Policies and Processes to use, not store – Four things to watch out for
When talking to service providers we ask them how they manage their compliance documents. “How do you manage policies and processes today? Do you have a document management system?” And often the answer ranges from - “Well, to be honest I’m not sure” to “Hard paper folders are on a shelf in the Operations Managers office. Hardly anyone knows what’s in them and even less use them” or “We have a system but it’s really hard to retrieve what I need”.
So why does the Auditor or a new staff member struggle to find and understand which the relevant and reliable document? There are four problems to watch out for:
1. Documents are a poor way to store information. Hard copies are old hat and hard to maintain (and not good for the environment)
2. Electronic systems are a great way to store documents. But they encourage people to keep documents that are out of date and can be difficult to search. Most electronic systems are great at storage, not retrieval.
3. The system is only as good as the tags and descriptions attached to the document. If the organisation isn’t disciplined enough to categorise documents, then people will hold their own versions. A silo mentality develops. Systems requiring disciplined usage just don’t work anymore
4. Siloed documents are impossible to locate, and eventually staff will ignore what’s stored. Ask Harry, because he’s been there the longest and knows how everything works!
These systems use the concept of lists to store data. Lists comprise columns and data. Lists can import data from external sources, and connect to other lists. Want to store a list of contacts? Great. Maintain a list of schedules or regulations. No problem. But as soon as you want to look up the related content within a document, it is a real problem.
So what is the alternative?
We believe that those that are trying to do the right thing by following process and staying compliant, should have a system that gives them an easy interface and immersive experience – that reimagines how policies and processes should be consumed.
How do you store information that is related, consistent and a single source of truth?
Business management systems allow control over content, information, people’s roles and what they see. The risk is that they are referencing out-of-date training materials. By not accessing the latest policies they could put participants and themselves in danger by learning the wrong process.
Information is broken up into smaller, related sets. Which makes it easier to maintain and find. Changes can be made at the description level, giving control over the smallest content changes.
Everything is inter-related; links, docs, external data, permissions. It stops siloed behaviour where people are forced to duplicate the document because they can’t find it.
Easy to search for a single source of truth, no duplication of content. Search function looks inside the document, not just the title or the tags.
So why is this important and why should I care?
Imagine you have a new staff member and you need to train them. The risk is that they are referencing out-of-date training materials and following the wrong process. And it can take days for them to wade through documents that are unrelated to their role or situation.
Centro ASSIST is an online software platform for hosting an organisation’s own policies, processes, forms, templates and registers (or ready-made compliant content):
in one location
accessed from anywhere
step-by-step visual guidance
shared with those that need it
Outsource your policies and processes to Centro ASSIST and let us manage your compliance quality system. Hundreds of providers are now trusting us to maintain and meet the QSF for their staff and businesses.