Are you using policies and procedures (P&Ps) to satisfy regulatory requirements or to accelerate workforce performance and results?

Many organizations use P&Ps to mitigate legal risk; we think that’s important but it’s just as important to ensure consistent delivery of products or services. So instead of thinking of P&Ps as a defensive measure or “checking the box” to avoid legal exposure, consider using this process as a way to improve the efficiency of operations, reduce costs and to increase the quality of products or services.

The Employee Experience

Creating policies and procedures is only half the battle. Unless it’s easy for your team members to find and access the content in their daily work, your P&Ps will continue to have little value or relevancy. P&P content must be accessible to employees where and when they work for the organization to have any hope of affecting change. But that’s rarely the case.

In many organizations, P&P content is often found in PDF or SharePoint document libraries that are difficult to find and access, creating a user experience not terribly different from the old “dusty binder” days when policies and procedures were infrequently updated and almost never accessed by employees.

Policy and Procedure Management

Aside from making it difficult for employees to find the information they need, the process of creating and updating P&Ps is typically cumbersome. P&P editors will create or edit content in Word documents using Word’s track changes feature to keep track of edits. Those documents will then be emailed back and forth among P&P editors and approvers until a document is finalized. Ultimately it gets published as a PDF, typically to a SharePoint document repository.

The challenge with keeping content in document formats like PDF is less flexibility to present that content through multiple devices. We want employees to access this content where they work, and in many cases they don’t have access to a traditional computer. Mobile devices are a common means of access. Trying to read a PDF document on a mobile device with a 3-4 inch screen is not a pleasant experience.

P&Ps stored as documents also offer less flexibility and less engagement, which is particularly important for Millennials, who now make up a large (over 25%) and growing portion of the workforce. These individuals are accustomed to learning and accessing reference materials through multimedia, most notably video, rather than text documents or even static images.

responsive web design

Is there a better way?

Of course there’s a better way, both to manage the P&P creation process and to make the content more accessible and more engaging to employees. The first step is to fully leverage web technologies to break P&Ps out of the static document paradigm.

Managing the content in a database driven, web-based application creates multiple opportunities –

  • P&P content can be pushed to a wide range of devices, from computer workstations to tablets and mobile devices. By implementing a responsive web design approach, your content can be easily optimized for viewing on every device.
  • If stored in a structured format, P&P content, or subsets of it, can be pushed to various applications – mobile apps, task management systems or portals. So create once and access anywhere.
  • Personalization – rather than having employees play “Where’s Waldo” navigating through a repository of thousands of P&Ps, provide a personalized experience by presenting P&P content based on an employee’s job role, department, work location, etc.
  • Incorporate multimedia – your employees have various learning styles – providing training or reference materials in multiple formats – text, images, video – provides more flexibility to address those different learning styles. For procedures in particular, video can be a more effective way to depict a sequence of tasks or processes than just text or diagrams.
  • Easily inform employees of changes or when P&P content is updated; employees should not have to decipher what’s changed when an update to a policy or procedure is published.

Efficient Content Management

In addition to just presenting P&P content to employees, keeping that content relevant and up to date is critical. In order to do that, P&P content managers in your organization need to have tools that make content management and approval easy and efficient. Shuttling Word documents back and forth through email is just inefficient and doesn’t provide an audit trail for edits.

Leveraging a workforce performance platform like Acadia  will not only address the needs of presenting P&P to employees, but will also improve the content creation and governance process. While general purpose content management systems, like SharePoint, can provide some of these capabilities, dedicated P&P content management platforms are purpose built to address all these needs.

The bottom line: when it comes to policies and procedures, don’t just replace a large dusty binder with its digital equivalent. Better options exist. Use a platform that can make both the P&P creation and management process easier, and use that content to affect real change in your organization.

Interested in learning more about how innovative organizations leverage policies and procedures to optimize workforce performance, drop me an email and we’ll share what we’ve learned, mdabrowski@systemsalliance.com