What Are Policies and Procedures?
Organizations use policies and procedures to bring compliance, quality and control to the way they do their business. But what exactly are policies and procedures?
Policies differ from procedures in that policies are the rules and regulations used by an organization to carry out its business and achiev its long term goals.
Policies cover everyday operations such as IT, customer service, risk management, handling the media, human resources and governance. As well as statutory regulations such as health and safety, data protection and equal opportunities.
Policies are formulated and enforced by an organization's governing body to set boundaries and guidelines for the actions and activities taking place within the rest of the organization.
Procedures provide the detail for achieving the policies. In other words they provide a step-by-step account of tasks required for each policy. Those responsible for implementing policy will use these procedures to ensure compliance with strategic direction, points of governance or statutory requirements.
So why do we need policies and procedures? Put simply, without policies and procedures, organizations would not and could not operate effectively. These rules and guidelines are the backbone of a company that provide a means of bringing together all areas of the business to achieve common and consistent goals. Without them a business would soon fragment and lose control over its constituent parts.
In essence companies need policies and procedures for four reasons:
- To ensure fundamental operational processes are performed in an effective and consistent manner.
- To control and manage risks and threats to the organization.
- To encourage a culture of continuous improvement and internal communication.
- To provide evidence of an internal control system that complies with regulations and standards.
Policy management covers a variety of activities including, policy creation, dissemination and communication, implementation, testing, review, auditing and reporting. As well as maintaining policy compliance through the organization, responding to regulatory changes and ensuring security of policy information.
As you can imagine this task could turn into an organizational headache for many a policy manager. The good news is that there is a wealth of policy management software available to help manage the process of introduction, communication, implementation and compliance.