Our recent webcast on the ‘Key Steps to Implementing an Agile Policy Management Program’ explored why organisations need to be able to respond rapidly to any changes and adapt policies where necessary. The only way to adapt to the dynamic, disrupted, and distributed nature of business is to be agile.
Covid-19 has demonstrated just how quickly the business environment can change and for many organisations this has meant a rapid restructuring of policies and processes. Digital transformation projects that would’ve normally taken 10 years to complete have been propelled and implemented in record time.
The shift to a new hybrid working model has also introduced new risks as more policies need to be communicated to staff. This has underpinned the importance of agility in meeting these challenges head-on and ensuring a quick and efficient response to changes in the internal and external business environment.
The key takeaways from the webcast included:
What is an Agile Policy Management Program?
An agile policy management program provides a framework of governance, identifies risks, defines compliance, and plays a crucial role in organisational success. It should also engage staff and clarify the standards of what is expected of them.
Policies are critical as they establish boundaries for behaviour. They are the written laws that define what is acceptable and unacceptable within your organisation.
Policies are written to control and guide behaviour around specific risks, so it’s vital that your staff are trained on the importance of these policies and what it means for your business.
Failure to adhere to policies could have serious consequences and expose your organisation to significant risk, data breaches, financial sanctions, legal action, not to mention the resulting reputational damage.
How can Organisations Achieve Agile Policy Management?
To be efficient, effective, and agile, organisations need a centralised policy management system that provides a consistent method of creating policies, adds structure to company procedures, and makes it easier to track staff attestation. In effect, it will provide a single source of truth that highlights all activities in relation to policies and staff training.
A centralised system will provide users with an easy-to-access portal where they can log in and find policies that apply to their role, along with required tasks, attestations, and related training.
This enables organisations to measure continuing improvements in awareness and highlight areas that require attention before they pose a risk to security and compliance.
5 Steps to Agile Policy Management
1. Plan Your Journey
The first step in implementing an agile policy management program is understanding the current state of policies within your organisation. For example, how many policies do you have? Where are they located? What format are they in? What departments are issuing policies? Really, it’s gaining a better idea of what’s working and what’s not within your organisation. If you take the time to properly evaluate the current state of policies, it will help you establish where you want to be in two or three years’ time.
2. Get the Right People on Board
To build the business case and engage other parts of the business with policy management, you need to get the right people on board. This group could include staff members from compliance, ethics, legal, human resources, finance, IT, security, and business operations. By establishing a central policy and training governance committee, you will be able to coordinate and drive consistent policy management across the entire organisation.
Having the right technology and infrastructure in place is crucial to helping you achieve your two or three year plan. The technology will help manage policy and training performance across the organisation and enable you to respond rapidly to any changes in the business environment. A centralised policy management system will help you manage the policy management lifecycle, train individuals on what is required of them, map policies to obligations, and provide a robust system of record to track who has accessed a policy as well as dates of attestation.
4. Break it Down into Stages
If you are implementing an enterprise-wide policy management strategy, you will need to break the process down into easily manageable stages. This is not something that can be achieved overnight and is best tackled one step at a time. This will be a collaborative process and will involve working closely with different departments within your organisation.
5. Be Ready for Change
To implement an agile policy management program in your organisation, you need to be prepared for change. Covid-19 has forced almost every organisation to immediately develop, adapt and improve their work policies and procedures. Having a well-defined policy management program in place is crucial to meeting these environmental challenges head-on and ensuring business continuity in a time of crisis. Ultimately, if you want to address evolving risks, regulations, and changes in the internal and external environment, you need to be able to adapt and be agile.
For further information on how to implement an agile policy management program in your organisation, watch our on-demand webcast with GRC expert, Michael Rasmussen.