Your Policy Management Solution Needs Ease of Ongoing Development

Natalie FitzHugh |

Welcome to the final installment in this six-part series, where we’ve been exploring ease of use as a key criterion when choosing a Policy Management solution.

So far, we’ve looked at ease of use for employees and policy owners, ease of training, and ease of deployment. In this final article, we’ll explore the importance of having a solution that facilitates simple ongoing development.

Ongoing development can be defined as “continually moving forward” and when it comes to software I think this is made up of a number of different elements, including:

  • The ability to be self-sufficient when changes need to be made
  • Having access to helpful resources
  • Being able to exchange ideas with other companies using the solution
  • The ability to suggest product enhancements
  • Ease of calling upon the vendor when appropriate

Let’s drill down into each of these in somewhat more detail.

Self-sufficiency:

I’ve touched on this in my previous blogs, particularly in the one around ease of training. Once you have been trained in the solution, you should feel comfortable that you have the skills and knowledge to be able to maintain and expand the solution yourselves.

Let’s say, for example, you take on another location that has its own set of policies and review processes. You don’t want to have to involve the vendor to help in adding these policies to your solution, or to develop the appropriate process flows. The training you received during the solution implementation means you should be confident in adding these policies to the appropriate area of the library and setting up the necessary workflows to ensure the policies are reviewed following the correct process.

Resources:

When choosing a policy management solution, the vendor needs to explain what they provide in terms of online resources in case of any queries. Do they have an online portal where you can search knowledge base articles and view how-to videos? It’s important that you have access to resources which provide answers to queries. Also, what does their support structure look like? It’s always useful if the vendor uses a portal for managing support cases, so you can provide updates and easily view progress.

Ideas exchange:

It’s always important to ask how the vendor puts you in touch with their other customers so you can exchange ideas. That’s because it’s very useful to find out how customers are using the product, what best practices they have developed, and hear any lessons learnt.

You should definitely find out about user groups and how the vendor runs these. It’s great to be in the same room as other like-minded people, discussing ideas and letting the vendor talk to you about the direction that the solution is going in.

Enhancements:

How does the vendor find out which changes a customer would like incorporated into the solution? Alongside regular account reviews, I really like providing users with an ideas portal, where you can make your own suggestions about enhancements you would like to see to the product, but also see what other customers have suggested. Maybe you see an idea that you really like the sound of, so the portal may give you the ability to vote for it, increasing its visibility to the vendor. The vendor should also explain how these suggestions are brought into their roadmap.

Vendor engagement:

At some point, you might need to ask your vendor to provide additional assistance; you just need to make sure these are valid requests, and not something that you should be able to manage yourself. Engaging with the vendor should be a simple process, probably through the account management route, and during implementation you should understand how the vendor can support you, what additional costs might be involved, and timescales for providing resources.

Ease of use is essential to any good Policy Management solution

In my opinion? The ongoing development and support of a Policy Management solution is just as important as the initial reasons why you choose a particular system. You need a vendor who can support you on your journey with their solution by providing the appropriate training during the implementation and the necessary resources to help you be successful as you roll the software out across your organisation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog series, and that it’s given you food for thought if you’re contemplating adoption of a Policy Management solution.  In the end, the product ought to make your work much easier, removing obstacles and headaches, and its own ease of use is critical in that!