What is policy management software?
Policy management is an important area for every organisation, to help minimise risk, achieve regulatory compliance and standardise the way employees do things to drive efficiency, however, it does comes with some real challenges. Policy management software is designed to help, and can make a huge difference to successful policy management.
In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of policy management software, looking at why policy management is important, the challenges it throws up, how software can help overcome these challenges and the critical features that can help achieve success.
Why is policy management important?
Policy management is critical. Your employees need easy access to the right policies, procedures and forms so they have the correct information to carry out tasks, perform their roles and make the right decisions. When employees don’t follow the right policies, there are a number of potential risks. Similarly, staff involved in creating or updating policies need to follow robust processes to ensure the right people are consulted in drafting policy, and perhaps also to satisfy regulatory and audit requirements. Outcomes can range from minor to very serious, such as if somebody is not carrying out the right processes relating to health and safety. When policy management is not carried out properly, typical issues include:
- Failing to be compliant to various regulations, opening an organisation up to regulatory or even legal action
- Problems relating to brand and reputation, either with customers or the public
- Inefficiency and lower productivity, caused when actions need to be corrected because people aren’t following the right processes
- Employees being put at risk, with an organisation failing its basic duty of care for its people.
- Damaged plant equipment as a result of an employee not knowing correct procedures for use.
- An organization fails an audit and is fined or loses its licence to operate.
What are the challenges of policy management?
Policy management isn’t always easy. It might sound simple and straightforward, but there are always some associated challenges.
Achieving increasingly complex regulatory compliance
Regulated industries tend to have an increasing number of requirements to minimise risk. Organisations need to achieve complex regulatory compliance, and then demonstrate this compliance to the regulator, often by showing that all employees have read and understood a particular policy, or that policies have been regularly reviewed by the board. The practicalities of carrying this out can be challenging.
Managing documents with multiple versions and multiple stakeholders
Policy management is an ensemble effort. There are usually multiple functions that might manage policies and standard operating procedures, including HR, IT, Finance, Health & Safety, Quality, Legal and more. For each of these functions, there may be multiple policy documents of which there might be multiple versions circulating, especially if users are emailing policies and downloading them to their personal drives. Managing complex policies to effectively minimise risk is not easy.
Training new and existing staff on policies and SOPs
When a person joins a company, they are usually required to read a number of policy documents or standard operating procedures relating to professional conduct, use of IT services or learning safety procedures, for example. Additionally, policies will be updated or introduced from time to time, and it will be necessary for all employees to read these or be aware of the changes.
Let’s be honest – most policies aren’t exactly a riveting read, and when your employees are already maxed out, getting them to digest them can be challenging. Doing this when many of us are still working remotely is even harder.
Tracking employee attestation through policy reads
Even if you can get your employees to access a policy, how do you know they have actually read it, and how do you show a regulator or leader that they have agreed to adhere to it? Keeping track of who has attested to a policy and who needs to be chased is a hugely challenging task that can require a substantial administrative overhead without the right approach.
Keeping documents up to date
Policy owners are very busy, and it can be an effort to get them to keep documents up to date, especially when review and approval is required from multiple people.
What is policy management software?
Policy management software is a system which helps policy owners and digital workplace teams effectively manage their content throughout its lifecycle, ensuring it is created properly, is up-to-date, accurate and effectively distributed to users. Policy management software covers things like authoring, managing, distribution and tracking, and will usually include features such as content workflow, review and approval controls, document versioning, robust access control, analytics and even search.
What are the benefits of policy management software?
Successful policy management software helps organisations resolve many of the challenges and pain points associated with policy management, delivering several headline benefits.
Minimise critical risks
Fundamentally, policy management software makes employees aware of the policies relevant to them. This minimises risks across many aspects of organisational life, from operating machinery safely to following the right GDPR protocols.
Achieve regulatory and legal compliance
Policy management software can help organisations achieve regulatory compliance by ensuring and demonstrating that employees have read policies and are following procedures accordingly. By following the right policies, you are also minimising the risk of falling foul of legal compliance issues. The good news is that data from policy management software shows that your organisation is doing what it can to enforce policies.
Streamline and automate policy management
As we’ve already established, policy management can involve a significant administrative effort. Organisations can rack up both time and cost in creating new policies, keeping them up to date and tracking readership. There is also the risk of data errors when things are done manually, with many tasks carried out over email and tracked in spreadsheets. Policy management software streamlines and automates aspects of policy management, removing the administrative burden, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
Support policy distribution and collaboration
The great thing about policy management software is that it supports the highly effective distribution of policy documentation, usually by keeping everything in a single central hub. This also supports effective policy collaboration, involving the multiple teams and support functions involved in policy management.
Help line managers keep their direct reports compliant
Line managers often play a crucial role in an organisation's compliance with its policies. They need to ensure their direct reports are reading and understanding policies. Policy management software gives line managers the dashboards they need to track which of their people haven't read policies that affect them and their jobs.
Document control to support trust
Policy management software will almost always incorporate document controls to ensure the right people are responsible for the right documents, and that the latest versions are being displayed. These controls help to drive employee trust in the fact that they are accessing the right policies. This is often refered to as the “single source of truth”.
What are the common features of policy management software?
Successful policy management software has a number of key features and functionality to look out for and consider when choosing software that will best suit your business needs. For more information, see our policy management software - buyers guide.
A central document library
At the heart of policy management software is a central document library that acts as an accessible repository of policy and procedural documents for users. The library might be divided into themes, or areas or owners. The document library will ideally have version control to ensure only the very latest versions of policies are displayed and usually the ability to restrict views to certain documents for different groups of users if necessary.
Powerful search and other findability features
Policy management software should have findability tools to help users find the policies they need including a search and configurable tags for different categories of policy to either refine searches or to browse through policies.
Policy authoring workflows
Policy management software should offer tools that help organisations properly govern the creation of new policies and the regular updating of existing ones. Policy owners and other stakeholders involved in these policy authoring processes need to receive notifications and reminders to help them carry out tasks on time. Workflows should automate the various steps of a workflow, including drafting, reviews, approvals and publishing. Furthermore, everything should be recorded and archived for audit purposes.
Mandatory reads and attestation features
Policy management software should also have features that allow organisations to track the mandatory reads of different policies and establish attestation across targeted groups of employees. Ideally, it should work with existing user groups already used for targeting content and communications within an organisation.
Dashboards, reporting and audit trail
Robust reporting is a key feature of policy management software because organisations need assurances that policy management processes are being observed. Reporting and dashboards should cover all aspects of the policy lifecycle from policy creation through to policy distribution. Different stakeholders need different dashboards. Senior managers and compliance managers need a helicopter view with the ability to zoom into issues. Line managers need to see that their direct reports are compliant. Policy owners need to see that stakeholders are carrying out their tasks in the authoring and updating processes. Some organisations need custom dashboards and a good solution will enable these.
A policy management tool should offer personalisation so that an individual user can see policies (including mandatory reads) relevant to that person, based on their individual profile. There should also be personalised views for policy owners and admins to help manage their policies.
Policy management software should also include notifications to help drive adoption and nudge behaviours, both for users involved in employee attestation but policy owners too who need to review the policies they are responsible for.
A good policy management software will be intuitive and easy to use. Employees of all types need to find policies quickly and easily - for example, frontline workers who might not have frequent access to computers in their workplace want simple and quick interfaces with minimal distractions. Policy owners and other stakeholders need software that simplifies and streamlines often complex and cumbersome policy governance processes.
A good policy management tool removes barriers to access. Single Sign-On is a must.
Policy review and approval workflows
Who should use policy management software?
Policy management is important for every organisation – really, every organisation should be using policy management software! However, there are some industries where it is even more of a priority. This is particularly true for regulated industries where compliance is essential and demonstrating compliance generates trust with consumers, such as the healthcare industry.
Other regulated industries include utilities, engineering, energy, mining, construction, financial services, professional services, gambling, agriculture and more. Regulatory compliance can span multiple areas, including:
- Health & safety
- Data protection and privacy (GDPR)
- Information security
- ISO standards
- And more!
Effective policy management is also important for employee experience - a priority for every company.
What are the features of Xoralia that help policy management?
Xoralia has a number of key features that support policy management. It includes all the common features that you would expect from a robust policy management solution (already detailed above) but also:
User-centric central policy library
Xoralia has a central policy library with all the features required such as version control, personalisation, security-trimming, configurable categories and labels, and a powerful search. The solution combines the full power of SharePoint with strong design to allow users to find the policies they need.
Xoralia is designed to provide a great experience on mobile, allowing employees who are on the go or on the frontline access to policies on their smartphone.
Seamless integration with SharePoint and Office 365
Because the base technology for Xoralia is SharePoint, it integrates perfectly with any Office 365 digital workplace, meaning:
- It’s accessible through your SharePoint intranet
- It integrates with Microsoft search
- Policies can be recommended and discussed in Microsoft Teams
- It can be used with existing SharePoint libraries
- It can work with Power Automate workflows and Power BI dashboards.
Xoralia also comes with its own set of special web parts that can be deployed into a SharePoint site or across different parts of your intranet.
Automating recurring attestation tasks
Xoralia streamlines multiple policy attestations and acknowledgements. It makes it easy to target policies, onboard new employees and even handles recurring attestations (e.g. the annual read of the health and safety policy). Gone are the days of using spreadsheets and emails to track attestations. Policy owners and compliance managers can simply set it and forget it.
Automating policy authoring workflows
As detailed above, Xoralia has been designed to streamline multiple aspects of policy administration and authoring, including creating new policies and updating existing ones. To do this, Xoralia has powerful, flexible and intuitive workflows. But for added flexibility, organisations can also create completely custom workflows inside Microsoft Power Automate or Nintex if required.
Actionable reporting and tracking
Xoralia provides robust reporting and tracking of employee attestations and authoring workflows to keep everything on track and completed on time. It's also got dashboards and reporting for compliance managers that want a helicopter view of organisational compliance. Line managers also get dashboards to help them keep an eye on their direct reports attestations. Xoralia is focused on getting the job done and gaining 100% compliance.
Xoralia is available in two flavours. Freemium and paid for. The free version gives you forever access to the full suite of features but restricts you to managing just one document with Xoralia's powerful controls. It's great for small companies or for bigger ones who simply want to give it a trial run.
An exciting product roadmap
Xoralia is constantly being improved and enhanced. At the time of writing (Jan 2024) planned features include:
- Reporting and dashboarding enhancements
- Custom workflow builder with workflow templates
- Custom notifications
- Collect attestations for SharePoint pages, not just documents
- AI search
- AI policy training
- AI quiz creation
- And more!
Easy set-up and installation
We’ve designed Xoralia to be installed easily and quickly. With the correct admin permissions, Xoralia can be set up in just a few minutes, whether it's the freemium or the paid-for edition.
Get in touch!
If you’d like to discuss how you can improve your policy management with Xoralia, then get in touch for a chat and a demo.