Policies and procedures are requirements for most organizations. Many have to write these types of documents because they have to comply with regulations, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO is a family of standards that focuses on improving quality assurance. One of the most common examples of policies and procedures that organizations write is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Policies state the rules the company will implement throughout the organization or department. For example, the company has a policy about passwords. It may state that employees must change passwords every 60 days. The policy may also state that the system will notify employees 14 days in advance of their passwords expiring. Policies must be clear, concise and consistent. Policies will also have acronyms in them. The writer should spell them out the first time they are used and then use the acronyms throughout the rest of the policies.
Procedures implement policies. Procedures provide detailed information, such as step-by-step instructions about how to perform tasks. An example of a procedure would be how to create new network accounts. The first step may include the manager having to fill out a form for his new hire. The form may require the manager to provide information, such as the new hire’s full name, job title and department where the new hire will be working. The manager then submits the form to the IT department. The network administrator will then have procedures she must follow. These can include setting up an email and network account and creating a security badge. Procedures must be easy to follow. It is important to keep in mind that procedures change over a period of time. Therefore, the company should review them at least once a year. It should designate a person to update procedures. Like policies, procedures must be consistent, concise and accurate.
SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure. This type of document describes what the organization and its departments do. In addition, it explains the employees’ roles and responsibilities. Then the SOP will usually include policies and procedures for each department. For example, the policy will cover the rules for purchasing hardware. Then the procedure will provide step-by-step instructions about how to purchase hardware. Although the SOP primarily consists of text, a good one should include organizational charts, diagrams, flow charts and workflow.
Based in Atlanta, Felicia Blue has been writing articles since 1992. Her articles have been featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, “Crain’s Cleveland Business” magazine and “Destiny” magazine. She has also written for IBM, Sun Microsystems and HP. Blue holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of California, Los Angeles.