Critical Importance of Policies and Procedures to Your Company – Add Value

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Policies and Procedures DO “ADD VALUE” to Users and Customers

Policies and procedures add value to most companies for any number of reasons depending on the nature of your company’s business, its industry, its sought-after certifications, and its auditors. Companies that argue that they don’t need anything in writing are either very rich and very small or very large, with many layers of politics, and can be doomed to failure.

The purpose of this article is to examine the importance of writing good policies and procedures and how they provide real value to a company.

Good Policies – Adds Value

  1. Policies provide the strategic direction for the company; policies provide guidance to the targeted audience as to the importance of the policy document and/or policy statements contained within documents.
  2. Policies put the force or the authority necessary to guide other policies, procedures, work instructions, business processes, and forms that may support policies and/be directly impacted by policies.
  3. You ask, “How do I know if the document or paragraph that I am reading is a policy?”
  4. Policy documents and policy statements will always use absolute types of words such as must, shall, require, will, authorize, forbid, sanction, fine, disallow, and so on.
  5. If the document is titled as a “Policy” or if a section within a document is titled “Policy Section” and these forceful and authoritative types of words do not exist, then you should question the source and/or writers of the documents and/or statements.
  6. Policies are written in clear, concise, simple language using a standard writing format template.
  7. Policy statements address what is the rule rather than how to implement the rule.
  8. Policy statements are readily available and their authority is clear.
  9. Policies typically carry the approval of a senior level manager and/or the President of a company.

Good Procedures – Adds Value

  1. Procedures provide the activities, the business processes, the people, the environment, the technology, and related documents that help to support the policy’s strategic direction and advice.
  2. Procedures should be developed with the users in mind. Well-developed and thought out procedures add value to the users because the content or the information can be used to:
  3. Perform an action, e.g. complete a form for a vacation request or go to a website to change beneficiaries.
  4. Confirm understanding of information that may be helpful in future situations, e.g. if the Company says it will terminate an employee for any kind of violence, then the employee has information of what he should avoid doing.
  5. Serve as a reference to another policy or procedure document or as a reference during a meeting or other discussions, e.g. if the procedure contains information about employee sick leave, then a group meeting might make reference to this procedure.
  6. Procedures should be representative of the thoughts and ideas of the users, or at least they should; in other words, an experienced procedure writer knows to include the ideas of the major users to ensure buy-in and to ensure champions are available to help procedure writers to communicate new or revised procedures to targeted audiences.
  7. Procedures are clear in meaning, free of complex jargon, and are easily understandable. Procedures should be written so that what needs to be done can be easily followed by all users.
  8. Procedures often provide references to the correct forms to use when completing one or more actions reflected within the procedure. In some cases, a copy of the form can be placed into the appendices for the procedures.
  9. When feasible, procedures should offer the user alternatives; procedures that are unnecessarily restrictive or difficult to read may be glossed over or ignored by the readers.

In summary,

  1. With written policies and procedures, management can make consistent decisions and employees can be assured that consistent decisions will be made on what’s important to them.
  2. Without written policies and procedures and/or poorly researched and designed policies and procedures, management can run the “wild wild west” and make any decision they please and employees will have to place all of their trust in this management.

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