Updating documentation such as policies and procedures is time-consuming and challenging. After all, some may have been created years ago, and now they’re outdated, overly complex documents that few in the organization actually use. Creating documentation from scratch can be even harder – where to begin?
Maybe you’re concerned about compliance with ever-changing regulatory requirements; after all, the first thing auditors typically want to review is your policies and procedures. A lot of new standards have popped up recently that require vigilance to ensure they are all adequately addressed in your documentation.
Or perhaps you’re not worried about compliance, but instead whether your documentation is an accurate, realistic representation of management’s expectations and the organization’s practices. Maybe you need to update policies and procedures due to changes in the business, such as new initiatives, technology, or lines of business.
You might be worried about “brain drain” with personnel who have served in key roles for many years facing retirement; or perhaps you have the opposite problem of high turnover and the resulting inconsistencies in processes. In either case, updated policies and procedures can help smooth the transition.
Clear, concise, and consistent policies and procedures are key factors for operating a successful organization. You can use policies and procedures to communicate organizational performance standards, establish expectations and discourage activities that could have a negative effect on the organization. They may also help support compliance with laws, regulations, and mitigate risk.
Well-designed policies and procedures can provide many benefits to your organization, including:
- Accountability – policies and procedures help build an environment in which individuals are held accountable for adherence to both internal and external standards;
- Training – by referring to the policies and procedures, new employees can quickly learn how the organization operates, its business practices, and what’s expected of them;
- Efficiency – if a problem arises, time and effort may be saved if the issue can be handled successfully using an existing policy or procedure; and
- Consistency – established and up to date policies and procedures help to ensure that an organization’s operations do not deteriorate over time. In addition, critical decision-making processes should will remain consistent.
For many organizations, developing and updating policies and procedures can be a low priority due to a lack of time or resources. Perhaps your organization has a need to build policies and procedures from the ground up due to changes in your business or a newly enacted regulatory requirement. You may just need to update or enhance existing policies and procedures due to changes within your operating environment. Regardless of your situation, the Clark Schaefer Consulting team has the expertise and experience to assist you.
Our process is simple:
- Perform interviews with management and key personnel to gain an understanding of your environment, critical processes, and common language and terms used.
- Review existing documentation to ensure that new documentation is aligned with what you already have in place, including existing organizational guidelines. If necessary, review related documentation such as federal and state regulations or industry standards.
- Identify documentation that must be developed, enhanced, combined, or deleted.
- Develop a draft of the policy and procedures, including overall structure and content, numbering schema, and cross-referencing between the documentation, based on interviews and compliance considerations.
- Review the proposed policy and procedures with management to ensure that the prototypes achieve the overall business objectives and provide the desired level of clarity.
- Revise documentation and perform periodic walkthroughs of drafts prior to finalization. This helps to ensure that the documentation reflects clearly and fairly what is required to follow and adhere to the new policy and procedures.
- Provide final documentation and training as required, to ensure that the finalized policies and procedures formats are understood and established.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Although developing or updating policies and procedures can be a significant undertaking, our experience doing this type of work means that we can hit the ground running to get your documentation updated as quickly and completely as possible.