The case for actively managing policies and procedures
A friend of mine works as an administrator for a school. One of the tasks her team faces every year is updating the school’s policy manual. Each teacher has one; it’s a lever-arch file that documents the policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that they need to observe and adhere to in their daily work.
Annually, the administration team collects all of the manuals, removes the contents, and replaces them with the revised documents to be used for the next academic year. The manuals will then be placed in the teachers’ pigeon-holes, where the teachers will collect them.But how does the head of the school know that the teachers have read the new policies? How does she know that they are implementing of the new policies? How does she know that they understand the new policies? She doesn’t, but the manual has been issued, a box has been ticked, so all is right with the world.
I visited my GP recently. He and his colleagues are required to keep their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG, formerly Primary Care Trust) updated to show which processes and procedures they are current on. This is usually accomplished with a paper note handed to the Practice Manager, who sends an email to the CCG.
But how does the CCG manage the email? Do they simply search the inbox whenever a question arises? Or does someone have the job of transcribing from the regular emails from 20+ practices, and maintaining a list – probably a spreadsheet? And, once again, how does the CCG know that the staff understand the policy or procedure?
If an organisation cannot be certain that its staff know its policies and procedures – basically that its staff knows what to do – then that organisation will be, at best, inefficient. Staff will waste time checking with colleagues to determine correct procedures, or will act incorrectly. At worst, the organisation will be a danger to its patients, customers, pupils, or passengers. Inefficiency and risk are unnecessary expenses that can be minimised by an active approach to policy management.
Active Policy Management enables organisations to:
- Collaboratively develop and revise policies;
- Maintain reading lists of relevant policies for groups of workers;
- Inform workers of new and revised policies in their reading list
- Require staff to read and acknowledge new and revised policies
- Require staff to demonstrate understanding of new and revised policies
- Audit acknowledgement and understanding to identify laggards and those in need of training or coaching
Enterprise content management (ECM) software such as OnBase provides Active Policy Management capabilities like electronic document management (EDM), workflow, reporting, electronic forms, and audit. Customers as diverse as ambulance services, local authorities, and engineering manufacturers use the OnBase policy management capabilities to improve staff efficiency, customer experience and reduce risk.
The current climate in the NHS, combined with rapid evolution of procedures makes it essential that staff is fully cognisant of the policies and procedures they must follow to enable a safe, high quality patient experience. The implementation of Active Policy Management takes them a a step close to the paper-free NHS.