Few Give Their Policy Management Systems Passing Grades

This article originally appeared on TLNT.

The days of organizations conducting policy management through spreadsheets, email and generic document-sharing platforms aren’t over yet. But they probably should be.

An out-of-date policy can be dangerous in the hands of an uneducated or careless user.

Because policy management is often a shared responsibility among many departments and affects all employees, the performance and compliance downsides of outdated policy management systems can infect entire organizations. And policy management has arguably never been more challenging than it is today. Regulations and laws continue to change at a rapid pace and many organizations manage hundreds if not thousands of policies, procedures and guidelines. An out-of-date policy can be dangerous in the hands of an uneducated or careless user.

Trying to manage something that complex with software designed for email or simple document storage just doesn’t make sense anymore and it doesn’t do the job in most cases. A recent survey from NAVEX Global® demonstrated that if organizations can overcome budgetary constraints and internal silos, the shift to automated policy-management can make their compliance processes more efficient, measurable and more effective.

Amid this shifting regulatory and legal landscape, my employer, NAVEX Global®, surveyed nearly 1,000 ethics and compliance professionals about their policy management, which consists of the practices associated with managing an organization’s policies or procedures throughout the policy life cycle, including drafting, editing, approving, updating, distributing, storing and documenting policies. Conducted as part of our 2016 Ethics & Compliance Policy Management Benchmark Report, the survey revealed that less than 40 percent of respondents failed to rank any attribute of their current policy management system as “Very Good” or “Excellent”. But 58 percent of those at organizations with automated policy management systems – the gold standard of policy management as we move away from early-2000s era approaches -- were almost at least 2 to 5 time more likely  to rate their policy management programs as “Very Good” or “Excellent”.

Unfortunately, only 17 percent of respondents said they had such a system. That’s likely due in part to ownership silos and a lack of funding -- 40 percent indicated that they either didn’t have funding for policy management or that it is part of a companywide budget.

This “silo effect” can be illustrated by the fact that more than 50 percent of respondents’ organizations have seven or more departmental stakeholders with some level of ownership of policy management and the budgeting process. Two of the three most common departments considered active stakeholders were Human Resources and Ethics & Compliance.

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