What should go into policies and procedures?

In a previous post, we looked at why organisations need to write policies and procedures. Let’s now look at what should go into policies and procedures.

The policies

Many successful organisations have a compelling vision for the future, which staff work together to achieve. This can be communicated in the organisation’s policies by addressing three key questions that staff and management need to know:

  1. What are we doing? The goals and vision for the future.
  2. Why are we doing this? What’s at stake, and why it matters.
  3. Where do I fit in? What is each person’s role.

To this, we can add how the organisation will make sure the policy is being carried out. This can include measurement and governance (what people must not do, and what to do if things go wrong).

We can also include:

  • What we mean by certain things (the definitions), and
  • When and where this policy must be followed (the scope).

The processes

The policies set the values and underlying philosophy or the organisation. The processes describe what to do in order to make the policies happen.

A process describes the main steps in achieving an objective, from the start to the end. A good way to think about this, and to present the process itself, is as a flowchart, or a series of flowcharts.

The procedures

In addition to knowing where the organisation is going and what it is doing, staff also need to know how to do things. We call these procedures, but some organisations call these tasks.

Procedures are very similar to a recipe. You describe the tools/ingredients, the preparation work (what must happen before you start), and then the steps. Procedures may also need to describe the things that someone mustn’t do.

We can also include what we mean by certain things (the definitions).

There can be variations in recipes, and there can be variations in procedures for different contexts: the location, the customer etc. Sometimes, you can explain everything in one document, but there may be times where you have a procedure for each specific context. This means you may need to explain when and where someone might have to do something.

Procedures differ slightly from recipes in that they can involve more than one person. This means you should also include information on the roles and responsibilities – to explain where everyone fits in. With online content, you have the opportunity to filter and personalise the information to specific types of reader. That’s harder to do with printed documents, and Word files.

You might also need to describe what happens after the procedure has been completed – what is the next procedure that follows this one.

Governance and accountability

This content needs to be credible and accurate, so readers also need to be able to know when a policy, process or procedure was written, who approved it, and who is responsible for keeping it up to date.

If you need help with any of this

Don’t forget Cherryleaf can help. See our policies and procedures writing services.

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