Policies and Procedures “Control Points” – Ensure your policies and procedures are followed

For decades, policy and procedure writers have faced the dilemma of finding ways to get people to follow the content of policies and procedures. Writers have tried everything from:

  1. Education
  2. Communication
  3. Coaching and Mentorship
  4. Holding hand
  5. Newsletter articles
  6. Post on a bulletin board
  7. Videotape, DVD
  8. auditing
  9. And much more

These traditional methods may work in some cases, but let’s face it, unless these traditional methods are used routinely, there is no way to ensure policies and procedures are followed.

There are some “sure” methods to ensure policies and procedures are followed. My two favorites are “Control Points” and “Buy-In”. Since I’ve written articles on “Buy-In,” I won’t focus on it except to say, “If you enlist the help of your users as you write policies and procedures, chances are those users will follow the policies.” follow and procedures are much higher.”

On to “Checkpoints”:Checkpoints are “built-in” mechanisms that either help an individual follow the instructions of a policy or procedure, or force the individual to follow the instructions. Let me explain.

  1. In the first case, you simply build these mechanisms into your policy or procedure. For example, you may have a procedure that requires the approval of the “X” person. In this case, you would insist (and you can also check the person) that this “X” person sign only whatever he/she is offered, when the PROCESS BEFORE has been followed correctly. And to reject (or not sign) when the PROCESS turns out to be broken. For example, if the procedure concerns purchase requisitions and certain fields are mandatory and when the “X” person receives the requisition and these certain fields are not filled in, then the “X” person should reject the document! And now the process works.
  2. This checkpoint can also be a form that contains only the correct fields to complete, and even better, on electronic forms, the form can be designed to “stop” the form filling (or force a correct answer) by prompting insist on specific required fields.

You get the point.

One last tidbit: Control points work well when management believes in doing the right thing, but when you have management that lets things slide, it becomes more difficult to ensure compliance.

FinallyI would suggest using all traditional methods and including “checkpoints” where possible.

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