Down to the Basics: Policies and
By Kristi Fahy, RHIA
STREAMLINE, STREAMLINE, STREAMLINE! Organizations
keep hearing that streamlining the way business is conducted
will maximize outcomes and returns. Luckily, the path to a
more streamlined organization takes us all the way down to
the basics: policies and procedures.
It’s no secret that policies and procedures are floating
around every organization. In fact, most everyone has probably signed off on a few over the years. But do these individuals remember what they say or require? Do they know where
they can find them? How do organizations ensure the workforce is actually educated on policies and procedures as well
as adequately following and practicing what is within those
policies and procedures?
Organizations must develop a strategic and collaborative
approach to getting policies and procedures into the hands
of the appropriate people and offer guidance to ensure individuals understand the importance of following the policies
and procedures. Individuals must know the value of doing
things the right way the first time and to have confidence in
the work they are conducting—something that well-defined
policies and procedures offer. All current and future organizational policies and procedures should be reviewed, updated, distributed, and enforced.
Policies and procedures are necessary to provide organizations and their workforce members with best practices
and to ensure consistency across the organization. They
also establish accountabilities and clarify individual responsibilities. Policies and procedures are foundational to
the initiatives that they represent by defining what needs
to be done, how it needs to be done, why it needs be done a
certain way, and by whom.
The development of policies and procedures should be an
organization-wide effort that requires collaboration, standardization, and transparency amongst and across the various business units. This means that standardized policies
and procedures should be developed and understood by the
workforce in all business units to make sure everyone is on
the same page and speaking the same language as it relates to
Solid policies and procedures will ensure:
Visibility (ensures clarity from the workforce up to the executives, both up and down stream)
Understanding (on-boarding, training, cross-training)
Expectations (roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities
within and across teams)
Consistency (everyone follows the same standard process)
Quality (defined steps to ensure desired results)
Timeliness (defined steps to ensure desired durations and
Mastery (eliminates staff doubt and questions, builds
Risk mitigation (reduces gaps, inefficiencies, compliance)
So what is the difference between a policy and procedure?
According to consultants at the Pacific Crest Group, the differences are listed below.
Are general in nature
Identify company rules
Explain why they exist
Tell when the rule applies
Describe who it covers