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

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How Many Organizations Have “Written” Policies & Procedures for their Operations?

By Raymond E. Urgo

Question

Are there any statistics about how many companies have written policies and procedures for their operations, including marketing?

Answer in short

I am not aware of any formal or informal statistics available nor can I think of a source that might have such data. However, based on my 35 years specializing in policies and procedures (P&P) in organizations, I estimate that 60 percent of organizations have some form of written P&P. This estimate varies widely by size, age, nature, function, and industry of organizations, and what is meant by “written”, “P&P”, and “operations”.

More relevant and important question

Perhaps a more relevant question is “how many organizations have P&P that are useful (appropriate, sufficient, and up-to-date) and usable (accessible and understandable) for intended users?” Considering these variables, I estimate that less than 20 percent of organizations have written P&P that are at least 80 percent useful and useable.

Examples about useful and usable

Here are two examples of organizations having written P&P and the relevance about useful and useable content. A manufacturing plant that produced high-reliability, electro-mechanical parts used in the aerospace-defense industry had written P&P for most organizational functions. However, its set of P&P content had not been updated in at least 17 years and remained in binders throughout the plant. The content was not useful to anyone, including an historian if there ever was one. The second example is the purchasing department of a community redevelopment agency that had copious binders of written P&P. The department manager called upon me for assistance because employees complained they were more confused after they read the content then before, even though they wrote and published the content themselves, and then unsuccessfully contracted a technical writer to rewrite it. In both these examples, the organizations had written P&P; however, they were neither not useful nor usable to the intended audiences.

Estimates for marketing operations

As for marketing operations, I estimate that less than 30 percent of organizations have written P&P for this function, and that less than 20 percent have at least 70 percent of their content that is useful and usable. I find it rare for marketing functions to call upon a need for assistance with P&P. My rationale is that marketing focuses on innovation, future thinking, and strategies to remain competitive, and less concerned with predictability, repeatability, and consistency in its operations. Also, marketing is not compliance driven, accreditation seeking, nor prone to lawsuits—three factors that fuel organizations to invest well in P&P. By comparison, I expect that the organizational function to most likely have written P&P that are most likely useful and usable is employee relations. And by the way, I estimate 95 percent of organizations lack adequate P&P on their P&P function (if they have one)—how ironic!

Conclusion

More than 50 percent of organizations have written P&P. For those that do, nearly 20 percent have P&P that are at least 80 percent useful and useable. One contributing factor to this low percentage is that 95 percent of organizations lack adequate P&P on their P&P function.

For an assessment and advice on your organization’s needs for having written policies and procedures that are useful and useable, contact Urgo & Associates.