Management is responsible for consistency in operational performance: consistency is dependent upon adherence to approved policies and procedures for repetitive functions
The purpose of this group activity is to determine whether policy and procedure manuals exist, and if so, the care with which they are developed and applied. Commercial and nonprofit organisations will benefit from developing statements of principles and objectives to guide all decision making in relation to functions which are repeated, and to ensure consistency in approach and value. Most importantly, policies and procedures should always reflect the current philosophy and bottom-line.
Policies and procedures may be kept in the same manual or in separate manuals.
1. Pose this question to the Management Group: is the Group aware of the value and importance of policies?
Discussion should follow along these lines:
- what is the internal procedure for developing a new policy
- what is the internal procedure for changing an existing policy
- does a policy manual exist, containing copies of all policy decisions made over (at least) the previous three years
- is the policy manual up-dated as new policies are made, or out-dated policies amended
- is the policy manual used as a major reference by the Group in decision-making and planning
- is the policy manual accessible, and used as valuable and important information in the orientation of new staff
2. From this discussion, the current importance of internal policies will become apparent. The opinions of the Group members should be noted as discussion continues.
3. Attention needs to be given now to the record of opinions. Is there agreement that particular actions need to be taken to:
- establish a policy manual in the event that none exists,
- review the existing policy manual to ensure it contains all current policies, and/or
- review and formalise the procedure to develop, implement or evaluate policies?
4. Allocate responsibilities – and resources – for agreed actions, and agree on completion dates.
5. Turn attention now to procedures, eg to satisfactorily complete a task or carry out a responsibility to the required standard.
- apply equally to functions which are repeated (ie where policies are appropriate) and to those which are ‘one-off’, and
- provide instruction and guidance, thus ensuring a basis for measuring quality in performance
6. Pose this question to the Management Group: is there a clear understanding of the link between policies and procedures?
- a policy is written for a function carried out frequently within the organisation, and each policy requires a written procedure to ensure it is implemented according to internal requirements
- a procedure is written for functions covered by a policy, as well as for one-off functions or activities for which a policy is not required
Discussion should follow along these lines:
a) is there a clear understanding of the responsibilities associated with any procedure, such as:
- what needs to be done, in sequence from start to finish
- why it needs to be done
- how it needs to be done, and to what standards
- how often it needs to be done
- who is accountable, and to whom, for the satisfactory completion of the procedure
- who is responsible for each stage of the procedure
- who else is involved in each stage
- what is the time-frame for the total procedure
- where do the various stages take place
- what resources or facilities are required to satisfactorily complete the total procedure
- how will progress be monitored
- how will the total procedure be evaluated
b) is this sequence already in place, and who is responsible for writing procedures and monitoring their implementation: if there is no sequence currently in place, what is the best way of introducing such a sequence
c) does a procedures manual exist, containing copies of all formal internal procedures to be followed
d) is the procedures manual up-dated as new procedures are developed or out-dated procedures amended
e) is the procedures manual used as a reference manual to monitor quality and standards within the organisation
f) is the procedures manual accessible, and used as valuable and important information in the orientation of new staff
7. From this discussion, the current importance of internal procedures will become apparent. The opinions of Group members should be noted as discussion continues.
8. At the conclusion of discussion firstly on policies, and secondly on procedures, agreement is needed to:
- establish relevant manual/s if neither exist,
- review existing manual/s to ensure all current policies and procedures are included, and/or
- review and formalise a consistent procedure for developing, introducing and evaluating policies and procedures.