- Three options for writing policies and procedures
- How policy writing software helps with writing policies
- Other things policy writing software can help with
It's more than just a fancy word processor
A policy manual isn't very useful if you don't have any policies to put in it. And these days, you're going to need policies for every eventuality, whether it's a policy for sick leave, handling hazardous materials, computer passwords and cybersecurity, workplace bullying, or bring-your-own-devices.
Of course, you may not have enough time or expertise to create effective policies on all of these topics, and you don't have the subject matter experts on hand to ask for further assistance. There are three ways you can create policy content: Do it yourself, subscribe to a service, or hire a professional.
Whichever option you choose, policy writing software can help you track it, revise it, get it approved, and share it with your colleagues. And most policy management solutions do much more than helping you develop policies and procedures.
In this article, we'll talk about the three methods for creating policies and procedures, as well as how you can use policy management software to help with so much more.
Three options for writing policies and procedures
When it comes to policy writing, you can use any or all of the methods below.
You can create it yourself. This method can be fairly straightforward as long as you have some ideas of what you're doing. You'll want to create a template to give all your policies a structure, and you'll need a team of people helping you write the policies.
Then you'll want to prioritize your policy list so you can focus on the important ones first. You'll need each policy validated, reviewed, and finally approved. Then you'll want to distribute it and get it signed by everyone the policies apply to.
That's a simplification of a complex process, but this article and others will help you through each step. And if you don't want to create your own templates, you can download our free policy template for your own use.
If you don't want to create your own policies in the first place, you can subscribe to a service that offers policy content.
There are companies that provide policy content for certain standardized policies for particular industries. Companies like Lexipol and Medtrainer both offer pre-written standardized policies that can be tailored to your organization's own use.
At PowerDMS, we’ll soon be launching our own pre-written policies. In the healthcare industry, we're already offering the MED-PASS policy content. In law enforcement, we offer some CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) sample content.
But if you have specific policies, or you work in an industry that doesn't have pre-written content, then you may want option #3: Hire a content publisher or consultant.
There are groups like Rodger's Group, which specializes in public safety organizations, and Daigle Law Group, which focuses specifically on law enforcement policies. These organizations not only have large libraries of pre-written policies, but they have the experience to help your organization come up with its own policies.
Once you have your pile of policies written and you're ready to start the next steps of getting feedback and approvals, you can turn to policy writing software for that.
How policy writing software helps with writing policies
Policy writing software does exactly what you think it does – it's software that helps you write policies.
But it's more than just for policy writing. If that's all it did, then you could run your entire policy management program with an out-of-date copy of Word and be done with it.
A better description of PowerDMS' policy writing software is policy management software. It will help you with the entire policy workflow, from cradle to grave. With our software, you can:
- Create: Write your policies or import them from the policy providers or consultants.
- Edit: As you get feedback from your committee, coworkers, and supervisors, you can make the necessary changes using your preferred apps (Adobe, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, Google Drive).
- Get approvals: If you need multiple people authorizing the policies, once they sign their approval, the software can automatically kick up to the next person.
- Disseminate: Share policies and updates with the specific people they apply to. You can limit distribution so they only go to affected employees.
- Track signatures: Make sure everyone has read and understands the policies by requiring and tracking signatures. With automatic reminders, you won’t have to personally remind every employee who doesn’t sign the document.
- Version control: Make sure you're working with the right version of a policy. This also helps you during creation so you're all working from the single source of truth, as well as ensuring that only the latest version of the policy is available to your organization.
- Archiving: You can archive past policies in case you need to keep them for legal reasons. Otherwise, you can always delete policies once they've become outdated or replaced.
Other things policy writing software can help with
Good policy writing software can also help you with your training, accreditation, and compliance by connecting your policies to training and to your accreditation requirements. If you're considering policy and procedure writing software, make sure you've got access to some of these features as well.
- Central repository: You want all of your documents stored in the same location. No separate folders and drives for different departments, because things get fractured, lost, and pretty soon different groups have their own sets of policies that no one else knows about. If you keep them all in a centralized location, then everyone can access them from anywhere.
- Access control: Just because everything is centralized doesn't mean that everyone should have the same level of access as everyone else. Most people only need read-only access, while others should have editorial access (like your policy writing team), and only a very few should have full administrative access. This is where version control can also be helpful because you can see if someone has made any unwanted or unnecessary changes to a policy.
- Electronic signature tracking: Whenever you create new policies, you can require the signatures of everyone who should read it. You can even see the results in a visual dashboard so you can know who still has to sign, and how many people are coming up to the deadline.
- Workflows: You can also create workflows and workflow templates for editing, approving, and collaborating on important document updates. Assign users and roles so the right people across your organization get their eyes on it, and rely on automatic notifications to keep them on time.
- Reporting: Show management how far along you are in the accreditation or compliance process. You can visually represent your progress and show any challenges or problem areas.
- Mobile app: Since a lot of people are working remotely or in the field, you can't always wait for them to get back into the office or in front of a computer to access, read, and policies. It's especially important if they need immediate access to policies right away.
- Integration with existing editing tools: It's not necessary to learn a whole new word processing program. A good policy writing software solution should integrate with Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive.
Writing policies and procedures may seem to be a daunting task, but policy writing software can make things so much easier. You can get content from other providers, import it into your software, have it edited and approved, and then distribute it, revise it, and archive it.
To learn more about how PowerDMS can help you write a policy or procedure, or even manage its entire lifecycle, feel free to request a free demo.