Organizations create policies to govern operational and business aspects, such as ensuring data protection, monitoring the use of company assets, and meeting compliance requirements. But if the policies are managed manually, it's difficult to ensure employee access, proper documentation, and, more importantly, usage of the most up-to-date version.
Policy management software addresses these pain points. It helps users create, review, approve, and store policies according to the established workflow. Policy management tools also allow you to distribute or share policies with the relevant employees.
While policy management software may seem like an additional cost, it helps you ensure regulatory compliance and respond more quickly to client escalations or security breaches, thereby indirectly adding value to your bottom line.
What is policy management software?
Policy management software is a tool that helps users organize and manage all their policy and procedure documents centrally.
This type of software facilitates collaboration between legal and other teams on creating, editing, and maintaining policy and procedure documents. It also allows employees to digitally attest that they have read and understood the policies.
Policy management tools also offer security features such as access controls and administrator privileges to restrict unauthorized users from editing, reviewing, or approving policies.
Policy review schedule in ProcessUnity (Source)
Common features of policy management software
In this section, we discuss key features to look out for when shopping for a policy management solution.
||Enables users to create, edit, review, and approve policies directly on the tool using automated workflows.
||Enables users to quickly find the policy document they need by typing in file names or parts of metadata in the search bar.
||Alerts administrators through email, pop-up messages, or text reminders when policies are due for review or when someone has reviewed or modified a policy.
||Allows users to digitally confirm (such as with e-signatures) that they have read and understood a policy.
||Allows administrators to limit user access to specific policies, set documents as read-only, and restrict sharing or printing of policy documents.
||Tracks changes made to a document, capturing details of who made an update, and stores different versions of the document with timestamps.
||Buckets policies into various broad categories, such as HR policies or ethics policies, using metadata tags to make the search easier.
||Allows users to mark specific policies for quick and easy referencing.
What type of buyer are you?
While the utility of policy management across industries and business sizes is subjective, there are some businesses that will find policy management software indispensable. We discuss them here.
Businesses in heavily regulated industries: Certain sectors, such as healthcare, telecommunications, and financial services, are more heavily regulated than others. Policy management software can help organizations in such sectors define and organize their policies to meet industry mandates.
Large businesses: The larger the scale and scope of operations, the more detailed are the policies and procedures. In such cases, the centrality of document storage and distribution can be vital to streamline operations and avoid noncompliance.
Benefits of policy management software
Here are some of the most notable benefits of policy management system:
- Minimizes risk across your organization and enhances compliance: You can minimize security risks and react to breaches more quickly if your employees know the policies they need to follow in different scenarios. Policy management software provides a central repository for storing all policy documents and ensures that relevant users can access them quickly when needed.
- Improves accountability: Audit trails and version histories allow you to track who updated, reviewed, or approved a policy. Additionally, digital attestation allows you to ensure that your employees have read and understood the policies, making them accountable for any noncompliance.
- Automates policy management workflow and saves time: Policy management systems automatically send notifications to various stakeholders and helps to eliminate duplicate efforts in policy creation, review, and editing. They also eliminate the requirement of printing physical copies of the policies for approval or distribution.
Key considerations when buying policy management software
Along with deciding the features you need in a policy management software solution, it's also important to consider the below parameters.
- Integrations with office productivity tools: Policy management software that integrates with software such as SharePoint, Office365, or Dropbox helps users seamlessly create, review, and approve policies from within those office productivity tools. Integrating with communication tools such as Microsoft Outlook or Slack can aid in the sharing of the policy documents. It should also integrate with your HR tools; governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) system; and more.
- Cloud-based vs. on-premise: You must decide whether you're more comfortable storing your policy documents in third-party cloud apps or on-premise servers. Cloud-based policy management software allows employees to access the policy documents from anywhere using the internet, is easily scalable, and receives regular updates and upgrades from the vendor. On the other hand, on-premise solutions may suit you better if your organization is not inclined to storing sensitive policy documents on a third-party cloud.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.