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

Differentiating the Roles of Policies and Procedures Owner from Contributor and Custodian

– Raymond E. Urgo

Question

Do organizations ever use the term “owner” in reference to policies and procedures (P&P) content?

Answer

Yes, the term “owner” is frequently used in reference to P&P content; however, how the term is used may vary and is often misunderstood and should be clarified.

Definition: organization owner

By default, the head(s) or owner(s) of an organization is the “official” owner responsible for all organizational P&P, whether codified or not, because the P&P are part of the organization. If there is a dispute from within or outside the organization about an aspect of an organizational practice, the organization’s owner(s) is responsible and has authority to settle the dispute.

Owner vs. contributor

The designated “owner” refers to the person who is assigned responsibility and authorized to establish and communicate a policy, process, procedure, and related information, whether or not it is officially documented or implemented.

Example: owner vs. contributors

A vice president of sales and marketing may be designated as the owner of the company’s sales process. If the vice president, the owner, then delegates someone to document P&P and obtain his approval, the vice president remains the owner (or what some organizations also refer to as the author) of that content. If subject experts, users, customers, or staff members provide content or feedback, their role becomes content contributors, not co-owners (nor co-authors), of the information.

Owner vs. custodian

The “owner“, who is responsible for documented P&P under his/her jurisdiction, is often confused with the role of P&P “custodian”, which is the person(s) in the organization responsible for overseeing and administering the organization’s P&P function or program.

Example: owner vs. custodian

The manager of an organization’s P&P function is the custodian of the P&P content for the organization’s P&P content owners. A major responsibility of the custodian is to ensure that P&P content is designed, developed, communicated, reviewed, approved, published, and maintained according to the organization’s P&P for developing and managing P&P content.

Conclusion

The use of the term “owner” as a role in P&P communication may vary and can be confused with other P&P roles. An organization should clearly define and communicate the roles and responsibilities of the “owner” and clarify all other roles in the development and management of P&P that are clearly documented.

For assistance in defining the role of owner and other players in the policy and procedure development process, program, or function in your organization, contact Urgo & Associates.