Process + Technology = Effective Issue Management

Let’s face it—nothing is perfect.  Mistakes are made, processes are never fully optimized, and improvements can always be made.  All of those issues – big and small, critical and unimportant – mean risk or opportunity for your organization.

How are you managing those issues?  Do you have insight into the big picture? IssueMgt

Start with a consistent issue management process…

Having a consistent process in place to document and resolve issues throughout the company is a great first step.  Provide guidance, so that all departments and all projects use the same format for tracking, remediating, and resolving issues.  That process should include the following steps (although not always in this order):

  1. Document an issue as soon as it is identified in a central location.
    Emails are great, but having a standard location to enter an issue as soon as it is discovered is the key to full transparency.

  2. Assign the issue to the appropriate contact (or committee).
    Your process may have a central point of contact that reviews and assigns issues – or this may be built into the issue reporting process.  In either case, assignment to an individual or a specific committee is critical.  Issues will never be resolved if no one is accountable for them.  (That person may ultimately delegate or reassign the issue later, but assignment brings accountability.)

  3. Rate the risk or opportunity that the issue poses.
    Issues are not always about risk – sometimes an issue is simply the recognition that there’s an opportunity that could be addressed.  To determine the priority of addressing issues, each should be rated to understand the risk posed or the opportunity available.

  4. Determine if and how the issue will be resolved, and what the timeline should be.
    Will the issue be addressed?  Low risk/low opportunity issues may simply be put on hold or removed from the list, accepted as imperfections in the daily business. If the issue is to be addressed, document a plan and set a timeline.  The less urgent the issue and the farther out the timeline, the more general or vague the plan may be.  A “next step” should always be defined, even if that’s a plan to create a plan.

  5. Assign the remediation plan to the right individuals.
    For smaller organizations, it’s more likely that the original issue owner is also going to be the individual responsible for the remediation.  However, for large companies, issues may be owned by a division or department leader, while the remediation of the issue falls to someone on the front line of the organization.

  6. Regularly review the open issues and ensure that updates are documented.
    Ensure that open issues are reviewed regularly, and that progress is being made and documented.  If issues and remediation plans are never updated, the process will stop being effective.  If progress on an issue has stalled out, a regular review will highlight that challenge and allow it to be addressed.

  7. As remediation is completed, audit the process to ensure that the issue is resolved.
    The remediation plan may be marked complete, but has it really been fully implemented?  Was the remediation plan effective in addressing the issue?  Is there something more that must be done?

…and make sure you have technology in place to support it!

Consider the insight gained if you had a web application that allowed employees to report issues, issue owners to build remediation plans, and management teams to review the status of all issues across the company.

policyIQ is that application.

From a simple reporting mechanism to dashboards to track progress, policyIQ offers a technology platform that supports the issue management process.

Want to learn how?  Join us on October 22nd for a policyIQ training event, where we’ll focus on this issue management process – and how you can support all of the steps within the policyIQ application.

If you want to talk to us before October, we’re happy to connect with you to talk about issue management!  Contact us today.

 

Is anything more critical than the security of your data?

The security of your data – and that of your customers – poses arguably the biggest risk to businesses today, and is, therefore, the most critical compliance initiative that your company will undertake.  The stakes are high and the regulatory requirements can be vast.  And as more companies outsource tasks and utilize cloud services and infrastructure, the ability to control all of the aspects of data security becomes more difficult.

With all of the risk and complexity inherent in data security, the technology that you use to keep track of your compliance efforts should be simple.

itsecuritychalkboard

policyIQ serves as a great case study for policyIQ!

The policyIQ application has clients around the world who rely on the software, the team that supports the software, and the infrastructure on which the software resides to keep their data safe.  And the security compliance program for policyIQ involves many of the same complexities that our clients are managing:

  • Risk inherent in the storage of our own data, and even more critically in the management of our clients’ data
  • Distributed responsibility for critical aspects of IT security
    • RGP, our corporate parent, is responsible for things like employee background checks and HR functions;
    • We utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our hosting partner, and rely on their IT security program to provide physical and environmental security for our data center.
  • Multiple IT and data security requirements, including…
    • SOC 2
    • SOX
    • GDPR

To keep our own commitments to data security, we utilize policyIQ to capture our IT policies, controls, action items, and audit trails.

With our own implementation of policyIQ, we are able to follow the SOC 2 framework and link our controls to the related requirements.  Controls are designated as being performed by our policyIQ division, RGP Corporate, or our AWS partner, allowing any team member to more quickly reach the right resource with questions or clarifications.

When it comes time for an external security audit, we can prepare evidence in advance of the on-site audit based, pull out policy documents to meet the audit requests, and document any follow-ups or recommended action items provided by our auditors to further enhance our security program.

Join us on Monday, July 8th at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT for our CPE event on IT Security Compliance in policyIQ, where we’ll dig deeper into policyIQ as a case study for policyIQ – and take a look at other frameworks and resources that your organization might utilize for your security compliance!

And look for more blog posts through the month of July that highlight IT and data security compliance in policyIQ.

Are your contracts in order? Your time, reputation, and revenue are at stake.

When organizations think about governance, risk, and compliance initiatives, managing contracts is not typically the first thing they think about.  However a contract is, by its nature, a governance tool that is designed to mitigate risk.

In a recent webinar, we explored the challenges and risks of poor contract management, and outlined best practices for effective contract administration that can be implemented by organizations of any size.  Watch the recording of our webinar for the full story, or keep reading to see the highlights!

Do any of these sound familiar?

Whether we are helping organizations manage contracts from the buy side (contracts with vendors or suppliers) or from the sell side (contracts with their customers), there are some common challenges that organizations face.  Do any of these sound familiar?

  • We waste a lot of time tracking down contracts when we need them.
  • Contracts have renewed automatically before we had a chance to renegotiate the terms.
  • We received an invoice for a service that we weren’t using, but the contract continued to auto-renew.
  • We have been in non-compliance with a client contract due to a lack of communication around non-standard terms.
  • Our company has multiple service providers for similar services, because we were not aware of all of our existing contracts.
  • It seems like we’re always wasting time trying to remember who has to approve what and when.

 

timemoneyreputation2

What’s at risk with poor contract management?

Managing contracts well is good business.  Poor contract administration wastes time, damages your reputation, and impacts your bottom line.

Simply put:  Your time, reputation and money are at risk.

 

Seven contract management best practices for any size organization

Good contract management involves people, processes and technology – and we’ve outlined seven best practices that require all three.  The best practices below can be implemented by companies of any size – and policyIQ’s GRC platform can provide the technology you need!

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  1. Central Repository
    Identify or procure a central location that can be accessed by the right people at the right time.  Cloud-based solutions are a great choice, as they offer accessibility from any location on a 24/7 schedule.
  2. Define & Capture Meta Data
    Identify key data, and capture those details within your repository.  Expiration or renewal dates, contract value, contact information, and details about non-standard terms can all be critical data points that will feed into…
  3. Key Reports & Metrics
    Use that meta data to create key reports and metrics that drive your business decisions.  When evaluating contract administration systems, validate your ability to customize the data captured, as well as the flexibility of reporting on that data.
  4. Robust Search
    Your central repository should provide a robust search, so that you can find contracts by key word or phrase, searching through all contract documents.
  5. Identify Contract Owner (outside of procurement!)
    Most organizations identify a contract owner, but often the internal contact is not the business user of the product or service.  Clearly identify, and maintain, the contact person for every vendor or supplier contract – and ensure that the contact knows and understands how those products or services are being used.
  6. Alerts and Reminders
    Don’t miss a deadline or allow a contract to renew without notification.  Be sure that you can set up alerts – via email or regular reporting – to let the right individuals know when contracts are up for review.
  7. Clear Procedures
    All of the technology in world is only as good as the procedures that are designed to ensure that it is used properly.  Create procedures that instruct your employees on the who, what and where of contract management – and keep that documentation accessible.

 

policyIQ can help!

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Would you like to improve your contract management process to decrease risk?  Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to help you lay out a plan for the people, process, and – our specialty – the technology you need!

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: heavy GRC technology.

RGP’s policyIQ team is seeing a lot of movement in the governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) technology market. Organizations are complaining of complex tools that are difficult and time consuming to implement. Many have expressed frustration and regret after investing several months—years, even—and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars into the implementation of GRC platforms only to find they were still not producing the promised benefits. They struggled with finding the right time to cut the cord. Others tell tales of the constant perks in the flashy sales and marketing process that ended in crickets after they signed the dotted line—there was very little support to help them make the application do what they expected it to do. Some companies got up and running in a tool and later found it was very cumbersome to manage as business needs evolved.

Are you wrestling with heavy, cumbersome GRC Technology?

Many compliance officers, auditors, controllers, and IT directors have stories about how long they have tried to hang on and make it work.

It’s time.

It’s okay to say it out loud. There are other options that are easy to configure and customize for your team’s specific needs that don’t break the bank. Clients have raved about the flexibility of policyIQ and their ability to make adjustments in just a few moments when the business, market, or regulatory bodies call for it. They have praised the speed of deployment of policyIQ and return on investment that they observed almost immediately through improved effectiveness in meeting their objectives.

We understand if you’re feeling a little skeptical…

…after what you’ve experienced. Let us show you! We offer a 30-day free trial and are happy to show you YOUR data in the trial site as proof of concept before you buy.  You can spend time kicking the tires, so to speak, and working with your implementation expert and the policyIQ Support team.

P.S. The policyIQ Support team will be by your side for the long haul! We enjoy reviewing our team’s interactions with clients—we are prepared to tackle your tough business questions, to help you expand or adjust as needed, and we can’t help but celebrate the friendships we make serving our clients over time.

We are excited to partner with you, too! Contact us to start your free trial.

1 in 3 do not have a plan!

The policyIQ team recently hosted a webinar presented by GRC analyst, Michael Rasmussen, focused on how to drive employee engagement through effective policy management and communication. During the session, we asked the audience: “Does your organization have a policy communication plan?” Remarkably, one in three respondents answered, “no”.

In recent posts, we have drawn attention to the potential hazards of NOT keeping your employees informed, trained, and certified. No doubt, some companies have learned a multi-million-dollar lesson on why it is important to build out a policy communication plan. In case your organization can relate to the third of respondents who identified with not having a formal plan, we want to share some ideas on how you can get started crafting your plan and reducing legal exposure right away.

What is the risk?

1 in 3 respondents reported not having a formal policy communication plan in place.

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to prioritize your policy updates? Consider, first, how your policies are related to your risk environment and what practices you must have in place to protect the organization from the top down. Next, you may wish to focus on the policies and procedures that you have in place to safeguard your organization: security policies and procedures. The next area in need of attention, depending on your type of organization, may be documentation related to ensuring that product, process, or service quality is delivered. If you have a quality system in place, you likely already have associated documentation on a regular cadence of review.

How will you know that all of these practices are actually taking place and operating as designed? You could also prioritize the documentation and routine practice of monitoring, from an operations and financial perspective. Auditing your business and finance functions will go a long way to provide assurance that you have the right practices in place.  

Can your organization provide evidence that your house is in order?

Who is the audience?

Retail store managers, truck drivers, accounting and finance personnel, nurses, IT project managers—there is a seemingly infinite list of roles in the pool of potential policy and procedure audience members. Rather than drafting policies and simply publishing them for broad access or distribution on the company’s intranet, you may want to take a step back and consider more closely, again, the level of risk associated with the documentation. Starting with your areas of greatest exposure, which of your employee roles would be impacted by the absence of the policy or documentation? Pay particular attention to those roles that are directly tied to your high-risk areas and critical controls.

How will you reach them?

The question, here, may be two-fold: What level of assurance does the situation demand? What media is most accessible to the audience?

Policies related to hours-of-service limits for truck drivers and anti-bribery policies for employees working in high-risk geographies may be among your top priorities as it relates to communicating your organization’s values and practices, but they certainly do not have the same work environment or access to information. An important step in your communication plan is the consideration of the level of assurance that the situation demands. Simply publishing some policies may be enough, but for others, it will be critical that you capture a receipt of your employees’ review, their attestation that they understand and agree to follow your policies, and some may warrant training and certification evidencing the employees’ understanding of the critical values and practices.

Can your training materials for efficient and repeatable distribution when possible, but be sure to bring employees in for training on values and practices that are mission critical.

If you want to better ensure engagement by your employees, you may also wish to consider whether the content requires live and in-person training or if delivery to your employees’ mobile devices will be satisfactory. Getting into the flow of what your employees do and see every day is the best way to boost the likelihood that they will see and interact with your content.

Next steps:

RGP’s own policyIQ is an easy to setup and use SaaS platform that can be leveraged to author, manage and share policies, procedures, links to training materials, certifications, and other related documentation on an employee’s device-of-choice. Click here to learn more about our policy management solution or reach out to us, directly! We are happy to help you see your data in a free policyIQ trial site.

And if all of this still feels like a lot to consider, you may wish to reduce your organization’s exposure sooner than later by bringing in a subject matter expert to spearhead the effort. RGP’s professional consultants can help to assess your organization’s documentation and lead the effort to map out and implement the execution of your policy management program and communication plan. Click here to be put in touch with an expert in your area.


Again, special thanks to GRC 20/20’s Michael Rasmussen for sharing his expertise with our audience (and us, too!). If you are interested in learning more from Mr. Rasmussen, we encourage you to check out his website and, specifically, his “Policy Management by Design” white paper.

What comes to mind when you hear “digital evidence”?

Who cares?

I mean, who actually has to care about digital evidence? Consider the audiences or different roles of people who need to produce or rely on digital evidence: management and business unit leaders; auditors; information management, technology, compliance, and security professionals; and the officers of your organization. We are producing unstructured data, much of it valuable, at a breakneck pace. Do you know who your producers of quality digital evidence are?

When I hear digital evidence, I think of the artifacts that may be considered digital evidence such as raw data, reports, signed documents, test results, specifications, and performance receipts. Documentation of activities that provide assurance, including procedures, work instructions, training sessions and materials, and attestations are also critical. Have you identified which practices and assurances are closest to your significant accounts, risks, and controls?

How do we wrap our arms around digital evidence?

There are systems and practices that provide the bookends for ensuring relevant and reliable results contributing to digital evidence such as systematic management and monitoring of workflow, milestones, deadlines, analyses, and remediations. Digital evidence also relies on the trail of bread crumbs that show who touched what and when including the audit trail of changes, versions, handoffs, and approvals. Without a central portal or system in place, it is plain to see, we cannot reliably manage digital evidence.

Are you taking advantage of all that policyIQ has to offer in these areas?

Alerts, dashboard notifications, and email generated systematically by RGP’s policyIQ helps employees know when work is required of them. The taxonomy of the digital content is configurable and can be subject to the information governance preferences of your organization with appropriate read, write, and approve rights established during initial configuration. policyIQ can provide an enforceable framework to manage contributions, the complete capture, monitoring, and reporting on critical documentation and evidence.

If your opportunity has more to do with the quality of your existing evidence or the need for corroborating evidence, RGP’s subject matter experts can help to assess your need and to fill any gaps identified. Right now—whether related to technology, process, quality, or completeness—make a note of some of those gaps or pain points that just crossed your mind. And then reach out to us: Information@policyIQ.com; 412-263-3330.

5 Simple Steps to GRC Technology Implementation

Whether for IT Security Compliance, Enterprise-wide Policy Management, Contract and Lease Administration, your organization’s GRC or Audit program, policyIQ can be up and running in 5 simple steps. Read on for more information and contact us to automate your initiative in Q1!

Step 1: Configuration
A policyIQ expert will assist you and/or your RGP Consultant to customize the design of the user interface in policyIQ for input of data, navigation, reporting, content and user security based on your input and feedback. Of course, we do not progress to step 2 until you, the client, approve of the configuration.

Step 2: Prepare data
RGP Consultant requests data from your team or organization, then scrubs provided data to help ensure completeness and accuracy. You give approval regarding the condition of the data before progressing to step 3.

5 Simple Steps to Go-Time!

Step 3: Populate
RGP Consultant populates approved data (import or authoring, depending on your needs) and subsequently validates the completeness of what is in the system to the approved data. The RGP Consultant will provide you with a walkthrough of your site and data for feedback and your approval.

Step 4: Refine (Reports, Dashboard, Planning for roll-out/training)
RGP Consultant demonstrates the policyIQ user interface using the populated data. You provide a live example of a transaction, and with your RGP Consultant’s side-by-side help, you drive the live example from input to reporting. Any additional configuration items identified during this process will be considered for further customization. You give the green light when you’re ready to go-live.

Step 5: Go live and train
Often there are a handful of “power users” who are expected to regularly participate in the process that is being automated using policyIQ. The RGP Consultant sits side-by-side with your power users, individually or as a group, to train on use of the software. Your power users will be directed to policyIQ’s written and recorded materials that you can leverage for your personalized procedural guide. Your RGP Consultant and the policyIQ support team are available onsite or remotely for any questions.

Our methodology your yours?
What initiatives or processes are you looking to digitize and manage more efficiently in 2019? Hit the ground running with RGP’s subject matter experts implementing our proven methodology in our technology or we can support your team to implement your methodology. What kind of support do you need? Contact us, information@policyIQ.com, and we’ll help you to get the ball rolling!

Suffering low morale and a disconnect between executives and those doing the work every day?


 

 

 

 

Art Weeast has helped a number of organizations to “think beyond the task of documenting policies and procedures to the intelligence of the information that is in those documents.” In other words, think of the value or purpose that the documents serve. One of his objectives, as he trains organizations on how to create valuable documentation, is to “keep what’s in it for me, from the end user’s or the employee’s perspective, in mind as you develop content”. The end user and all stakeholders might consider, “What problems and questions can this documentation solve?”

To demonstrate the application of Process Intelligence practices (as Mr. Weeast termed his work), consider three common problems:

  1. Employees and Management do not value the documentation (mainly the procedures).
  2. Work tasks are not clearly connected to executive priorities.
  3. Business Units/Departments/Functions do not collaborate on cross-functional processes, often leading to tension and decreased productivity.

With Art Weeast’s help, let’s tackle each of these problems one at a time.

The problem faced by many (maybe most) organizations: Employees and Management do not value the documentation.

Consider how you can make your documentation useful. Follow this three step process:

  1. Set a course to establish more comprehensive documentation. Rather than tracking just the steps of the procedure, frequency, who performs…think of all of the everyday business questions that come up related to the procedures. Add Roles and Responsibilities, Applications Used, Definitions, Procedure Input and Output–these fields will help you to address common problems. Read further to see how.
  2. Make it easy for process owners and your front-line doers to capture the documentation. You don’t have to complete the fields in consecutive order. Starting with the procedure, then considering what leads into the procedure and what the outcome of the procedure is before moving on to the purpose and other data is a much easier thought process.
  3. Make use of the intelligence that is inherent in your documentation to solve business problems. With updated, comprehensive procedures, you can address common problems…effectively and efficiently!

Put your information to work for you!

Another common problem: Work tasks are not clearly connected to executive priorities. 

The front line doers, on a day to day basis, do more repeatable processes than executives do. At the executive level, it is unlikely that you will see procedures. This is the root cause of the disconnect between the tasks and executive priorities. It’s no wonder that executives generally don’t feel the value of the documentation and therefore, the employees don’t feel the priority from the executives to create and maintain the documentation. So, per human nature, documentation becomes an unwelcome task to do, and usually it is tackled at the last minute with a mad rush to get it done.

The solution?

Help your organization to establish the connection between top priorities of the business and the tasks that hardworking employees carry out day after day.

A master at translating the complex into simple steps, Art Weeast developed a method for creating this connection. He calls it an Operational Map. To build your Operational Map you will:

  • Interview the Business Owner and document Primary Functions and Sub-functions from her perspective
  • Prepare List of Procedures for each Process Owner’s Area
  • Create a visual representation of Functions and their related Sub-functions
  • Map Procedures to related Sub-Function by playing “Operational Bingo” with Process Owners—you hold and call out the Procedures while she identifies the related Sub-function.
  • Validate the mapping with the Business Owner.

The result?

  • Executives come down to a level that they rarely visit—they better understand what it takes to get things done! They begin to appreciate the value—and the NECESSITY—of the documentation in a more highly regulated and complex world.
  • Process Owners (the everyday do-ers) appreciate the collaboration with executives. They sense the tone from the top and the priority becomes clear. The do-ers begin to understand the bigger picture—the risks that the organization faces and the importance of what they’re being asked to do. And they are very curious about what other departments do!

The final problem we aim to address: Breakdown in cross-functional processes.

Frustrations build in an organization when communication and collaboration breaks down or does not exist among certain parties. You can tell this is happening when you or others can easily blame someone for inadequate, inconsistent or untimely inputs into your process—or others who put disruptive demands on you to produce an output with a nearly impossible delivery date and provide inadequate information needed to meet the demand. It is natural for all of us to personalize the process under these circumstances.

The art of establishing collaboration among cross-functional parties can be reduced to four main steps. The following steps serve to “de-personalize” the process and issues, and allow parties to focus on the desired end result.

  1. Meeting: Bring functional representatives together for a collaborative process review mediated by a neutral party.
  2. Current state: Have them describe the standard process; first without the history, exceptions or problems. Then revisit the standard process with issues.
  3. Future state: What does it look like? How is it better?
  4. Transition state: Outline steps to get from where we are today to where we need to be.

Think about what’s happening here. Typically, if anyone ever does dare to address the communication breakdown among parties, what do they typically do? They work to identify the issue(s) and to problem solve against those issues. The process outlined by Mr. Weeast, an expert in operational and change management, takes an opposite approach; helping parties to very quickly begin working together effectively.

Applying these practices outlined by Art Weeast results in an efficient and effective organization that can:


Art Weeast has decades of impressive experience in enterprise-wide leadership, technology & data expertise, Lean Six Sigma methodologies, organizational change management, and in defining and refining operational processes. Art has been a client of policyIQ with three different organizations. When I met Art, I had been involved in the work of streamlining, refining, re-engineering, and automating processes for many years, myself, and—while it was my responsibility and mission to help him in any way that I could to solve his organization’s business problems using our software—I was forever changed by what he taught me!

This post was originally shared following a policyIQ-sponsored webinar in which Mr. Weeast shared his Process Intelligence practices. The policyIQ team continues to share the lessons of his Process Intelligence session year after year. If you’re interested in more information or hands-on support with applying Mr. Weeast’s methodology, reach out to us and we’ll connect you with the appropriate tools, information, and resources!

Support@policyIQ.com, 866.753.1231

A complete solution – presented in a policyIQ CPE event!

As part of our ongoing quarterly CPE event for policyIQ, we are putting together something a bit different – and bigger – than normal!

Join us on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 12pm Eastern Time for the one hour CPE event presented via the web, showcasing policyIQ’s abilities, features and processes for all of your Policy Management needs.  Hosting this session will be Chris Burd, policyIQ Managing Director, and Travis Whalen, policyIQ Product Manager.  Learn more about policyIQ’s solution possibilities here.

In this Introduction to policyIQ CPE session, participants will be able to (among other milestones):

  • See how to utilize the import utility to centralize previously disparate content
  • Secure documentation with read, write and edit access – and approval processes
  • Apply search and reporting features to quickly gather information that is critical to decision-making

Sign up for this training here, and learn more about how policyIQ can be an effective solution for your organization’s Policy Management needs.