Policy Best Practices
What is a policy?
A policy is a high-level statement document that defines “what” must happen. Policies are the rules, the laws to be followed, and they serve as the foundation of any process. Policies must be formally reviewed and approved at least once a year.
For example, a policy can say: We must conduct a risk assessment every year to effectively prevent and mitigate risks.
What is an IT policy?
An IT policy is an organization’s documentation of intent as it relates to the security, confidentiality, and integrity of its various processes, such as Human Resources, Procurement, Change Management, etc. The objectives within a policy are pretty high-level and are designed to be met by the whole organization. It clearly defines modes of conduct, reflects the organization’s values, and determines the cultural structure of your organization.
Why are policies important?
Policies exist to communicate the rules and guidelines to employees. Most regulatory compliance hinges on policy management because of its importance in steering personnel to the right way of doing business.
Policy management is strategic, and organizations that do it right have fewer personnel-related violations.
Policy management best practices
Identify the policies to be created
Examine each of your organization’s departments and brainstorm all the rules that need to be in place and communicated.
Align the policies to a framework or a standard
Aligning your policy to a framework ensures that you are addressing the right requirements and will give you the building blocks to create your policies.
Create a simple, consistent format
A simple, clutter-free policy document is easier to read. Keep a lot of white spaces, focus on page breaks, line breaks, and consistent font formatting. Additionally, keep the flow of the policies consistent so that your employees can know where to expect the content they are looking for. The most common policy flow includes a purpose/objective, scope, ownership, policy statements, related procedures or SOPS, approval, and version history.
Have a clear objective
Since policies are the first documentation that is reviewed by new hires, setting a clear objective helps the reader understand the mission and objectives of the organization.
Keep it short and straightforward
The language used in the policy should be concise, very easy to understand, and leave little room for interpretation. Since this is an enterprise-level document, it should be short with links or addendums that point the user to detailed procedure documents.
Content must reflect your organization
Use your company’s nomenclature within your policies. Make sure you reference the teams and policy owners with the titles used within your organization.
Provide a call to action – what happens if these are not followed? What’s an escalation route?
Provide readers with a way to reach out in the event they notice any nonadherence or additional questions regarding a policy.
Have an approval and version history to document changes made
This is more for auditing purposes. Maintaining a versioning history ensures that we know how the policy has changed over the years and how it affects the environment.
Make your policies available to all employees
Publish your policies in a place such as an internal repository to make sure they are accessible to all your employees.
Update your policies regularly
Review and regularly update your policies to address any organizational or department changes. As a company grows and matures, so are its policies and documentation.
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