Policy management matters – exploring the role of policy management software

Sword GRC Blog

Policy management matters – exploring the role of policy management software

Policies are fundamental to an organization’s GRC. Yet without an effective information technology architecture, managing policies effectively – crucially to provide a framework for governance, to identify and address risk, and to define compliance – can be a minefield.

In this blog post, we investigate how policy management software puts paid to the haphazard approach that can leave organizations so exposed to corporate liability, and instead, underpins a co-ordinated strategy for policy development, maintenance, communication, attestation, and training. In short, how policy management software helps drive policy management best practice.

Policy management software – supporting the policy management lifecycle

There’s no disputing that policies are important. According to Michael Rasmussen, GRC20/20, an internationally recognized pundit on governance, risk management, and compliance:

‘Policies must be in place so the organization can:

  • Reliably achieve objectives
  • Manage and control uncertainty
  • Safeguard the workplace
  • Protect the organization from unnecessary risk
  • Ensure consistent operations
  • Uphold ethical values
  • Address compliance obligations
  • Defend the organization should it land in turbulent legal and regulatory waters*

Yet typically, organizations fail to centralize policy and procedure documents and provide universal access to them. Policy files are often out of date, inconsistent, and dispersed throughout file shares, local hard drives, or individuals’ devices. Not only does this cause confusion for employees who may be working from old policy documents, that worryingly may fail to reference current standards or latest regulations, but it leads to departments pulling in different policy directions. Moreover, ‘rogue’ policies – documents that can be authored by anyone and termed policies – can easily get into circulation. Since policies establish a duty of care, this leaves organizations considerably vulnerable to exposure and liability.

With ever-changing regulations and legislation, it’s not enough these days to simply make policies accessible. The policies themselves must be kept up-to-date should be presented in a standardised format for greater clarity and understanding, and they must reflect current legal, regulatory, or contractual requirements. Compliance must be demonstrable to auditors, regulators, and other stakeholders.

An organization should also be able to prove receipt, affirmation, and understanding of policies amongst its workforce.  Any policy exemptions, issues, or investigations should be documented and managed as without such diligence, an organization cannot identify where a policy may be falling short and address the issue.

Without policy management software, it’s almost impossible for an organization to be able to show:

  • what version of a policy is in effect
  • how it has been communicated
  • who has read it and has been trained on it
  • who attested it
  • any exemptions
  • how any policy violation is monitored or any resolution managed

… all of which would be required in the event of a corporate lawsuit, and moreover, should be maintained in order to govern with integrity.

As legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements across different sectors continue to evolve, the imperative is for organizations to match the pace of policy change, ensure compliance and limit liability wherever possible.

Policy management software – the benefits of an agile solution, at-a-glance

A proven policy management software solution makes it easy to manage policy lifecycle processes and policy content. It brings a watertight approach to authoring information, approving, maintaining, and communicating policies organization-wide.

Choose policy management software, such as Sword Policy Manager, and your organization can look forward to:

  • Policy visibility through centralization – all policy information and contained in one place
  • Increased control, collaboration, transparency around policies
  • A system of record and an audit trail of interactions and exceptions
  • An alternative to manual policy management processes with their inherent pitfalls
  • Enhanced policy management via an intuitive, collaborative, fully auditable, and controlled platform
  • Greater efficiencies in time through automated tasks, workflow, and policy reporting
  • Consistency and accuracy of policy information
  • Greater accountability with full audit trails

Why not see how purpose-built policy management software can safeguard your organization from liability whilst meeting your GRC objectives?

Learn more about Sword Policy Manager or book a demo.

* Source: Are Your Policies a Mess? A Maze of Confusion? | GRC 20/20 Research, LLC