The fourth critical step in consolidating your policy as outlined in Policy Consolidation: Seven Critical Success Factors is a well-defined consolidation process. Consolidating policy is not a “one and done” thing. It is a repetitive exercise that must be accomplished for each discrete section of policy. Defining the process is critical to ensuring that all sections are constructed similarly and that the approval stage gates are standardized across sections. The process will help to organize and guide the consolidation effort.
Once articulated, the process will reinforce the leadership commitment to the consolidation effort. A defined process is a powerful tool for communicating with team members to keep both motivation and progress moving forward.
It is useful to understand and document the existing process for developing and releasing policy. The “as-is” state will highlight all of the functional areas that participate in the process as well as road blocks, time consuming activities and any gaps. Examining the existing process will also help to identify the necessary internal resources for the consolidation effort.
Since the consolidation and ongoing development of policy will occur in parallel and will involve many of the same resources, defining the consolidation process presents an opportunity to improve the existing policy development process. Considerations when developing the policy consolidation process:
- How long is the existing policy and how many artifacts are involved? The scope of the consolidation will influence the process of consolidation. Artifacts may need to be inventoried as a first step in the process.
- What are the roles needed to complete the job? Clear definitions will help to define the process as well as set participation expectations.
- What are the functions and skills needed to complete the job? Process steps should be added to address each functional area. Skills that may be overlooked include editing, proof reading and formatting.
- What quality control measures will be employed to ensure that style and language choices are uniformly adhered to?
- Where are the process participants located? Are they in a central location? The process should address not only how frequently, but in what manner the meetings will occur.
- What mechanisms will be used to reach consensus? How will conflict be resolved? Who in the organization is the final arbiter of the existing policy? The process should address these issues as well by setting aside time to adjudicate issues.
Once a process for consolidation is established, the team can organize to successfully consolidate the policy.