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Policy and Procedure Software: What is it? Is it worth it? What's your experience?

policy & procedure softwarePolicies and procedures are important to all companies. A company can be sued for failing to operate within certain policies and procedures. A company can also open itself up to fraudulent activity if it fails to follow the policies and procedures it puts in place, especially in separation of duties among its staff. Software companies offering software to companies say that the software automates the process and reduces administrative costs. Another stated benefit is that the company will be “audit ready”. With software that focuses on policies and procedures the perception is that the software can, in essence, make sure no one falls into non-compliance. I believe that in any organization there should be a consistent place for holding policies and procedures, instead of with a few chosen people. Do these software choices actually keep the policies and procedures available for anyone to view, thus ensuring compliance? Are you using software that is considered a policies and procedures management software? Are they really effective at preventing fraud within the company? It seems to me that portions can be controlled within an ERP system that will allow a user to have specific roles. To that extent, is a policies and procedures software really necessary?

Answers

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I am somewhat leary about a policy/proceudre software. Much like all automated systems, I would expect a lot of exceptions for each industry that one software system will not be able to manage. Just holding documentation is not worth paying for.

Regardless of the size of the company, I do overwhelmingly agree in the need for documentation of processes. I have worked in several growing businesses where no processes were documented at first since the team knew one another and there was trust that everyone knew and followed the (unwritten) rules. What followed was a growth spurt and then abuses of non-existent processes. These should be maintained in one central area and updated on a scheduled basis.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Sara - Thank you for taking the time to answer. All too often policies and procedures are lost in folders or sub-folders that no one seems to be able to find on a server.

How often do you think is appropriate for updates? Quarterly, semi-annual, annual, another time frame?

I've seen too many times that updates are made as a reaction to an issue. The same issue could have been avoided with a schedule update.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

If you are audited, all processes and systems should be reviewed by the Auditor (so the time to re-document changes is before).

However, you should re-document every time you change, and if you have the resources, I'd say every six months.

Bobby Bateman
Title: Junior Partner
Company: ComplianceBridge
LinkedIn Profile
(Junior Partner, ComplianceBridge) |

I actually created a course currently on the Proformative learning platform titled "Policy and Procedure Best Practices: Management, Distribution, and Tracking"

https://www.proformative.com/courses/policy-and-procedure

In there, I highlighted a number of challenges organizations commonly face regarding policy and procedure management (sans software solution). These include lack of a central repository, difficulty to mediate multiple users edits, content gets lost, impossible to know what the most current version is, lack of standard formatting, no targeted distribution, very laborious or no ability to ensure users have read and signed off on P&P's, legal issues resulting from lack of sign offs, lost productivity due to lost or hard to find content, no reporting and enforcing compliance on documents, and more.

I believe organizations that institute a policy and procedure management software will receive the four main outcomes. Some organizations may prize or value some over the other, but all are important to almost every organization.

1) Align company vision an execution. P&P's can be a key way to impart tone from the top, direction, and more down to the grass roots of an org.

2) Employees empowered with appropriate information. This allows them to do their job more efficiently and accurately.

3) Easy to located P&P's, and ensure they are up to date, consistent, and effective throughout the organization.

4) Protect the company from liability and legal risks.

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