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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 & Procedures Owner from Practitioner

- Raymond E. Urgo

Question

What is the difference between the role of the content owner and the policies and procedures (P&P) practitioner in developing P&P content?

Answer

Development of P&P content in organizations should be a collaborative effort involving a number of parties, two of which are the content owner (sometimes called author) and the P&P practitioner (sometimes called P&P analyst, writer, manager, or consultant). The owner represents the authority on what the content says. The P&P practitioner represents the authority on how the content is presented. The P&P practitioner functions as a “ghost writer” for the content owner by communicating P&P according to the organization’s publication standards for P&P.

Owner defined

The owner refers to the person within a position or role responsible for overseeing an organizational process or function, and the P&P content associated with that process or function. An owner may delegate the responsibility of authoring content (and possibly implementing or enhancing the process or function) to a subordinate or consultant who is a subject expert.

Responsibilities of owner

The role of an owner is a leader, change agent, and advocate responsible for aligning his/her organizational process or function to meet strategic objectives of the organization. This role involves presenting ideas and soliciting buy-in, feedback, and funding from stakeholders and others affected by the owner’s process or function. An owner needs to stay apprised of laws, regulations, and competition that may affect how his/her process or function must evolve, and then be communicated with up-to-date P&P content.

P&P practitioner defined

The P&P practitioner refers to the person within a position or role responsible for developing and managing P&P content, and possibly the P&P function. The P&P practitioner may work solo or as part of a P&P group within or outside the organization.

Responsibilities of P&P practitioner

The role of a P&P practitioner in content development alone involves leading the owner/author in creating user-oriented content that meets the organization’s standards for publishing P&P content. Responsibilities include identifying scope of coverage for the audience, gathering information, writing and editing, coordinating documentation reviews and approvals, and managing the documentation project.

Common mistakes

Many organizational leaders make the mistake of not hiring or engaging P&P practitioners proficient in P&P communication. Some leaders never think of this possibility, know such professionals exist, nor how to find qualified talent. Some think any intelligent person can write, or giving people templates is the solution—not true as repeatedly proven with dismal outcomes. Too often leaders engage a subject expert knowledgeable about the process or function but not the principles and techniques for communicating effective P&P content for today’s diverse media and demanding users of P&P.

Consequences of mistakes

The common mistakes may burden the content owner with self-learning and performing responsibilities of a P&P practitioner, often times not cost effectively. Documentation projects are likely to be unmanaged, poorly managed, usurped, faded away, and have nothing published. If content is published, it is likely inferior causing users with frustrations and the workplace with interruptions, confusion, rework, and higher risk.

Conclusion

For today’s workplace, the roles of content owner and P&P practitioner must be clearly defined and positioned as collaborative. Doing so, will better ensure the owner’s subject knowledge is communicated according to quality standards users prefer and in a cost-effective way.

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To assist your organization in assessing, designing, and implementing the roles involved for collaboratively developing, communicating, managing, and publishing P&P content, contact Urgo & Associates.