Policies & Procedures: What if we don’t really follow them?

This is Part III of the three-part series on the importance of accurate policies & procedures and why that’s such a big deal.  We’ve seen that generic materials, while inexpensive, can have costly repercussions during a survey or regulatory review.  The same is true with creativity when your materials contain conflicting parameters and guidelines.  This time, let’s look at the importance of forms.

Incomplete and disorganized materials. For some reason, some policy writing companies don’t include forms in their policy manual, or the organization may use a form that is different from the one in the manual, if a form is included from the “factory”.  Fortunately, this is an easy issue to fix and an important one.  If you’ve been following this blog series, you already know that policy manuals are important. If you’re a regulated and accredited organization, they are mandatory and critical. Last time, we discussed inaccuracies in materials and information that gets “borrowed” from another organization and miraculously becomes your own. Nowhere is this more rampant than in the use of forms.

We renew our caveat against pirating copyrighted materials.  Assuming you have authorization to adapt a form to your organization, why not include it in your manual?  If one purpose of the policy manual is to create an operational blueprint, forms are paramount.  We suggest that you:  audit your forms; replace obsolete forms in your manual with the ones you’re actually using; and create an approval process so that staff members don’t implement new forms willy-nilly. By making a conscious effort to periodically review the contents of  your manual, you will avoid confusion among your staff, maintain the ability to clearly understand the information required and contained in the forms, and avoid the inability to explain ambiguity, inconsistency and inaccuracy in your data to a surveyor. That hot seat is avoidable with a regular audit of your forms.

In closing, you can see that our philosophy is akin to the “getting hit by a bus” analogy, but let’s be a little more positive.  What if you suddenly win the Lotto and are on a tropical island somewhere getting some R&R?  What…. you can’t get away for even one day because your staff won’t know what to do without you??  Thanks, I think we made our point!  Accurate materials that reflect your reality pay dividends in being great training tools and mechanisms to empower your employees to operate independently.  You’ll thank us for this advice one day, when you’re sipping a frosty Margarita by the water’s edge.


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