusions, document versioning, policy mapping and integration, risk identifications, policy communication, Analytics and reporting, and more. 
  • Effective policy management builds trust, facilitates communication across the organization, and ensures you implement governance correctly. 

Looking for a better way?

With built-in SOC2 controls, policy management, visual reports and structured workflows, StandardFusion turns SOC2 compliance into a walk in the park. Our customers have never felt better prepared for their audits than they do now!

StandardFusion offers you the most vital policy management features to help you manage your policies more efficiently, reduce the risk of policy violations, and ensure that your policies effectively achieve your organizational goals.

Book a demo with our team and get to know the benefits of policy management software and elevate your organization’s efficiency.