In our “Quick Overview of PolicyCo” article, we discussed how we think about Articles as the most basic units of content within a policy.  Whether you are starting your policy writing from scratch, or have a set of existing documents that you are pleased with, deciding how to separate that information into articles within PolicyCo is an important step.  With that in mind, here are several approaches to organizing policies into articles that have worked for our team.

1 - Broad Strokes - This approach is a great way to get started.  By breaking individual policies down into just a handful of larger chunks, you gain the benefit of standardizing the structure of your documents, while also being expedient.  Where a more granular approach can require extra thought and consideration, the broad strokes approach allows you to arrange your policy quickly and easily.  The most simple use-case would include two articles for a  policy - for instance, Purpose and Policy Statement.

2 - Hyper-Granular - This strategy is best suited to organizations and administrators who want individual control over every paragraph within a policy.  With this style of policy writing, what you are giving up in terms of speed is made up for with additional flexibility and specificity.  By breaking your policies up into smaller pieces, you are allowing each piece to carry its own attachments, procedures and controls.  Not to mention, you can assign multiple authors to individual articles within a single policy.

3 - Hybrid - Since there is no one size fits all approach to policy writing, what works for one policy might not work for another.  For instance, a Time Off and Leaves of Absence policy that includes guidelines for holidays, PTO, FMLA, and bereavement leave might warrant a more granular approach.  However, something like a Smoke-Free workplace might only require a Purpose and Policy Statement.   

Regardless of the approach that you choose, writing and distributing simple and clear policies is vital to the success of your organization.  Whether you are trying to communicate the values of your business or are working toward compliance for HIPAA, HITRUST, or SOC2, being thoughtful upfront about how you organize your articles will save you time and effort down the line.