Technology and policy management: nice to have or need to have"

While policy management has enjoyed a resurgence in importance after the challenges of 2020 and 2021, a key question remains for many decision makers: what is the best way to enhance policy management in the ?new normal? of hybrid working?

Should they hire consultants to review their policies, and create a policy roadmap that addresses the demands of more flexible working arrangements? Should they hire more HR specialists and policy analysts to help them navigate and manage a more complex policy world? Or should they just wait and see, and see what everyone else does?

Attitudes to hybrid working

The full impact of hybrid working is difficult to assess at this stage. Attitudes to hybrid working are  likely to change, technology will change and businesses themselves will change. Making concrete decisions now will not necessarily address the issues that emerge, but organisations need to be prepared.

From the conversations we have had with customers, the optimal approach may be to invest in ?flexibility?. As a clearer picture of how staff and management want to make use of hybrid working emerges, this flexibility ensures organisations can be well placed to pivot in a new direction to address issues that emerge. Our customers see technology as a key enabler for the changes to come.

A flexible technology solution can create great value for a business, offering a powerful platform that an organisation can build on to address significant issues now and in the future.  

Components of a technology solution for best-of-breed enterprise-wide policy management

  1. A centralised policy library

 This is the cornerstone of the whole platform. It allows policy managers to control what policy documentation is made available so they can ensure that only the current versions are accessible. It also allows users to find the relevant policies for their role, quickly and easily, and provides a platform to deliver the transparency and auditability now expected of policy management by managers, stakeholders and auditors.

  1. Automated workflow

The value of automation lies in efficiency savings and reduced scope for error. In policy management there is a significant volume of workflow, for example creating new policy documentation. These start with an initial draft, circulated for comment to multiple departments. Mark-ups to these documents need to be captured and reviewed, with updates circulated until the final draft is agreed. The final version needs to be reviewed and approved by senior management before the new policy document can be published to the relevant users, with access to the old version restricted, and capturing the attestation of these users to this new policy. Automating this process saves time and money.

  1. Automated training and assessment

Policy management is only effective if staff can access the training and educational materials they need in an easy and convenient way, to ensure they are aware of what is expected of them. The assessment process to test their understanding also needs to be easy to use. The monitoring of the results needs to be straightforward, to provide assurance to senior management and swiftly identify pockets of non-compliance.  This whole process needs to be easy to manage and adapt as requirements change. Again, this automation drives efficiency savings.

  1. Powerful development capabilities

Policy management will change in a dynamic business, and having the ability to create new document types, new training modules and new workflows is essential. The platform needs to be easy to develop and support, so that staff can implement changes using easy-to-use intuitive toolsets, that do not require scarce coding skills.

  1. Enterprise-wide visibility and reporting

Policy management falls under the remit of the overarching Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) framework that a business utilises. A policy management platform needs to be easily integrated into a GRC dashboard, so directors and senior managers can swiftly see issues e.g. employees that have not attested to a new policy, should they emerge. It also needs powerful reporting capabilities so policy managers and business managers can understand and quickly assess the policy management and compliance picture, as new challenges and business dynamics emerge.

You can learn more about how to use technology to build an effective compliance program by watching this video.  

 

Area of expertise: