People love to talk about policies and procedures. Even clear writing on this subject, however, isn’t the same as a lively discussion where different experiences, observations, and viewpoints are exchanged. While external training is still important, it is also possible to take part in discussions and exchanges with people from different regions representing all types of organizations – all from your office. Do you know how to use policy and procedure forums to your benefit?

Forums that are geared toward various business topics are common on the internet, even policies and procedures. Most of these forums take a question and answer format. The typical interaction is a posted question and one or a few respondents. Sometimes, however, someone asks a question that will illicit a discussion.

People post, then return to read responses, and then they post a reply – sometimes several times. These are always the most interesting threads. And since they are business sites, posts are usually professional and use appropriate decorum. Getting back to policy and procedure forums, let’s do a quick review of some useful sites you might want to check out.

Policy and Procedure ForumsThe ISO Quality Forums

This forum sponsored by the International Standards Organization is geared toward a quality management system complying with standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 14000, with different forums for the various standards. While the topic area is more than just policies and procedures, they are a popular subject, at least in the ISO 9001 area. While activity is not robust, most posts do receive at least one response, even if they are not always timely.

Interestingly, however, this site also displays the number of times a posting thread is viewed, and most have views that range in the thousands. So while posting activity might be slow at times, it is a popular site for exploring what others have to say. The policy and procedure questions generally seem to have the most views. It is a very useful site if your organization is complying with an ISO standard.

ASQ Discussion Boards

There is a category on the American Society for Quality Discussion Boards called Ask A Quality Professional that is very active. The topic of the forum is more about general quality than policies and procedures, but documentation is a common topic. There are several posts a week here, and each post generates a substantial thread of responses – some fairly immediate and others coming over the course of a few weeks. This can be a very useful place is you have quality responsibilities outside of just policies and procedures.

TECHWR-L

TECHWR-L (known as TechWhirl) is community of technical writers and it addresses a wide variety of technical communication issues. The policies and procedures category is a subset of the writing and editing section. Unlike discussion boards that make up most of this list, TECHWR-L is more like a blog or archive site (much like our own Bizmanualz blog) where posters share a story or a perspective in the form of an article, and others comment on it. Here is place to learn about real world experiences shared by writers facing wide ranging and difficult documentation challenges.

LinkedIn Groups

This has become one of the most popular methods for exchanging information among businesses. There are hundreds of thousands of broad-based and niche groups in the LinkedIn community; the Bizmanualz Policies and Procedures Group is one of them. If you’re not a member of LinkedIn, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities!

Facebook

Starting out as a social site for university students, Facebook has spread like a brush fire among all age groups. While extremely popular with individuals, it has yet to achieve its potential as a forum for information exchange among the business community. Still, a number of companies — like Bizmanualz — are using Facebook to try to keep in touch with their customers. Do you rely on Facebook for company information?

What Do You Think?

My favorite is the TECHWR-L site. You might select a different one as your favorite. We would like to hear your feedback on our list of policy and procedure communities. Which site do you find more useful, more informative, and/or more user friendly? What are you looking for in an on-line community focused on policies and procedures? Are there some useful on-line communities we missed?

Your comments could make the Bizmanualz archive blog more interactive and discussion oriented. Our mission is to help your business, including effective use of policies and procedures, and we’d love to hear your suggestions and comments on how to improve the Bizmanualz policy and procedure site. You can enter a comment below — or for those of you who receive this article via email, email me directly using the link found at the top of the email.