According to Rasmussen, an efficient and effective policy management system has three hallmarks.
Firstly, individual policies must be communicated, understood, and enforced.
'The focus is more and more on the integrity of organizations...and the foundation of good governance is in our policies. It cannot be smoke and mirrors... Policies have to be lived and breathed.'
Policies have a role in influencing behavior and culture — from how staff go about doing their work to the way they treat customers. So, organizations need to ensure everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
As Rasmussen puts it: 'A strong culture means policies aren't just pretty documents. They're actually going to be communicated ... We assign the right resources, we make them accessible, and we measure their effectiveness.'
Secondly, you should be able to have a birds' eye view of your policies.
Policies are rules of conduct. But they're also risk documents. 'The fact you have a policy,' notes Rasmussen. 'means you've identified a risk that was significant enough you had to write something down about controlling it...'
These risks are bound to change over time, and new risks will also emerge. You need to be able to understand whether you have the right policies in place, whether there are any gaps, and also whether your policies are still relevant when changes happen or new risks emerge.
'We need to continuously monitor our environment to see what's changing. That triggers a review of a policy or maybe triggers the need to write a new policy that we don't have already...'
Lastly, effective policy management requires consistency.
'A consistent process for writing, approving, disseminating, and attesting policies using consistent language enables an organization to have strong reporting, proper enforcement... and ensure employees understand their role in the organization.'
This consistency, in turn, also ensures consistency. 'The right policies help us have consistent behavior, processes, and transactions, so we can reliably achieve our objectives...'