In today’s regulatory environment, blindly pushing out policies to your employees is risky business. Not only do you not have assurances employees are actually reading the policies, you also have no assurances that they understand the policies. Most organizations today use in-house intranets as their sole means to ensure policies are distributed, but that’s all. Today’s blog is about how one of our clients, global restaurateur HMSHost, transformed their policy management framework to drive efficiencies throughout the organization while also helping the company to be more compliant with reduced risk.
Tori Lang, Sr. Manager, Policies and Procedures at HMSHost, led a team to revolutionize the way the company approached policy management. She and her team embarked on designing a completely new policy management framework for their business – creating a structured process to create or update, review, retire, and capture deviations for policies and procedures. In doing so, they created a “meta” policy on how to manage policies. Sound crazy? This actually was pivotal in HMSHost being able to streamline their processes and programs, and led to the search for a technology solution that could automate and further streamline their policy management process.
Tori’s vision went further than that: “We realized that in addition to putting a structured policy management framework in place, we needed to bring various teams and departments together. Finding a policy management solution for our organization that would work for all functional areas enabled this collaboration. And, on top of the labor and process efficiencies gained, we were able to contribute to a more effective and defensible compliance program.”
The right policy management solution allows you to communicate policies, sign-off on policies, track that sign-off, provide tests, reporting, and more. And, as an added bonus, the process of putting the framework together and selecting the technology itself, created a series of events that allowed Tori’s team to gain buy-in at every stage. But, this was not without challenges.
“At first we tried an enterprise approach, but couldn’t gain the necessary buy-in. We changed our approach to implement the new framework and technology solution in one functional area. With its success we were able to show the ROI and gain buy-in from the leadership teams across the enterprise, and received the green light to implement company-wide,” said Tori.
The synergy and efficiency resulted in some impressive metrics. When HMSHost started this process, they had over 120 Operations Finance policies in place. They were able to reduce this to 40 while maintaining strong internal controls. They went from nearly 240 pages of content to 90, representing a significant decrease in what they were asking their associates to read. Now, HMSHost associates will more likely read the policies and better understand them – leading towards higher compliance. But wait… there’s more; since August 2016, 90 finance policy or procedure change requests were received. At this point, only three remain—but policy management is a continuous lifecycle.
“We are moving toward one policy management process across the organization with standard templates so documents have the same look and feel. More importantly for our associates, we will have one organized location for all policy and resource documents, accessible from any device with internet access,” said Tori. “We’ve made a real difference in getting the right information and tools to our associates so that we can manage our business efficiently, effectively, and responsibly.”
Next steps for Tori and the cross-functional teams she leads are to ensure employees truly understand the company’s policies – giving employees mechanisms to do so – and methods to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the policies, procedures, and controls.