Five ways to make sure your policies reflect real-time business conditions.
You hear a lot these days about the ways that individuals’ private data is collected and potentially exposed—to technology companies, employers, the government and so on. You hear less about the concern of many employers, who are facing a related problem: How can they keep up with the torrent of new communication and social technologies—and their potential impact on corporate policies?
Most companies have policies that govern what information their personnel can share or what they can say during the day in the workplace. But what about after hours? What about outside the office? And what about sharing information via a new mobile app? Does using it violate a company policy that only addresses phones and email?
Policies Need to Reflect Real-Time Business Conditions
Policies should reflect real-time business conditions—the way your people work, the gear they use, and the latest regulatory changes.
Of course, this is anything but easy. It can often feel like no sooner have you trained your team on a new policy than the policy has become obsolete, thanks to a change in your business, the regulatory climate or your evolving workforce. The best approach, then, is to regularly and rigorously examine changing business conditions, so you can quickly identify where you may need to make policy adjustments.
Your review should start with a basic set of questions. Here’s a quick checklist for keeping up with the pace of change:
- Workforce: Has the nature of your workforce changed? Are employees working remotely more often, for instance? Are they doing their jobs differently?
- Operations and Business Structure: Start with changes to products, services and delivery methods. Then look for changes to operating budgets, which signal changes to the way you function. Are you outsourcing certain jobs? If so, how do your policies govern those contracts, to ensure vendors’ compliance? If you’re offering customers new ways to pay, what policies govern that process?
- Leadership: Anytime the organization gets new blood at the top, you can expect a shift in direction. Policy updates should track those strategic and tactical changes.
- Technology: This is a big one. Nowadays businesses of every size constantly invest in and deploy new technology. Whenever that happens, it’s vital to ensure that policies reflect technologies currently in use. On top of that, employees frequently use their own devices for job functions, and customers may be using the latest technology to interact with your business.
- Compliance and Legal: The rate of evolution is increasing here too, as regulators and policy makers attempt to keep up with the modern marketplace. Plus, more businesses are operating in the global economy; that means staying on top of legal shifts in far-flung jurisdictions.
Asking these questions is just a start, clearly. Good policy management requires not only staying on top of the changing business environment but also ruthless discipline throughout the policy lifecycle. Those who exercise that discipline will reap the rewards in organizational alignment, organizational culture and ultimately financial results.
To learn more about how to effectively and efficiently manage your organization’s policies and procedures, you can download our free eBook, The Definitive Guide to Policy Management.