Definition – Policies and Procedures involve ensuring control over processes, giving directions, setting standards and following them. In other words, maintaining compliance or preserving requirements. The Policies are a set of rules or guidelines that are decided upon by higher-ups. The Procedures are the steps or processes involved in completing a task. Policies and Procedures:
- are a growing necessity in Companies as they aid in ensuring accuracy, consistency, upholding standards, and
- usually answer questions of who, what, and how.
Companies are paying more attention to compliance due to concerned awareness of risk management, security, confidentiality, etc. From protocols and regulation material to process breakdowns, companies are now having more Technical Writers create Policies and Procedures documents.
Industry Usage – You need Policies and Procedures for laws, guidance, audits, performance improvement, training, sales and marketing, instructional designers, medical writers, etc.
Below is a sample list of areas in organizations using Policies and Procedures:
- Healthcare – in elderly care (for appointments, lab procedures, admission/release process, equipment usage, emergency care, insurance, etc.)
- Business – in insurance (for processing claims, liabilities, appraisals, reinsurance, etc.)
- HR – in orientation of new hires (for employee handbooks, training, etc.)
- Education – in learning (for equipment handling, libraries, labs, instruction material, etc.)
- Manufacturing – in production (for safety procedures, setting routines, monitoring schedules, quality checks, etc.)
- Technology – in applications (for setting development standards, designing new software, authenticating privileged users, testing systems, data management, etc.)
As shown above, Policies and Procedures help eliminate confusion by reducing questions and errors, clarify instructions, and maintain smooth operations by keeping stakeholders all on the same page.
Writing – Creating Policies and Procedures is not an easy task. It involves a lot of research and verification. Begin by creating an outline for yourself as to who needs to be interviewed and observed and what needs to be researched. For Policies and Procedures to work, keep it up-to-date. In the end, they have to be for the target audience and be user-friendly. Follow many of the rules mentioned in previous posts to make your document understandable and clear. Most importantly make sure the higher-ups support the creation of Policies and Procedures. Also, interview the right resources, such as your SME (Subject Matter Expert).
Questions to ask:
- what (does the policy or procedure do, what is expected, acceptable, and what is not.),
- why (is it done this way, does it have a history, etc.),
- where (is this policy or procedure performed, under what circumstances, etc.),
- when (does this policy or procedure occur, etc.),
- how (is this policy or procedure prepared, completed, etc.), and
- who (is responsible for ensuring the success of the Policies and Procedures, who is affected or is involved, etc.).
Organization – Organize the Policies and Procedures so that they are all located in one central database or location and is easily accessible to the right personnel. Categorize them for easier access. Create a process to maintain communication on all levels so that you can track changes and apply updates accordingly.
If you have thoughts to add, please leave a comment.