I Need an Automated Policy Management System: Should I Build or Buy?

As many ethics and compliance professionals know all too well, effective management of even a single policy can require significant effort. Managing and coordinating the work of subject-matter experts, reviewers, and approvers; publishing the policy in a timely manner; ensuring that readers can access the appropriate documents and evaluating readership requires organization, documentation, attention to detail, discipline, and frequent communication.

When this effort is multiplied by each and every important document in your organization, even the most talented professionals will need the help of additional personnel and systems.

The Problem With Relying on Manual, Archaic Approaches to Policy Management

When organizations rely on outmoded or manual systems that lack the ability to help them centralize, automate, standardize, distribute and track policy management, they run into a whole host of problems.

These systems are often a patchwork made of up printed manuals or binders, an intranet,  hard drives, USB drives, e-mail, and  outdated or inefficient software.

Incremental changes in tools, people or workflow processes may help address particular pain points in the policy management process, but ultimately they are just bandages on serious wounds.

(To learn best practices for handling the policy management lifecycle, access our complimentary Policy Management Bootcamp Webinar Series.)

The Cost of Not Addressing Policy Management Problems

For organizations with struggling policy management systems or processes, failure to be agile and keep up with the rapid pace of new and updated laws and regulations presents serious reputational, operational and legal risks. Issues with policy management can also create conflicts within your organization when policy management creates misalignment among governance, strategy, and execution.

“The bottom line is that no matter how proficient you are at managing processes around policy management, the size and the complexity of the task requires automation to create a centralized, standardized and controlled environment.”

Without automation, controlling processes can be an overwhelming task; human error is inevitable, and the end result can be costly. Failure to fully implement policies can hurt operational efficiency and lead to outdated policies. The lack of an audit trail is even more problematic—opening the door to legal liability.

The bottom line is that no matter how proficient you are at managing processes around policies, the size and the complexity of the task requires automation to create a centralized, standardized and controlled environment.

Should I “DIY” an Automated Policy Management Solution?

When organizations struggling with policy management systems come to grips with the need for a specialized approach to an automated policy management solution, they often arrive at a crossroads: Do we try to build our own automated policy management system?  Or do we invest in built-for-purpose technology to help us address our challenges?

There are a number of factors and risks to consider with a build-your-own approach:

  • Building a policy management software system can a labor-intensive process that requires significant development and administrative resources over a considerable period of time.
  • The capital cost of building a customized policy software solution is often the highest of any alternative—and thus bears the highest risk. In addition, the ongoing internal resources required to support and maintain the system can come at a significant additional cost, which is often greater than expected.
  • Getting additional features or capabilities approved and prioritized in the queue of your IT department’s projects after the initial project is complete can be a challenge.

In contrast, buying a solution has significant benefits:

  • Built-for-purpose policy management software is specifically designed for managing policies, providing workflow flexibility, attestation, quizzing, tracking, advanced search, tagging, version control and security. It also has extensive audit-trail capabilities to help organizations mitigate legal risks around policies.
  • Time-tested policy management systems have been through years of iteration and refinement based on user feedback. As a result, users can quickly get up to speed and rely on the efficiency and effectiveness of the tool.  
  • Commercial policy management software is more scalable, and has advanced functionality (localization for international policy management, for example) to help organizations meet their needs both today and in the future.

Making the Decision That’s Right for Your Organization

As organizations today are quickly coming to understand, realizing the full potential of the policy management function requires an automated policy solution.

Unfortunately, many organizations struggle through implementation and maintenance of homegrown policy management solutions only to later abandon the effort and the investment in favor of a more affordable, built-for-purpose, purchased solution.

Commercial policy management software, such as NAVEX Global’s PolicyTech can be an economical, efficient, effective, and safe approach to solving the complex and diverse challenges of policy management.

To learn more about whether PolicyTech might be the right solution for your organization, visit www.navexglobal.com/policy, where you can also download our free eBook, The Definitive Guide to Policy Management.