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Funny how typical document control procedures all mention that procedures will be reviewed annually, but do you actually review your procedures annually? Recently a Grand Jury report noted that the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office should update its policies and procedures. I would hope that your policies and procedures never fell that far out of date that a grand jury would have to tell you to update them.
The jury recommended that the Sheriff’s property room policies and procedures “be updated to meet current industry standards and that evidence handling procedures in all Sheriff’s facilities be regularly monitored.” The problem for most organizations is that the procedures are not used in the first place. After all, if you used your procedures on a regular basis then you would notice when they needed updating.
So the problem with policies and procedures manuals is usage, right? At Bizmanualz, we try to use our internal procedures regularly. For example, at the beginning of an Internal Audit, we start by getting out the procedure and making sure that our audit plans, checklists, audit findings and the final audit report all conform to the procedure. If we notice a difference, then we will discuss what needs to change, the procedure or the way we are performing the audit. In this way we regularly are reviewing the procedure and ensuring it is up-to-date.
So the next time you are executing a process that has a procedure written for it, stop and take the time to review the procedure, which should be available at the point of use. You may just save yourself the trouble of a grand jury having to tell you to update your procedures.