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April 6, 2022

How to ensure your policy portal becomes a golden source of truth

Anastasia Dokuchaeva
Head of Products at Clausematch

While storing all your organisation's policies and procedures on a single, centralised policy portal can be a game changer, it's not a silver bullet.

Having a golden source of truth — a single, go-to source where everyone can find your latest approved policies and procedures — boosts productivity, increases employee engagement, and makes compliance less costly and more efficient.

But, as obvious as it sounds, you can only reap these benefits if everyone in your organisation fully commits to the policy portal and uses it consistently.

So where can things go wrong?

And what best practices can help you avoid these pitfalls and make sure your policy portal becomes a repository of complete, accurate information that employees across your organisation can truly trust?

Usability drives adoption

When a policy portal — or any other digital transformation project, for that matter — fails to deliver the results you expected, it's typically for one of two reasons:

  • Usability issues

  • Legacy behaviours

These are two sides of the same coin. If the policy portal's interface is clunky, for instance, it will discourage staff from using it. In turn, this will encourage them to stick to what's familiar. In other words, they'll keep doing things the same way they did them before the policy portal was set up.

Staff may explain these behaviours as necessary workarounds. And they may well be right. Case in point, they may feel like they're forced to download and save policies on their desktops because the policy portal is so unintuitive it's quicker and easier to search locally.

The problem is that these behaviours defeat the purpose of having a policy portal in the first place.

Not only has your firm invested considerable time and money in a system that, rather than helping, has made your staff's lives more difficult. Worse, your employees may keep referring to the policy documents they've saved locally without realising they've been updated or replaced. And this will create confusion and make it harder to ensure compliance.

Old habits die hard

Of course, it's not just usability issues that can hamper adoption and encourage bad practice. It's also true that change is hard.

Switching to a single source of truth may require staff to break long-standing habits, some of which may have been built over decades.

More to the point, if your data has been siloed for many years, staff may have grown protective of it. Or they might even fear that setting up a policy portal where anyone can access what they need without having to go through them will put their role at risk.

When we spoke to Travelport's global head of compliance and ethics Rose Chapman for our white paper Compliance 2030: Technology's promise for banking's future, she put it this way:

"Problems implementing [new systems] are often people issues. People who have been doing things the same way for a long time may feel undermined or fear they may become redundant."

Taking the sting out of change: 3 best practices when implementing a policy portal

Usability issues, bad practice, and undesirable legacy behaviour tend to be symptoms of deeper issues.

More often than not, new systems — whether it's a policy portal or another technology tool — fail to catch on because there's a disconnect between the priorities of an organisation's leaders, and those of the frontline staff who need to make the system work.

But as much as these issues can derail your success, they're also very preventable. The key is to make sure you follow these three best practices when implementing your policy portal.

1. Get everyone on board as soon as possible

At the end of the day, having a policy portal that acts as a golden source for your entire organisation is all about making life easier for everyone, whether that's leaders, compliance teams, or frontline staff.

Faced with a rising tide of increasingly complex regulation, leaders want to cut costs, simplify compliance, and be able to exercise better oversight. And understandably so.

But a policy portal is for enabling employees further down the chain, too. It's there to help them easily understand what's expected of them so they can conduct themselves appropriately and be more effective in their day-to-day work.

With this in mind, it's crucial to get your staff invested in the process as soon as possible. If they're excited about the new system early on, they'll be more likely to put in the effort needed to make it succeed.

2. Invest in training

While stakeholders' enthusiasm for the new way of doing things goes a long way — nine times out of ten, it's better practice to give a carrot than use a stick — training matters too.

Transitioning from siloed and, perhaps, manual systems to a smart, connected, and centralised repository of information requires a change in mindset. So it's crucial to make sure everyone has the right tools to succeed.

Regardless of how intuitive and user-friendly the new environment is, you should make sure your staff have a good grasp of the basic functionalities, such as searching and tagging.

More importantly, your staff should know who to talk to if they're struggling with the system and need help or support. This way, they can quickly resolve those issues.

3. Communicate clearly and consistently

It goes without saying, but for a policy portal to entrench itself as a golden source, it needs to be used consistently. And this means everyone has to understand that it's going to be the only system you'll be using moving forward.

This is where the stick can come into play.

Case in point, you could reject documentation that isn't submitted through the new portal. Or disable functionalities like downloads, so policies can't be saved locally. This can all help staff build new habits.

At the same time, it's also worth having a policy about the policy portal itself. Having rules around document-naming conventions and what should happen to outdated documents helps ensure consistency and avoid issues that could lead to people backsliding into old habits.

Not all that glitters is gold

It's an often repeated statistic that 80% of digital transformation projects either fail or fall short. And implementing a policy portal is no exception.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way.

By drumming up enthusiasm for the new system early on, setting clear expectations, and empowering your staff to use it well, you can overcome implementation challenges and set your policy portal up for success.

Want to build a golden source of truth for your organisation, but not sure where to start?

We can help.