P&P Policies and Procedures Consulting
P&P Policies and Procedures Consulting

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The Policies & Procedures Authority – The newsletter about the art of transforming workplace learning and performance through Policies & Procedures Communication

Providing Job-based Policies & Procedures that Support Compliance Requirements

– Raymond E. Urgo

Challenge of P&P for compliance

Organizations develop policies and procedures to support industry certification and compliance requirements. Unfortunately, companies often develop P&P information that is not helpful to all employees who must use the information. In fact, one study found that 40 percent of U.S. companies failed ISO certification because of problems with unclear or missing P&P documentation, resulting in wasted time, money, and effort.

Compliance-based vs. performance-based

Urgo & Associates finds that many companies design their P&P information from a regulatory-, certification-, or compliance-based approach, rather than from an operational or performance-based perspective. While the information may be fine from a legal or auditing point of view, employees need a performance-based or operational approach to easily implement the requirements as part of their jobs.

Example: Costly P&P mistakes

A national insurance company vice president of finance was assigned the responsibility of ensuring that the organization was in compliance with the U.S. Sarbanes Oxley legislation, which requires financial controls and reporting in publicly held companies. The vice president wanted P&P developed to comply with the legislation, as well as to provide information that employees could use for learning and performance. However, the vice president hired an outside consultant, experienced with documenting the information from an auditing perspective, but without the experience to develop and present effective P&P content from an employee or user perspective. How to maximize the information-development investment, while also considering other department needs for implementing the legislation, was not considered. Unfortunately, a plan for maintaining the financial investment of the P&P information as an ongoing knowledge resource to the organization was not considered.

Result: Employees reported that the P&P documentation was not helpful to them in their jobs. They complained that they spent considerable time seeking answers to unanswered questions, unraveling misinterpretations, interrupting others to get answers, and re-doing tasks. Discrepancies between the P&P and the training material were obvious, and a process was not available for communicating enhancements or suggesting changes to the information. (Obviously, employees decided not to use the P&P documentation again!) Although the company passed the audit, it spent thousands of dollars on content that was not useable for employees. The result was reduced productivity and effectiveness by both current and new employees. This misguided investment devalued the role, purpose, and value that P&P information should have in workplace communication. Therefore, the head of finance oversaw implementation of a costly and non-profitable investment in P&P as a workplace resource.

Conclusion

Today’s ongoing compliance requirements make it important to ensure that P&P documentation not only supports the requirements but, at the same time, provides a safety net to which employees can turn for their varying performance needs. Companies will only see the return on their investment—increased productivity, fewer errors, fewer lawsuits, and P&P as a continuing resource—by supporting compliance requirements with easy-to-use P&P based upon the needs of employees to do their jobs.


To ensure that your investment in policies and procedures information is providing value for users in a cost-effective way, contact Urgo & Associates.