Using SharePoint for policy and procedure management
A robust and comprehensive set of policies and procedures play an important role in meeting organisational compliance and minimising risk. However, with continuously evolving laws and regulations, it can often be difficult for policy managers to keep track of multiple document lifecycles and ensure that all employees have been provided with the correct and most up-to-date information in order to do their job and to ensure organisational compliance
Organisations often require an effective policy management system that will enable policy managers and administrators to quickly distribute policies to employees, easily obtain attestation and collaborate on policy updates.Most companies already use Microsoft Office 365 or certain components of it to fulfill their business processes, but a product that is commonly utilised by organisations for policy document management is Microsoft SharePoint.
What is Microsoft SharePoint?
Microsoft SharePoint is a website-based collaboration platform that provides an environment for people inside and outside of an organisation to work together. At it's core, SharePoint can be described as a document management and storage system, that allows the accessing and sharing of information within one centralised location. It also enables organisations to automate their key workflow processes across multiple business areas.
Why SharePoint is ideal for policy and procedure management?
Many organisations now have a digital workplace based on Office 365, using SharePoint Online as the basis for their intranet and document collaboration. This is great news for effective policy management because SharePoint is an ideal base technology for successful policy management.
The key component of SharePoint is it's document management capabilities. It encompasses a wide variety of functionalities and features that are ideal for managing the lifecycle of controlled documents in an robust and process-driven way, from the creation and dissemination of new policies, through to policy review.
Combined with the other tools available in Office 365, SharePoint offers an advanced and comprehensive policy management solution that will suit organisations of all sizes.
Key reasons to use SharePoint for policy management
You probably already have SharePoint
SharePoint is already bundled in with many organisations’ Office 365 or Microsoft 365 licensing and will likely already be used for document management, so it’s ready to use for policy management.
You can introduce automation
You can leverage SharePoint features and other 365 tools such as Power Automate to automate workflows and other processes around the policy content lifecycle.
Audit trails are possible
You can get a complete audit trail of changes made to policies, again enforcing and demonstrating compliance.
It provides easy access for all employees
You can provide easier access to your policy and procedure documentation, particularly if all staff have 365 licenses and you have a SharePoint intranet which everybody can access. Employees may also be able to access policies through the increasingly central Microsoft Teams.
You can leverage Microsoft search
You can leverage Microsoft search to ensure policies are covered, helping employees find the everyday policies they need through your intranet search.
You can track usage
You can track the usage and data of policies, including analytics and even mandatory reads if this is set up correctly. You can also use Power BI to deliver real-time reporting to support policy management.
You can target policies
You can integrate with Azure Active Directory and the 365 groups that have been set up to help target policies to the right groups, such as new hires or a function like engineering or sales staff. You can also ensure people access the right policy based on their profile so people in Brazil see a different HR policy to those in France, for example.
What is SharePoint missing?
Although SharePoint is a highly flexible platform that offers many great features for document management, there are some important areas that it doesn't cover. This means you'll likely need either some custom development or advanced configuration to make SharePoint into a full policy management solution.
There are two options you could use to achieve this.
1. Build functionality using Microsoft's rich toolset, using tools like Power Automate, Power BI and some clever code. This is not an easy task by an stretch of the imagination, but you'll have fun along the way and learn a whole lot!
2. Another way is use to Xoralia policy management software. Xoralia has been built for sharePoint and enables you keep all your policies inside SharePoint and leverage the good stuff like version control, workflows etc, whilst filling the gaps in functionality that SharePoint doesn't provide.
What gaps does Xoralia policy management software fill?
Xoralia software is a full policy management solution that provides a comprehensive set of features and functionalities designed to fill the gaps in SharePoint and to provide the sophistication that a robust policy management regime demands. Xoralia policy management software includes:
A central policy library
Xoralia acts as a central policy and procedure library that can be reached via a SharePoint-based intranet or via a SharePoint site. When accessing Xoralia, users are presented with an attractive and intuitive interface that has been designed to help employees find the policy documents they are looking for.
Each policy is listed with details including the title, the owner, the document format, the date it was last updated and any related instructions, such as whether it must be read. These instructions are personalised to the user. A handy summary at the top of the page also lets a user see the number of policies that they have to read.
Organisations may need to demonstrate to regulators or other external bodies that they have robust processes in place to manage their policies and that all employees have read policies that are considered to be mandatory. Xoralia leverages the power of SharePoint to provide a complete audit trail of document changes, and also shows clear review policies in place with the ability to track these.
Xoralia can help ensure employees are carrying out mandatory reads. If a policy is mandatory to read, an employee can access the document within the app and confirm attestation once it has been read. It's built-in report then shows policy owners and admins the percentage of those who have read the policy.
Notifications ensure that policy owners are reminded to review the policies they own. Xoralia also has a simple dashboard that displays when a policy is due for review or has expired.
Reports for mandatory reads and more
Xoralia comes with powerful tracking and reporting tools. It shows policy owners the percentage of users that have read a policy, whilst administrators can access a more detailed report showing the status of all mandatory reads as well as other information relating to document status.
These reports can help teams to prepare for audits, and help policy managers see when interventions may be necessary.
Strong search facility
It is important for employees to be able to find the right policy quickly and effortlessly. Xoralia includes a strong search facility whereby an employee can enter keywords to find the policy they are looking for. Additionally, employees can filter by different categories including mandatory and non-mandatory reads, the department that owns the policy (IT, HR, Legal etc.) as well as custom tags .
Easy installation and deployment
Xoralia is quick and easy to implement. Because Xoralia can be applied to an existing SharePoint library it means you can easily convert an existing policy library to Xoralia. It can also be deployed from within any SharePoint intranet or other SharePoint site.
Why choose a product like Xoralia for policy management?
Implementing a pre-built, dedicated SharePoint policy management software solution like Xoralia can prove to be a great option, which:
- Has all the features you need
- Is more cost-effective than building your own solution
- Is easy to manage on an ongoing basis because it’s a SaaS product updated in the cloud
- Has all the training and support material ready to go
- Can already integrate with existing SharePoint libraries that you may already be using for policy management.
If you’d like to discuss how you can improve your policy management, then get in touch, or even book a demo of Xoralia where we can walk you through the main features.