Employees review their policy tracking software together.
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February 28, 2019
    Article highlights
  • Benefits of policy tracking.
  • Consequences of inadequate policy tracking.
  • What to Look for in a policy tracking software.

An important part of maintaining compliance and mitigating risk lies in effective policy management, including tracking whether or not employees have signed off on your policies.

In some instances, the law mandates that employees attest they have received, read, and understand certain policies and procedures. But even if it’s not legally required, confirming that employees have done so is part of compliance best practices.

If you don’t have an efficient process in place to manage your corporate policies and procedures throughout their full lifecycle, tracking employee signatures on these critical documents can turn into an administrative nightmare.

Not only can policy tracking be time-consuming, costly, and difficult, but lacking employees’ signatures exposes your company to risk and liability issues.

Benefits of Policy Tracking

When your business has clearly written policies and procedures in place that describe compliance expectations, you’re following best practices and fostering consistency within your company.

Tracking these policies from beginning to end includes many stages, including creation, communication, implementation, verification, training, evaluation, and monitoring.

Effectively managing this process is at the heart compliance, as it helps your business manage risk and mitigate liability.

And you want your efforts to focus on developing high-quality content in your policies rather than spending so much time managing your policies.

Policy management builds corporate accountability, empowering employees to be more collaborative and productive at both the individual and team levels.

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This accountability helps them to more successfully contribute to your organization’s goals – a win-win for everyone.

Tracking policies also helps provide clarity, set expectations, and encourage transparent decision-making.

By clearly defining roles, responsibilities, leadership structure, and ownership of projects and goals, your organization is building accountability.

Challenges of Policy Tracking

Why is it so difficult to stay on top of tracking your policies?

For starters, the larger and more complex the company, the harder it is to do this. When you’ve got hundreds or thousands of employees – perhaps dispersed in various locations across the country or even around the world – policy tracking can almost feel like a full-time job.

The process can quickly become unmanageable just from the sheer volume of employees going through the attestation or certification process.

For example, if your manually tracking policies, employees flood your inbox with email replies stating that they’ve received and acknowledged a new policy or changes to an existing policy.

And when you’re in high-liability or highly regulated industries (like finance, manufacturing, government, energy, and healthcare), policy tracking can be even more complex.

The ever-changing landscape of regulatory requirements convolutes an already bloated process of effective policy management.

Surprisingly, some companies still handle policy tracking the “old way,” such as paper sign-off sheets, spreadsheets, email, and even SharePoint.

But these antiquated processes are difficult to use, relying too much on manual input. And because they’re manual processes, they’re often not standardized.

Even more worrisome, the manual method is a breeding ground for human errors, including duplicate data and incomplete information. This entire manual process makes tracking policies unreliable, thus exposing companies if they cannot prove with any certainty that individual employees have received and acknowledged individual policies.

Consequences of Inadequate Policy Tracking

What happens if you are unable to track and prove employees’ signed verification of a policy?

If your employees haven’t signed off on a policy, then how do you know they’re performing their jobs the way they’re supposed to?

They might be skipping key steps in a process or using the wrong tools to get the job done or taking safety shortcuts, thus not following best practices.

This not only leads to poor, inconsistent results, but it can also expose your company to risk if you’re putting out a shoddy product or if employees are not following safety protocols.

If your policies lack employee attestation, your company can be held liable for employee misconduct. This can prove to be an expensive risk in terms of both financial costs and damage to your company’s reputation.

Your business might face a lawsuit, for example, or be fined by a regulatory body. Or your brand’s reputation can take a hit if public opinion sways in the wrong direction following a worker’s wrongdoing.

Plus, not tracking policies effectively can cause labor relations issues. Common sources of HR contention involve attendance, paid time off, and cause for termination.

If you don’t have a solid policy management system in place, you leave your business wide open to lawsuits and other legal ramifications stemming from disgruntled employees or workers who claim they didn’t know about certain rules or procedures. If you can’t prove otherwise, you’re in legal hot water, for sure.

Employee reads and attests to policies using a policy tracking software.

What to Look for in a Policy Tracking Software

By now, it should be obvious that the most efficient, effective way to handle policy tracking is to use software that allows for a dynamic tracking process.

Cloud-based policy tracking

Policies that linger in the depths of a filing cabinet do no one any good. Ditto for policies locked away in a single employee’s computer.

Instead, look for a cloud-based policy tracking software such as PowerDMS that creates a clear-cut, standard system for organizing, disseminating, storing, and reviewing policies.

It allows all employees to directly access, sign, and track policies from any location and any device, making policies easy to locate, instantly accessible, and always reportable.

Secure, central repository

Having the most current and complete policy information is critical to the success of your business. However, while it needs to be accessible to employees, it also needs to be secure so only those who are supposed to have access to it do have access to it.

Because not every employee needs access to every policy, look for policy tracking software that allows for the flexibility of role-based security.

This means that if employees are assigned to specific roles or departments or levels within your company, they’re only given access to those documents relevant to them.

For example, PowerDMS includes active directory – a syncing tool that automates this information and keeps your users/groups/roles up to date.

Finally, a central repository allows policy tracking from the same, secure system rather than being handled differently throughout the company.

Robust reporting and dashboards

Reporting needs to happen on two levels, including both leaders and employees.

First, administrators, leaders, and supervisors need to be able to see the progress employees have made on reading and signing off on policies.

If certain policies aren’t being reviewed or certain groups of employees are not completing their tasks, the leaders can take steps to address that – but only if they’re made aware of it.

On the flip side, employees need to be aware of the tasks being asked of them. They shouldn’t have to guess when a policy has changed or when they need to take action on something.

A good policy tracking software should give employees a list of assigned tasks and make it easy for them to stay in compliance with both new and existing policies.

Version tracking

It can be difficult to stay on top of policy changes. That’s why you should look for policy tracking software that tracks both policies and employee signatures.

For instance, PowerDMS not only keeps track of older versions of policies and changes, but it also keeps track of which version employees have signed and when they signed it.

So, if a policy change was implemented, you can track specifically what the language was when employees signed off on it. This is especially important when your business might be required to prove this out in court or some other legal proceeding.

Automated reminders and alerts

Let’s face it – a good policy tracking software should make life easier for both you and for employees. That’s the whole point of ditching the manual approach.

The software should automate tasks and ensure your most important documents are current, saving you both the time and effort in tracking everything manually.

Policies should be regularly reviewed and re-distributed for signature, at least annually, if not more frequently. Policy management software should automate the workflow and let administrators know when it is time for a review.

In many cases, the policy will not need to be updated. Still, best practices include getting employees to sign off on these policies anyway.

The software should also make it easy for employees to read and understand the changes. To this end, PowerDMS includes a feature that provides a side-by-side comparison of document versions.

This allows people to see at-a-glance what has and hasn’t changed, making it easier to understand the document.

Employees review their mobile policy tracking software.

Mobile ready

You just can’t beat the instant accessibility of having your most current policies and procedures literally in the palm of employees’ hands whenever and wherever they need it. Look for a policy tracking software that employees can access on their cell phones.

If ever there is a question about the right way to do something, having the ability to easily search and quickly find the answer is crucial. If this highly important information is not readily available, they won’t even think to look for it.

Training tracking

Of course, simply tracking your policies is only part of the compliance equation. Training to your policies and procedures is a critical component of the policy life cycle. Without training, your policies exist in a vacuum.

But the two are decidedly interconnected. With training, your employees learn how policies impact their jobs and what, specifically, is expected of them.

The best way to see what a good policy tracking software can do for your company is to get a free demo of the product.

This gives you an up-close look at the software’s features and how they would benefit your company. Plus, you can ask questions pertaining to your specific business and industry.

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