How to choose the best policy document management software

Discover the difference between policy and document management and how to choose the best software for your organization.

December 29, 2020

It stands to reason, some policy document software will benefit your organization more than others. At a high level, it will protect you from liability. It will optimize your policy, training, and accreditation processes, saving you valuable time and money.

If you’re reading this, chances are you recognize the gaps in your current policy document process. Chances are you’re ready for a change.

Here’s the tricky part. As humans, we are comfortable with the status quo. We’re good at devising workarounds and adapting.

So while you may recognize the need to innovate, change can sometimes move at glacial speeds. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, change may feel more like navigating a labyrinth of trip wires than putting processes in place for the good of your company.

In the end it’s worth it, and we’ll help you get there. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between policy and document management and how to choose the right one.


Difference between policy and document mnanagement

Finding the best policy or document management software starts with understanding the difference between them. Like many, you may have used these terms interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference.

Most notably, policy management software can be used for document management, but it doesn’t work as well the other way around.

Document management is an automated way of storing, organizing, managing, and tracking electronic documents. Examples include companies like Box, DocuWare, and Bynder.

Document management is usually a broad solution for managing all kinds of assets (videos, images, documents, etc.), lacking key functionality for documents that govern employee behavior (i.e. policies).

You may be wondering, “Couldn’t I simply store policies in a document management system?” Yes, but the best systems take policy management a step further.

Policy management shares many of the same features, but it is designed for policies. In other words, it doesn’t just store, organize, manage, and track policies. It creates a thriving ecosystem where policy, training, and accreditation all connect and inform one another. It treats each policy as a living document, able to adapt to a changing landscape and unexpected threats. In short, it brings your compliance to life.

Take your return to work policy as an example, assuming you need to create or update yours in the wake of COVID-19. With the best policy management software, this is how updating your return to work policy will look:

  • Update the policy without having to leave the software, using a preferred program like Microsoft Word or Adobe.
  • Customize workflows so key stakeholders can collaborate on the update and get automatically notified when it’s their turn to review.
  • View a side-by-side comparison of the published version and the new draft with all changes highlighted, making it easy for collaborators to review and approve updates.
  • Disseminate the updated policy to your remote or in-office workforce, create a custom test for comprehension, and track acknowledgements.
  • Experience control over a single, living version of the policy, with useful data like signature and version history included.

This and more is possible with the right policy management software. But be careful and do your research, because not all platforms are created equal. In fact, very few do everything mentioned above while maintaining ease of use.


How to choose your policy document management software

Between onboarding and upfront costs, choosing the wrong software is expensive. What’s the “wrong” software? It doesn’t check every box on your list of non-negotiables, creating gaps in your compliance. These gaps could lead to wasted time due to software inefficiencies. They could lead to fines, lawsuits, and disrepute due to lack of employee accountability.

Even the most affordable solution becomes more expensive long term if it doesn’t meet your organization’s needs. That’s why thoroughly researching your options pays dividends.

Start by creating a list of non-negotiables. Compare your criteria to the pros and cons listed in this buyer’s guide, then eliminate options that don’t meet your criteria.

While the reviews in our buyer’s guide provide many unique insights, they are not comprehensive, so make sure to supplement your research with other reviews and articles. Once you have a shortlist of options, sign up for demos and free trials.

Here are 15 common criteria that may or may not be non-negotiables for your organization:

  • Cost-effective: delivers a quick return on your investment
  • Central storage: a single source of truth for all your policies
  • Easy to use: an intuitive UI that a variety of users can easily use
  • Customer support: access to a friendly, knowledgeable support team 24/7
  • Training: quality resources and support for onboarding and maintenance
  • Access control: powerful search and control over user permissions
  • Acknowledgement: tracking who has received and signed policies
  • Testing: customizable tests to verify employee comprehension
  • Workflows: advanced workflows to collaborate across your organization
  • Smart editing: side-by-side comparison with policy changes highlighted
  • Version control: a single version of each policy and archiving functionality
  • Tracking: the ability to track policies across their entire lifecycle
  • Security: protection from internal and external security threats
  • Mobile: ability to access and interact with policies from any device
  • Integration: intuitive integration with your favorite programs

Once you’ve created your list, try prioritizing it. For example, if you have 10 non-negotiables but customer support and ease-of-use are by far the most important to key stakeholders, then make note of that.

With a prioritized list of non-negotiables, you will be well on your way to finding the best policy document management software for your organization.

Hopefully this info has better prepared you to lead change at your organization. To get the latest on policy management straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter today.

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