Vivienne Begg, Structured Writing Facilitator
Compliance documentation may be a subject you view as a necessary evil. Necessary because you need it in place to ensure you comply with government and industry regulations, keep your staff and customers safe, and that your staff can carry out their work effectively and efficiently.
You may also see it as evil because writing or updating compliance documentation is yet another task to fit into your already busy schedule. And it’s probably a task that you don’t have specific skills or experience in.
But without the necessary documentation in place you run the risk of serious consequences like fines, shut-downs or litigation, not to mention a longer, costlier audit process.
Or, you may well have documentation in place, but know that it’s not effective. Typical issues with this type of documentation include:
- It’s hard for staff – and auditors – to find relevant information
- Staff are overwhelmed by the length of documents
- Information is out of date or inaccurate.
So, what are some key issues to keep in mind if you’re writing or re-writing compliance documentation?
First, ensure you are clear about the purpose of your document, and don’t include supplementary information “just in case”.
For example, if you are creating a drug and alcohol policy, this might cover:
- The reason for the policy
- The policy itself
- Who is covered
- Implementation of the policy
- Consequences of non-compliance
- Contact point
Don’t be tempted to include information on the testing process – this should be covered elsewhere.
Second, remember these documents will need to be maintained and updated over time, in response to changing regulations or changing practices. Keep this manageable by using a modular approach like structured writing. This will ensure that you only need to change individual parts of the document, rather than having to re-write the whole thing.
So, if you need to start writing – or re-writing – what can you do?
TP3 offers a course in Writing Policies and Procedures, which introduces you to our structured writing approach, and how to apply it to compliance documentation. It also includes an optional online module on using MS Word tools to create styles and templates, so that your writing process is consistent and efficient.
Alternatively, we can provide you with expert writers who can do the writing for you. We have over 25 years’ experience in writing documentation for clients in industries including banking and insurance, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, transport, and more.
If you’d like to know more, please us on 1300 658 388.