Fierce Competitors are Built on Strong Core Processes

If your goal is to be a fierce competitor and to protect and defend your organization against the never-ending barrage of risks and change, a great place to start is by strengthening your core processes.

Policy management is the backbone of successful and sustainable organizations.

What do you think of when you think of policies? Does your Human Resources department manage a set of company policies that you have to attest to annually? Maybe you recognize the fact that your organization has a password policy and a policy regarding the use of social media on company equipment and company time.

In our recent webinar with guest presenter Michael Rasmussen, we heard a whole host of examples and reasons why organizations should be concerned with policies. If, up until now, you have not been particularly concerned about the value of your organization’s policies, you might want to lean in and peruse these notes from the Blueprint for Effective Policy Development and Management session:

Raise your hand if you are aware of where to find your organization’s index of official policies representing all areas of your business. Mr. Rasmussen asked a similar question of his audience at a recent conference and just 2% of attendees acknowledged awareness of an index maintained at the enterprise level of the organization’s policies.

Only a very small number of organizations see policies as the critical documents that they are. Mr. Rasmussen noted that policies are often not given proper attention and are strewn about in various systems, websites, shared drives and so on. Employees don’t know where to go to find documents or whether the document they found holds the latest version of the policy. In our session, Rasmussen emphasized why employees and leaders should value policies and highlighted some examples of how policies are at the core of every organization’s critical work:

  • Policies are GOVERNANCE documents.
    • Policies are critical documents.
    • They help to set boundaries to reliably achieve objectives
    • Policies ensure consistent business behavior and transactions.
  • Policies are RISK documents.
    • The existence of each policy was preceded by the identification of a risk!
    • Still, many business leaders do not think of risks when they think of policies and many do not tie organization policies to risks.
    • Policies help to identify risks and control risks within certain boundaries.
  • Policies are COMPLIANCE documents.
    • Policies help us to act with integrity as it relates to
      • Regulatory requirements
      • Contract obligations
      • Code of conduct
      • Values and Ethics
      • Corporate social responsibility
      • And so much more

Policies are at the core of all Governance, Risk, and Compliance work.
If the advantages of effective policy development and management are not compelling enough to motivate your leaders to establish policies throughout the organization, this regulatory environment might force the issue. An evidence trail is critical in today’s regulatory environment. Policy management requires a complete system of record and an audit trail.

policyIQ provides company and division leaders with a highly adaptable technology for managing the full range of policy, compliance, and audit needs in one cost-effective platform scalable from specific regulatory environments and department functions to division business units and at the enterprise level. Maintaining a clear and defensible audit trail is paramount to the service and benefit provided by our GRC technology.

In part I of the policy management educational series hosted by RGP’s policyIQ team, Michael Rasmussen highlighted the considerations that are critical for development of a policy management strategy, the roles that contribute to policy management, and he drilled deep into the effective policy management lifecycle.

In part II, Michael will concentrate on the second half of the effective policy management lifecycle. The attendees of our first session gave rave reviews of the presentation. Be sure to register for Part II: Engage the Front Lines Through Effective Policy Communication.

We also encourage you to peruse upcoming events hosted by the policyIQ team. This audience, in particular, might be interested in our Introduction to policyIQ session that is delivered quarterly and demonstrates how organizations leverage policyIQ to establish consistent documentation templates, prescribe workflow and approval processes, communicate and distribute policies, monitor and enforce compliance with policies, and to establish a maintenance process for your critical documentation.

Click here to register for the sessions that interest you and we invite you to reach out to us (information@policyIQ.com or 866.753.1231) with questions about effective policy management, policyIQ (our governance, risk, and compliance technology), or if you could use the support and expertise of a RGP professional to help get your program off the ground.

We look forward to seeing you in future sessions!

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

Policies Provide Foundation through Changing Regulatory Environment

Regulatory environments are constantly changing, influenced by economic, political and environmental factors beyond your company’s control.  It might seem like a daily battle to deal with the push and pull of complying with changing regulations.  So how do you stay focused, prepared and sane in the world of regulatory compliance?

One critical step is to ensure that you have well documented, well communicated and well understood corporate policies.  

Policies provide the foundation, governing the way in which your employees will work and how they will meet new regulatory requirements.  When the foundation is strong, with clear policies that are followed and enforced consistently, additional external expectations and requirements are much easier to incorporate.  

Here are just a few best practices to consider:

  1. Ensure that policies are written clearly.  Avoid company jargon or acronyms that may be unclear to new employees or external regulators.

  2. Make policies easily accessible to all employees.  If you are already using policyIQ, ensure that a policyIQ link is posted or communicated regularly.

  3. Clarify whether any exceptions might be approved to the policy, and communicate the process for approval for exceptions.  If it is not clear, employees may be more likely to decide it will be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

  4. Document how policy violations will be addressed or how policies will be enforced.

  5. Revisit, review and revised policies regularly.  Do not allow policies to become outdated or appear to be outdated.  Even if no changes are made, regularly note that content has been reviewed, so that employees

  6. Map policies to your regulatory requirements or other compliance programs.  As regulations change, you can more easily identify any changes that must be made in your policies to address those changes.  

What other best practices would you highlight for a clear corporate policy platform?  Add yours in the comments and share ideas! Learn more about how to utilize policyIQ’s various read-only options by checking out a recent blog post by policyIQ Product Manager, Travis Whalen.

Spotlight on Higher Education

We hope that everyone is enjoying summer break and looking forward to a productive and fruitful 2016-17 school year! For the same amount of time that this year’s college seniors have been in school, policyIQ has been in the business of supporting organizations with more effective and efficient Policy Management. To that end, we recognize that these supports are critical:
PolicyManagement

Unique Needs of Higher Ed

We are grateful for the partnerships that we have with institutions of higher education to support their unique needs in policy management. Similar to the healthcare organizations that we serve, educational organizations have internal/administrative policies and procedures, as well as policy documentation that is directed to the audience that they serve. In the case of schools, we are talking about their students and faculty.

Organizations with both internal and external audiences often oversee various methods or systems for disseminating information. Part of the challenge that they are continually working to meet is keeping track of all of their documentation, recalling what system it is managed from and where it is in the process of upkeep and compliance. While policyIQ can certainly be the home base for all documentation in organizations that have decentralized audiences, it could also be the hub for mapping documentation to its various outlets. By using the database behind policyIQ to track precisely where documentation is to be found, to whom it must be made available, and which processes are related to it, organizations can ensure that the latest iterations are properly communicated to all pertinent audiences.

Remember, policyIQ is also a great place to capture compliance documentation!

Is your staff properly trained and certified on key procedures? Do you have a means for monitoring and verifying, in real time, who has signed-off on corporate policies? Does your organization have a central point of reference for standards and regulatory requirements? Can you map your organization’s policies and procedures to said requirements and provide evidence of coverage?

“YES!”

This can be your resounding answer to all of these questions with policyIQ.

Today, “Governance, Risk and Compliance” is relevant for organizations of all shapes and sizes—public and not-for-profit. Powerful and affordable, policyIQ can help your organization to be more effective and efficient, too! Contact us at support@policyIQ.com to begin or expand your implementation today.