Understanding the 7 stages of the policy lifecycle (and how it relates to your technology)
The best way to think about your policy management technology? Through the lens of the policy lifecycle.
Today, companies must not only comply with the state laws where they are headquartered, but must also extend that compliance to every state where they have remote employees. And did you know that some cities also have their own regulations with which companies must comply?
At a time when remote teams span the globe and cities, states, and countries keep creating and updating regulations with a new kind of ferocity, businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in ensuring compliance. Whether you’re a global corporation or a growing startup, it’s important to take a closer look at how you’re keeping your policies relevant and accurate in our increasingly complex environment – and going back to the basics can help.
A quick refresher: what is the policy lifecycle?
The policy lifecycle is the end-to-end process through which a new policy is implemented and maintained within an organization. It is traditionally understood in 4-5 stages, including some variation of creation, communication, management, and maintenance.
But when it comes to bringing technology solutions into the fold to help automate and streamline your policy management, it helps to take a more granular look at the policy lifecycle. Where do policy review and attestation fall in the process, for example, and where can technology step in to help organizations mitigate risk, optimize efficiency, and streamline compliance?
The 7 stages of the policy lifecycle (and how it relates to your technology)
For many, the best way to think about technology and its requirements is to get to the meat of your policy lifecycle. What needs to happen in order for your company to monitor, manage, update and proliferate internal and external policies? And how can tech support, streamline, and optimize these moments? You can approach this review using the seven stages of the policy lifecycle:
Stage One: Policy Development and Collaboration
Engage relevant stakeholders, such as legal, HR, and other pertinent parties in the process of crafting policies. Collaboratively develop policies that align with organizational needs and legal requirements.
Tech Translation: Does your policy management software facilitate collaboration among stakeholders and streamline the policy development process?
Stage Two: Stakeholder Review
Facilitate comprehensive reviews of newly developed policies by different stakeholders.
Tech Translation: Does your software assist in gathering and consolidating feedback from diverse stakeholders during the policy review process?
Stage Three: Policy Review and Revision:
Regularly review policies, either on an annual basis or in response to recent updates in laws or regulations. This ongoing process ensures that policies remain current and effective.
Tech Translation: Does your policy management software help you track policy review schedules and ensure timely updates?
Stage Four: Publication and Distribution
Effectively communicate policies to the appropriate audience within the organization.
Tech Translation: Has your policy management platform simplified the distribution of policies to employees and stakeholders while ensuring everyone receives the most current versions?
Stage Five: Attestation and Acknowledgment
Establish a mechanism for employees to acknowledge policy changes. Define and automate a clear timeframe for employees to attest to the modifications, ensuring that the attestation process is efficient.
Tech Translation: Does your policy management system automate and streamline the process of collecting employee attestations for policy changes?
Stage Six: Knowledge Assessment
Gauge the level of understanding among employees regarding the HR policies they have acknowledged. Implement measures to assess comprehension and address any gaps through training or clarification.
Tech Translation: Does your policy management software help in automatically assessing employee comprehension of policies and facilitate targeted training when needed?
Stage Seven: Reporting and Auditing
Create a system for tracking policy adherence and acknowledgment. Regularly generate reports to monitor compliance levels and conduct audits to ensure that policies are being followed consistently across the organization.
Tech Translation: Does your technology assist in automatically tracking policy compliance, generating compliance reports, and simplifying the audit process to ensure adherence?
These initial questions are useful for orienting your organization to what your policy management system could – and should – be doing. But there are more specific questions to ask, too. Version control, for example, is critical in policy management software: it prevents employees from getting mixed up with older, out-of-date policies, ensuring that when a new policy is attested to, it cannot get confused with an older one. To learn more about how to leverage technology to get ahead – and stay ahead – with compliance, check out this white paper. (While it explores HR policies in particular, it includes a great overview of how to evaluate your policy management software overall – and features a checklist to save you time!).
Interested in more about this use case?
Check out our Case Study: Mitratech x Haufe Group, and learn how a leading provider of digital workplace solutions and services found success leveraging Mitratech’s GRC platform to effectively communicate relevant guidelines and promote awareness amongst employees.
At Mitratech, we understand policy management tools can fall short when it comes to addressing certain issues – exceptions and disclosures, in particular. Learn how pairing workflow automation with policy management can solve these problems and drive greater effectiveness and efficiency in your compliance efforts.