Writing Effective Policies     and Procedures               By Stephen Page              MBA, PMP, CRM, CFC   Author of “P...
Handouts1.   Presentation - PPT Slides2.   40-Step Action Plan- Word DOC3.   Writing Format - Word DOC4.   Sample Travel P...
Biography   34+ years of experience   MBA, PMP, CRM, CSQE, CFC, CQA   4 Best-selling books; author since 1984;    sold ...
Deliverables   Two hours? Perhaps two days?   What can be done in 2 hours?    • Principles of writing policies and proce...
Why Write        Policies and Procedures?   Public Companies    • Answer is easy...to satisfy various laws including SOX,...
MORE Reasons for    Writing Policies and Procedures   Help make instructions and guidelines definite and help in    the i...
Examining the TITLE           of this Presentation    “Writing Effective Policies and Procedures”Dissection of Key Words ...
WRITING                 Effective Policies and Procedures   What “Writing” IS?                      What “Writing” ISN’T...
Qualifications of a Good Writer   Good Choices                        Not So Good Choices     • Someone with writing and...
Writer’s “Ultimate” Role   Identify policy/procedure topics   Conduct research   Write the first draft and getting it r...
Writing    EFFECTIVE                    Policies and Procedures   Effective Writing?              Not Effective?    • En...
Writing Effective             Policies and Procedures                                  (Definitions)   Policies:         ...
A Framework for            Writing Effective        Policies and Procedures   I have prepared a 40-Step Action Plan to he...
HIGHLIGHTS of 40-Step Plan                           (see Handout)1.   Management shows commitment to policies and procedu...
Establishing a             Policy/Procedure Framework              BEGINS with 5 Agreements   AGREE on the importance of ...
18 Decisions            Before Writing SHOULD Start1.    What’s the justification?      11.   Who reviews drafts?2.    Who...
Importance of the               Writing Format                    (FIRST AGREEMENT)   Heart of a policies and procedures ...
Writing Format            SECTION HEADINGS                     (See Writing Format Handout)   Header – Logo, title, numbe...
BUT FIRST…We Must Select which STYLE of    Writing Format to Use   Selections:    • One (1) Writing Format that combines ...
One Writing Format           (See Handout of Section Headings and Explanations)             (See Sample Travel Policy writ...
Two Writing Formats   Option 1: Two Writing Formats:    • One distinct writing format for policy      documents    • A se...
Desktop Instructions              Writing Format   Writing Format for single processes such    as:    • How to fill out a...
Basic 7 Section Headings        Explained       (All Formats use a         combination of        these headings)     (Refe...
Header Information         (All Writing Formats have Header,                or Title, information)   Logo   Title   P/P...
1.0 Purpose               Section Heading   Contains introductory paragraph about the    objectives and reasons for writi...
2.0 Scope              Section Heading   Lists the audience or targeted users or    customers   Scope can also include a...
3.0 Policy                  Section Heading   Describes objectives, strategies, goals, culture, vision,    mission, and o...
Policy Statement                   Examples   Ensure a timely and comprehensive review of all    general ledger accounts ...
4.0 Definitions                  Section Heading   Defines objects or terms like acronyms, abbreviations, forms,    repor...
5.0 Responsibilities                Section Heading   Summary of roles and responsibilities of the individuals or    grou...
6.0 Procedures                  Section Heading   The Procedures section heading describes the rules,    regulations, act...
7.0 Revision History               Section Heading   Contains the history of the document from the first release    to th...
Optional                   Documentation   Optional documentation can be added to any policy or    procedure document    ...
Optional               Section Headings   The “Background” section heading is a common    addition. Background might expl...
Quick Ways to          Write Policies and Procedures              from Canned Content   Two Methods:     1.   Quickest......
AND THERE IS MORE...   Now that the policy/procedure    document has been written,    reviewed, approved, published, and ...
Communications        are a key to policy/procedure effectiveness   Communications are key to policy/procedure implementa...
Training           is key to policy/procedure effectiveness   Training is defined as to make prepared, to teach to be    ...
Where We Are Now   We have learned:    • Writing Effective Policies and Procedures is NOT as      simple as borrowing con...
Techniques to              Ensure Success   Management commitment to write policies and    procedures   Qualified writer...
Lessons Learned1.   Select a writing format and stick with it2.   Write a “Procedure on Procedures” and stick with your   ...
4-Book Policy/Procedure Set                      SALE              to Conference Attendees   Buy the 4-book set by Octobe...
Questions & Answers              43
THANK YOU            44
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  1. 1. Writing Effective Policies and Procedures By Stephen Page MBA, PMP, CRM, CFC Author of “Policies and Procedures” Books Discounts for Conference Attendees http://www.companymanuals.com/navref.htm 1
  2. 2. Handouts1. Presentation - PPT Slides2. 40-Step Action Plan- Word DOC3. Writing Format - Word DOC4. Sample Travel Policy & Procedure – Word DOC 2
  3. 3. Biography 34+ years of experience MBA, PMP, CRM, CSQE, CFC, CQA 4 Best-selling books; author since 1984; sold 1000’s of books in more than 90 countries Worked in major and small companies Projects: ISO 9000, TQM, Six Sigma, Value Engineering, Lean Improvement Projects, CMMI EMAIL: stevebpage@gmail.com for free advice any time 3
  4. 4. Deliverables Two hours? Perhaps two days? What can be done in 2 hours? • Principles of writing policies and procedures • Qualifications of a policies and procedures writer • Action items for creating a framework for writing effective policies and procedures  Elements of a policies and procedures system  Selecting a writer for policies and procedures  18 decisions to make before writing the first word  Writing format discussion and development  Methods for quickly adding content • Lessons learned 4
  5. 5. Why Write Policies and Procedures? Public Companies • Answer is easy...to satisfy various laws including SOX, HIPPA, and other federal, state, and local laws Private Companies • Answer is not as easy...follow similar laws as public companies and for practices like ISO Quality Standards Not-for-Profit Companies • Answer is easy...to satisfy two SOX requirements and various other federal, state, and local laws and regulations as well as overseers including FASB, SAS,IRS, VA, and granting agencies. • Additionally, the new IRS Form 990 asks whether nonprofits have certain policies relating to governance. You don’t want to answer “no” • Also, nonprofits that administer federal grants must follow certain OMB Circulars and regulations 5
  6. 6. MORE Reasons for Writing Policies and Procedures Help make instructions and guidelines definite and help in the interpretation of policies and procedures Provide quick settlement of misunderstandings Help reduce the range of individual decisions and discourage management by exception Cover recurring situations such that managers can begin to make decisions that will be consistent every time Set boundaries for jobs so that each employee knows in advance what response he or she will get from others when taking actions, making decisions, and giving responses Provide protection in the event of an audit or lawsuit 6
  7. 7. Examining the TITLE of this Presentation “Writing Effective Policies and Procedures”Dissection of Key Words WRITING EFFECTIVE POLICIES and PROCEDURES 7
  8. 8. WRITING Effective Policies and Procedures What “Writing” IS?  What “Writing” ISN’T? • Writing policies and procedures • Writing content in a vacuum is more than typing words on without involving the users and a page; it involves research, customers in the writing and writing a draft, reviews, reviewing processes approvals, publishing, • Buying canned content, distributing, communications, attaching a logo, and calling it training, maintenance, your own without sanitizing it improvements, and revisions to assure it aligns with our • Writing refers to the writer. environment, culture, and • A writer is someone who resources understands how to gather the • Expecting non-writers to write information, document a high-quality policies and process, present the words in a procedures that people will logical fashion, and publish and understand and follow (a writer train the audience to ensure the of business letters does not content is understood make a good policies and • Also, writing “to me” means procedures writer) to write consistently using a consistent writing format and writing style 8
  9. 9. Qualifications of a Good Writer Good Choices  Not So Good Choices • Someone with writing and • Individuals who write editing skills who has the business letters and time and mobility to correspondence but have interview users and never (or infrequently) customers written policies or • Someone who has worked procedures on process improvement • Individuals who have the projects knowledge but don’t have • Someone with excellent the time organizational skills and a • Individuals that take passion to write content from others and documents that can be format it in their own style understood by the but don’t interview users targeted audience to ensure the content is • Analysts, Subject Matter correct Experts, Leads, Supervisors, and some Managers 9
  10. 10. Writer’s “Ultimate” Role Identify policy/procedure topics Conduct research Write the first draft and getting it reviewed and revised Obtain approvals, publish, and distribute documents Issue communications and conduct training Analyze documents for improvements and make revisions And the cycle continues...from writing to revising to writing to revisions... 10
  11. 11. Writing EFFECTIVE Policies and Procedures Effective Writing?  Not Effective? • End result: Users can • Users ignore policies and understand and apply the procedures for a variety of policy/procedure content to reasons including: their work processes  Author is not a credible source • Users have clear job  Poor or sloppy writing responsibilities and know  Grammatical and spelling what’s expected of them, mistakes without guessing  Complex or wordy content • Users can make better  Unclear purpose or title decisions when they know  Approver of policy/procedure is not known to them or doesn’t that the policy/procedure have the right authority content will not change from  Communications and training one day to the next efforts are lacking or weak • Policies and procedures are  Documents conflict with one consistent, accurate, and another reliable from one document  Writing format is different from to the next one document to the next  Policies/procedures change every other week 11
  12. 12. Writing Effective Policies and Procedures (Definitions) Policies:  Procedures: • Describe the “What,” the • Describe the “How” and are “Who,” and the “Why” generally methods by which • Are a predetermined course policies are accomplished. of action established as a • Are a combination of one guide toward accepted or more business business strategies and processes objectives • Identify the people, places, • In a nutshell, “policies are processes, forms, and guidelines dictated by actions necessary to carry executives and/or extracted out one or more policies or from regulations” to support or influence other • NOTE: Other policy types procedures could include public policies • NOTE: Procedures that or institutional policies (not address a single process covered here) such as how to complete a form or cash a check are often referred to as “Desktop Instructions” or “Work Instructions” 12
  13. 13. A Framework for Writing Effective Policies and Procedures I have prepared a 40-Step Action Plan to help you understand how a policies and procedures department can be set up and how to process documents (refer to handout for 40 Steps) The next slide contains HIGHLIGHTS of the 40- Step Action Plan 13
  14. 14. HIGHLIGHTS of 40-Step Plan (see Handout)1. Management shows commitment to policies and procedures by authorizing the policy/procedure function2. Person/team is assigned to write/manage policies and procedures from research to publishing to revisions3. Topics are identified and researched4. Drafts are written in a standard writing format5. Drafts are reviewed by users and management6. Drafts are approved and published7. Published documents are communicated and trained8. Published documents are revisited to study possible improvements and cost savings9. Published documents are subjected to a revision process that starts at #3 and the whole “topic-to-revision-process” becomes a continuous cycle 14
  15. 15. Establishing a Policy/Procedure Framework BEGINS with 5 Agreements AGREE on the importance of a writing format and agree on which writing format to use in which situation AGREE on the use of a single writing format for policies and procedures or two writing formats for policy and procedure documents; and one desktop instruction format AGREE on communications media to be deployed AGREE on training methods to be utilized and repeated AGREE to write a “Procedure on Procedures” to capture the essentials of writing policies and procedures (I call these essentials the “The 18 Decisions” – see next slide) 15
  16. 16. 18 Decisions Before Writing SHOULD Start1. What’s the justification? 11. Who reviews drafts?2. Who authorizes? 12. Who approves drafts?3. Who manages function? 13. Who distributes and4. Who writes policies and publishes documents? procedures? 14. Who communicates?5. Do you deploy printed 15. Who trains? and/or online manuals? 16. Who audits?6. Do you use 1 writing format, 17. Who monitors to ensure 2 writing formats; and current regulations are desktop instruction formats taken into consideration?7. What’s your document 18. Who recommends numbering system? improvements?8. Where does content come from?9. What’s the layout of your writing format?10. Are forms designed to align with policy and procedure content? 16
  17. 17. Importance of the Writing Format (FIRST AGREEMENT) Heart of a policies and procedures system A writing format is a way to: • Present your content in a logical and easy-to-read sequence that makes sense to the targeted audience. • Present enough information about your content that helps the audience understand the importance of your policy or procedure topic. • Ensure consistency from document to document for both the policy and procedure documents. A writing format contains a specific number of section headings and never changes after the writing format is approved for use 17
  18. 18. Writing Format SECTION HEADINGS (See Writing Format Handout) Header – Logo, title, number, dates, approvals 1.0 Purpose 2.0 Scope 3.0 Policy 4.0 Definitions 5.0 Responsibilities 6.0 Procedures 7.0 Revision History Optional documentation (appendices can be used as a way to include flow charts, diagrams, and other material) Adding Section Headings • Possible additions include “Background,” “References,” “Document Approvals,” or “Disciplinary Actions”. If you add more headings, integrate them into the writing format and stick with that number of section headings • Never deviate for any reason: Consistency is King 18
  19. 19. BUT FIRST…We Must Select which STYLE of Writing Format to Use Selections: • One (1) Writing Format that combines policy and procedure elements • Two (2) Distinct Writing Formats:  One (1) for a Policy Document  One (1) for a Procedure Document to cover two or more business processes • One (1) “Desktop Instructions” Writing Format for single business processes 19
  20. 20. One Writing Format (See Handout of Section Headings and Explanations) (See Sample Travel Policy written in this Format) Combines policy and procedure elements into a single writing format WHY? • Easy fill-in of content using the seven section headings of my copyrighted writing format • Reduces redundancies, duplication, and inconsistencies when two documents cover the same, or similar, subject • Eases reading by the targeted audience by:  Providing a logical sequence of section headings starting with “Purpose”...and ending with “Revision History”  Not asking the reader to search out two documents that cover the same, or similar, subject(s)  Eliminating redundancy of two documents published on similar subjects 20
  21. 21. Two Writing Formats Option 1: Two Writing Formats: • One distinct writing format for policy documents • A second distinct writing format for procedure documents that address two or more business processes Option 2: You can use the same seven (7) section heading Writing Format (Slide 18) for each document type except: • Write “Not Applicable” in the PROCEDURES Section for POLICY Documents • Write “Not Applicable” in the Policy Section for PROCEDURES Documents 21
  22. 22. Desktop Instructions Writing Format Writing Format for single processes such as: • How to fill out a “Travel Request” form • How to request “Petty Cash” WRITING FORMAT Section Headings (template not shown): 1.0 Purpose 2.0 Activities (Step-by-step instructions) 3.0 Change History 4.0 Document Approvals 22
  23. 23. Basic 7 Section Headings Explained (All Formats use a combination of these headings) (Refer to Handout) 23
  24. 24. Header Information (All Writing Formats have Header, or Title, information) Logo Title P/P Number Effective Date Revision Letter or Number Approvals Page Numbers 24
  25. 25. 1.0 Purpose Section Heading Contains introductory paragraph about the objectives and reasons for writing the document Maximum of three (3) sentences Can begin with, “This procedure (or this policy or this document) contains guidelines for …” Be careful: • Don’t use cryptic words or acronyms that immediately confuses the reader • Don’t use subheadings or bullets • Don’t use fragmented sentences 25
  26. 26. 2.0 Scope Section Heading Lists the audience or targeted users or customers Scope can also include an exclusion statement like, “does not include accounting personnel” Can be a fragmented sentence Be careful: • Don’t state, “All employees” when the document actually targets two or more areas • Don’t write complicated inclusion and exclusion sections when a few simple words will suffice 26
  27. 27. 3.0 Policy Section Heading Describes objectives, strategies, goals, culture, vision, mission, and other guiding principles for the topic stated in “TITLE” and “PURPOSE” Can be a single paragraph, several sentences, and sometimes several pages Opening sentence might say: “The policy of XYZ company is to: (Follow with statements or indented sentences)” (see sample policy statements on next slide) Be careful: • Don’t omit the “Policy” section heading when you don’t think there are any policy statements surrounding procedures (there is always a policy that guides a procedure, always) • Writing policy statements that don’t support the main focus of the “Purpose” section heading or the “Title” of the document • Using specific procedural statements instead of general policy statements 27
  28. 28. Policy Statement Examples Ensure a timely and comprehensive review of all general ledger accounts to ensure accurate representation of the company’s financial statements Ensure all transactions are signed by at least three signatures Ensure all physical inventory is periodically counted and reviewed on a frequent basis and under a common set of procedures and controls Ensure proper control procedures are followed for all capital asset acquisitions, transfers, and dispositions in order to provide internal control of capital equipment and to assist in reporting 28
  29. 29. 4.0 Definitions Section Heading Defines objects or terms like acronyms, abbreviations, forms, reports, flow charts, models, words infrequently used, or technical jargon Don’t assume your audience has the same vocabulary as you Example: Purchase Requisition (PR) Form No. 1000 – Electronic form used to capture a request to purchase all products and services with a value of less than $5,000.00. Click on the link to open “Forms Catalogue” Example: COD – Collect on Delivery, not Cash on Delivery Be Careful: • Never omit a section heading • Not to leave this section blank: All policies and procedures have definitions of some sort • Failing to define content in this section that is later placed in the appendices as an exhibit or reference pointer 29
  30. 30. 5.0 Responsibilities Section Heading Summary of roles and responsibilities of the individuals or groups that perform actions in a policy or procedure The “Responsibilities” section often parallels the flow of the “Procedures” section, where applicable The responsibility section typically has at least two sentences: • “The [Title of Highest Approver] shall ensure compliance to this policy (or procedure)” • “Employees are required to…” Be Careful: • There must be a “compliance” statement in every policy or procedure document • Don’t write procedural statements in this section; rather keep to the responsibilities of the roles stated • Don’t write actual names of persons; instead state only their roles or functions 30
  31. 31. 6.0 Procedures Section Heading The Procedures section heading describes the rules, regulations, activities, timing, place, and personnel necessary to carry out the intent of the procedure and/or support the essence of the policy statements contained within the Policy section heading The Procedures section heading is required for procedure documents but is optional for policy documents Be Careful: • Never omit this section even if there is no content for a policy document • Ensure that the procedural statements support the policy statements • Ensure that the procedural statements follow the work flow 31
  32. 32. 7.0 Revision History Section Heading Contains the history of the document from the first release to the most current. The first release can be shown with a letter “A” or “1” in the “Revision Letter” field in the header information within the Writing Format Complete descriptions can be written in table form or referenced in an attachment Be careful: • Most readers don’t care about this section so don’t spend too much time on the completion of this section heading • Don’t omit descriptions of revisions when changes occur • Don’t forget to increment the revision letter or number when revisions occur 32
  33. 33. Optional Documentation Optional documentation can be added to any policy or procedure document • One method is to define the documentation (like a flow chart or report) in the “Definitions” section and refer to an appendix where the document has been included • Another method is to hyperlink a reference for electronic policies and procedures (opens in its own window) • In the case of a form, define it in the “Definitions” section, and either add a hyperlink to the template or in the case of paper forms, give directions on where to find the form (like a supply cabinet) and show a sample image in an appendix Be Careful: • Don’t include an appendix without a reference notation from somewhere in the document or from the “Definitions” section • Don’t include a reference in the “Definitions” section and then fail to include the actual reference document or source either as a hyperlink or as an appendix to the document 33
  34. 34. Optional Section Headings The “Background” section heading is a common addition. Background might explain why the policy or procedure came about in the first place • If you do add the “Background” section heading, insert it after the “Purpose” section heading The “Document Approvals” section heading is a common addition. This section includes all of the signatures required on the document, e.g., owner, author, manager, policy and procedure writer, legal review, Executive Director • If you do include the “Document Approvals” Section Heading, insert it immediately prior to the “Revision History” section heading 34
  35. 35. Quick Ways to Write Policies and Procedures from Canned Content Two Methods: 1. Quickest...but acceptance is difficult: Find or purchase a canned (generic content) policy or procedure you like from a website or book, don’t change a word, add your logo, and call it your own. Unless you adapt content to your culture and people, buy-in is highly unlikely 2. Best Method: Assign at least one writer and/or form a cross-functional team, do research, use canned content for reference purposes only , interview users, brainstorm ideas, write a draft document, get it reviewed and approved, publish it, and communicate and train 35
  36. 36. AND THERE IS MORE... Now that the policy/procedure document has been written, reviewed, approved, published, and distributed, the NEXT STEPS are to: • Communicate and train • Work on improvements for the next revision • Update the document publish the revision • Communicate and train...and so on 36
  37. 37. Communications are a key to policy/procedure effectiveness Communications are key to policy/procedure implementation because it’s a quick way to impart information about policy/procedure content Communication Methods can include: • Distribution of physical or electronic documents • Letters, press releases, newsletters • Paycheck stub or inserts • Posters, bulletin boards, or brochures • Team meetings, town meetings, staff meetings • Email messages or broadcast emails • Intranet news items The KEY is to provide communications in multiple ways to give the reader added ways to understand the material. Keep in mind that the “just once” communications method and plan is not acceptable and plans must be made to communicate regularly to ensure continued understanding on the behalf of the employee and to reduce the tendency to “resist change” 37
  38. 38. Training is key to policy/procedure effectiveness Training is defined as to make prepared, to teach to be proficient, to undergo instruction, or to practice. In business, training is the formal process used to develop in an employee the attitudes, knowledge, and skills an employee needs to make him or her capable of efficient performance (i.e., less time to carry out assignments) Training methods include but are not limited to : • Lectures, workshops, or seminars • Department or staff meetings • On-the-Job Training • Multimedia training and/or computer-based-training • Mentoring and coaching • Other creative training methods The KEY is to train and then to repeat training through on- the-job training and mentoring. Peter Senge from “Dances of Change,” said, “Training is not Learning” 38
  39. 39. Where We Are Now We have learned: • Writing Effective Policies and Procedures is NOT as simple as borrowing content, adding a logo, and calling it your own • Policies and procedures writers don’t just write and edit but they are also responsible for researching, writing, reviewing, approving, publishing, communicating, training, improving, and revising • Incorporating a consistent writing format will:  Help the reader understand content quicker  Ensure consistent and accurate policies and procedures from one document to the next • Most importantly, we have learned that a writer’s job is not over when the document is published...INSTEAD the writer’s job is just beginning…with communications, training, reviews, audits, improvement activities, and revisions 39
  40. 40. Techniques to Ensure Success Management commitment to write policies and procedures Qualified writers---More than just an editor Same writing format template used every time Communications issued in multiple media Training offered in a variety of formats Walk the Talk from management Mentoring and On-The-Job Training Ensuring legal review of all policies/procedures Auditing Annual policy/procedure reviews Adding policy and procedure understanding as a percentage on an employee’s evaluation plan 40
  41. 41. Lessons Learned1. Select a writing format and stick with it2. Write a “Procedure on Procedures” and stick with your decisions as you write policies and procedures3. Designate a policies and procedures writer and give this person the tools, time, and mobility he/she needs to be successful4. Don’t expect to be able to take a canned financial policy or procedure, make a few changes, add a logo, and call it your own if you actually want people to read and apply the content5. Put a policies and procedures writer in charge, follow my advice, and do it right the first time...so that readers might actually read the documents and apply the guidelines to their jobs6. Be proactive, as you are doing today, by listening to me talk, and by attending conferences, and learning tested methods for writing effective policies and procedures 41
  42. 42. 4-Book Policy/Procedure Set SALE to Conference Attendees Buy the 4-book set by October 31, 2008 and receive large discounts: Go to: http://www.companymanuals.com/navref.htm to receive your discounts: • PDF – 4-Book Set - $60.00 • Printed – 4-Book Set - $75.00 plus s/h Reference URL and Email: • http://www.companymanuals.com • Email: stevebpage@gmail.com 42
  43. 43. Questions & Answers 43
  44. 44. THANK YOU 44

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