Basic policy management in the 21st century requires cloud-based, centralized access. You can't just use binders and printouts any longer. And you really don't want to just get by with sticking everything in a shared Google Drive or Office365 Drive, hoping people can find the information they need.
Technology has evolved to the point where we now have policy management software that can outperform any of the old methods, give everyone the access they need, and let the policy managers make changes, share new updates, and even provide training and evaluation options to your staff.
Most policy management software share a few common features: being able to track whether your staff has read new updates, requiring signatures of managers who need to approve new updates, archiving out-of-date and obsolete policies, the ability to import content and policies from third-party publishers, and mapping your policies to accreditation and training requirements. Plus, everyone wants it to be accessible on any kind of device, whether it's a phone, tablet, or computer.
As much as we like Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365, you just can't do any of that with those productivity suites.
Most of the organizations we support at PowerDMS have those particular needs: signature tracking, update notifications, archiving, and policy-to-accreditation mapping. But we also recognize that many of the organizations and industries are different and need different features.
For example, law enforcement agencies, healthcare organizations, municipal governments, and corporations all need policy management software, but they may need it for different reasons. Some may need to import third-party content. Others may need to offer video content. And still others need to offer on-demand, online training.
Organizations typically need policy software for:
- Regulatory and legal requirements: Federal, state, and local laws have to be met. Policies and procedures detail how they are to be met.
- Industry standards: These could be manufacturing standards such as ISO 10204 or ISO 14001, or healthcare accreditation standards such as those specified by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
- Shareholder requirements: Shareholders may hold publicly traded companies to certain financial standards and board behavior.
- Customer expectations: Companies that need to meet a customer's expectations or specs, whether it's an industrial customer buying raw materials or consumers who expect their products to meet certain expectations, need a policy manual to help workers meet those standards.
Law enforcement agencies may get their policy content from accrediting bodies like CALEA, while healthcare organizations may get theirs from accreditation agencies, like AAAHC. Corporations may need to import content from regulatory bodies and governmental agencies. And manufacturers may have a lot of their own intellectual property, such as drawings or recipes, which they need to store and make accessible, as well as standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Meanwhile, municipal governments are carrying out a wide variety of programs and laws created on the federal, state, and local levels. They're improving communities and interacting with citizens, which means they have a wider remit than, say, law enforcement and healthcare.
Different organizations have needs for different kinds of content. Whether it's the written word, spreadsheets, videos, audio files, drawings, or other types of content, a policy management solution should be able to adequately store and display the content that's uploaded.
In this article, we'll discuss what kinds of content the policy software users often upload, what they can integrate the policy software with, and the different solutions they need to have supported.
While different organizations and industries have different types of content, the file types used to share that information are a surprisingly small pool. That is, the files used to share law enforcement policies are no different from the files of healthcare policies. Training videos use the same file format as how-to videos.
That means every organization will need policy management software that will support the most popular office productivity suite: Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
You'll also want support for images, videos, and audio. You should be able to upload common file types like JPGs and PNGs for images, MP3 or MP4 for audio, and MP4 and MOV for video.
Depending on the software, you may have a total storage limit or a limit on file sizes. If there is a file size limit, it will likely only impact your video uploads. But there are workarounds. For example, you may be able to upload your videos to a streaming service like Vimeo, Wistia, YouTube, etc., and embed that video into the policy management software.
If possible, look for a policy management software package that can also support PDFs, including contracts, checklists, maps, floor plans, emergency plans, memos certifications. Also see if you can get support for testing and evaluation, training records, and surveys.
And most importantly, you want to be able to watch, read, and hear all of this content on any kind of device, any kind of platform. Keep in mind that certain file types may require the use of a specific browser, like Google Chrome, to function optimally or at all.
For some policy management solutions, you should be able to create most of this content within the software itself. You can write the policies, do basic photo editing, and open and read PDFs.
But if you have a long history of using Microsoft Office products or Google Drive, your policy management software should integrate with it so you can use the tools you're most comfortable with, not be forced to use whatever interface the policy software has created. For example, you would want to be able to upload documents from, and edit documents within, the Google Drive Suite (i.e., Docs, Sheets, and Slides)
The best policy management solutions also let you import policies, training, and other forms of content, such as what's available from third-party content providers that cover a variety of industries and organizations. We work with content providers like the American Jail Association, CALEA, AAAHC, and ILoveCompliance.biz.
Organizations like the AAAHC, American Jail Association, American National Standards Institute, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, FBI Quality Assurance Standards for DNA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Standards (just to name a few) also make their accreditation standards available for organizations to import into their policies and procedures manual software.
What's in your policy management software?
PowerDMS makes policy and procedure management software that handles all the integrations, file types, and policy requirements for law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, municipal governments, and manufacturers.
PowerDMS has been helping these different industries with policy management since 2001. If you would like to learn more, visit our website for a free demo.
Or you can read more about What is policy management software and how it helps to learn more about issues surrounding policies and procedures in healthcare.