General Data Protection Regulation – will this affect online Help?

Yesterday, I saw a presentation by Hazel Southwell on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be implemented on the 25th May 2018. The impact in its data privacy and protection rules seem likely to affect pretty much every website, with the threat of hefty fines for those that do not comply.

Organisations providing personalised Help content, by storing information in cookies or monitoring the behaviour of users living in the EU by tracking their digital activities, will need to comply with the GDPR regulations. In particular:

  • Businesses will have to adopt governance and accountability standards and meet their data privacy obligations.
  • Clear and affirmative consent to the processing of private data must be provided, and the relevant information must be laid out in simple terms.
  • Organisations need to consider the risks of transferring data (such as the storing of cookies or IP addresses) to countries outside of the EU.

One solution is to require users to log in to see information. However, this may be an unpopular and impractical solution for many users.

Cherryleaf’s policies and procedures writing – Next course 24th November 2015

Cherryleaf’s first public policies and procedures writing course will be held on the 24th November 2015, at our training centre in central London (SW7).

Discover how to create clear and effective policies and procedures. Cherryleaf’s policies and procedures course teaches your staff how to write clear and effective policies and procedures, in a straightforward and efficient way. This course is for anyone involved in writing or editing policies and procedures.

Places are limited to a maximum of 10 delegates.


How can growing businesses get past the 5 and 10 employee barriers?

According to Dr Alan Rae, the number of companies in the UK that go from employing fewer than 10 to more than 10 in a year is only about 1600.

The reason, he explains, is that each new person hired adds another layer of relationships. By the time you’re up to about 12 or 13 staff, people issues gobble up all the owners’ time. The result is senior management don’t have the time to think about strategy.

A growing business that wants to grow will need to resolve this issue early on, probably when it hits the 4-6 employee mark. This is the really point when you need to start formalising and documenting your systems, processes and procedures.

You don’t want to lose the agility that’s made the business successful, so how can you keep agile and formalise the business?

One approach is to document your processes and procedures in a way that’s as agile and nimble as your business:

  • Use  professional business writers (such as Cherryleaf) who can capture critical (but missing) information and improve existing content. You can use them to  take your “brain dumps”, talk to others, look at what documents exist, and turn that into information that communicates your message clearly and simply.
  • Use software that makes it straightforward to both get to the information that staff need and keep it up to date. There’s software you can use that costs as little as $10/year.
  • Embed the information into the systems that staff use, so it’s always to hand.

With measures like these in place, you’re more likely to have a scalable business with fewer growing pains.

See also

Webinar  21 November 2012 –  Writing policies and procedures: The most common issues, and how to fix them

We will be hosting a free 60 minute webinar called “Writing policies and procedures: The most common issues, and how to fix them” on Wednesday 21st November.

Registration is now open Register Here

Places are limited.

Communicating the right information in business

By guest blogger Malcolm Tullett

Health and safety is built around good practice. There are systems for getting things done and processes for carrying out the tasks required to make the organisation successful. The problems occur when the paperwork outweighs the operator’s willingness to read and digest it!

Standard practice in most organisations is that every time something new occurs policies must be developed and manuals need to be written in order to drive the process.

The senior management team have access to this weight of knowledge, but the front end workers either don’t want to (and don’t) read all that information or they’re forced to read it and don’t fully understand it. Worse still, they do their job in spite of, rather than because of, the bureaucracy that sits above them.

So the issue is how do you get people to do things right without expecting them to read manuals (which they probably won’t – and won’t remember) and still create a safe working environment? A folder of information may exist, but it doesn’t really help the operatives to know the specific gravity or flammability level of any substance they have to handle.

Rewriting the legislation as a ‘policy’ is unnecessary – regulations are about systems, not strategies.

First a strategy needs to be developed to form the base from which the systems and processes will be developed.

Then a system needs to be created and not by finding one that exists elsewhere and copying it. If you want a system to work you need to look at the current practices within the organisation in relation to specific regulations and identifying whether they are already compliant, need a bit of tweaking to meet the regulations or need to start from scratch.

For example: those people who handle hazardous substances need to know how to handle them safely and the consequences of not doing so. A card with the substance instructions for use is enough. It may be a list or a flow chart and may have specific warnings e.g. flammable, carcinogenic, irritant, but first and foremost should be simple, straightforward and practical.

Operatives don’t need the strategic documents, a simple basic process with critical information is all that is needed at the operational level.

The system should accommodate how your organisation operates – not be ‘one-size-fits-all’. Every process needs examination and existing processes may need tweaking to meet the regulations. However, there may be opportunities to ask ’do we need this material or could we use something better and safer?’

The operative needs both the simplicity of process and also to understand the impact of getting it wrong. This enables them to make intelligent decisions when things don’t go according to plan.

And the point of all this is that:

  • Senior management need to develop clear policies;
  • Supervisory levels need the practical information the underpins the systems and processes,
  • But the operatives simply need to know what exactly needs to be done, how and why.