This is a list of common features that today's policy management software should be capable of delivering. Where appropriate, each item has a link to a page explaining how Microsoft SharePoint can solve the requirement detailed.
It is essential that there is one place to store work-in-progress policy, reference documentation, meeting minutes, discussions, site links, videos and so on. Microsoft SharePoint allows a SharePoint site to be created with ease. Each policy should have it's own personal site for collaboration
The Document ID Service in SharePoint offers 2 major benefits. The first benefit is that each document (within the site collection) can be uniquely identified. As each document is allocated a unique id this means that this greatly reduces the risk of ambiguity where two documents are named the same or similarly. The 2nd benefit is that the document can be accessed via a URL that doesn’t contain location specific information. This has the advantage that if the document moves, or the URL changes, the link will remain intact, making integration into other systems more reliable.
From the day a policy is first created, to the day it is archived a policy should only be accessed and edited by users with appropriate permissions to do so. The SharePoint allows this by the use of groups and permissions.
There should only be one copy of a policy. SharePoint version management should be configured to allow a history of versions to be easily viewed and restored if necessary.
As a policy is authored and read there should be a full audit history of who changed what and when.
When a policy is ready to be published it needs to be approved by one or many stakeholders in the organization. SharePoint Approval Workflows greatly help.
Once a policy has been authored and approved, it needs to be a simple task to communicate it those employees that are required or recommended to read and confirm it.
When a policy has been communicated and assigned to an employee they should be given a deadline to confirm the policy by.
Once a policy has been sent out to staff, it should be easy to discover how has read it. DocRead reports help to solve this problem.
As an organization can have tens of thousands of documents in their document repository, it's good practice to classify documents to a given taxonomy. This includes policies. Classifying documents in this fashion really helps users find what they need.
A lot of policies require users to be educated. A policy management system should allow different types of media (documents, video and interactive courses) to be presented to the user.
Sometimes the only way to see if a user understands a policy is to set them a test. A policy management system needs to allow for exams, surveys and tests to be presented to the users.
When an employee needs to discover what their companies stance is on an issue, it should be possible for them to perform a search to easily locate that policy. SharePoint offers a first class Search engine that can be customized to provide the perfect search experience.
Once a policy is published, it's unlikely that it will need any amendments. Staff may not understand it, the law may change, or it may just be out of date. A policy management system should support the review and revise process making it easier to work with.
Once a policy is no longer needed it should be archived and stored in a place that can be retrieved if the requirement should arise.
To make sure that old policies are constantly reviewed and refreshed, it's good practice to do this with a SharePoint workflow. On the review date email reminders can be sent out to all users in a group.
All organizations need a method allowing staff to request the creation of a new policy. This can take the form of simple e-mail, but SharePoint allows a list to be developed and filled-in by a user in minutes. Once the request comes in to a SharePoint list, it can be tracked and processed by the entire team. An approval workflow can also be activated as the request lands.
All policies should be developed to a consistent set of standards. This includes a certain style of writing, look and feel and structure. SharePoint allows Document Templates to be associated with a content type. To help share the organizations standards (or policy or policies), SharePoint has fantastic document management features.