September 06, 2023
Developing and maintaining IT policies can be challenging.
a proactive approach
commitment from leadership
allocation of resources
clear ownership of policy management
a culture of security awareness
compliance within the organisation
the challenge can be met.
Conducting regular reviews, and providing training programs and ongoing communication are key elements of a successful policy development and maintenance exercise.
What are the common challenges?
Resource Constraints: Developing and maintaining IT policies requires the allocation of dedicated time, effort, and resources. . Many organisations may only have limited resources available for this task, leading to delays or neglect of policy development and maintenance.
Lack of Awareness: Sometimes, organisations are not fully aware of the importance of IT policies and their potential impact on security, compliance, and overall operations. This can lead to underinvestment in policy development and maintenance.
The Regulatory Landscape: IT policies often need to comply or be aligned with various frameworks, regulations and standards, which can change over time. Staying abreast of these changes and ensuring compliance can be challenging and resource-intensive.
Complexity of Policy Content: Striking the balance between comprehensive coverage and user-friendly language is essential. Becoming proficient at writing clear and effective policies that address technical and security issues takes skill and time.
Limited Training and Education: Employees and stakeholders may lack the necessary training and education to understand and implement IT policies effectively. This can result in non-compliance or misinterpretation of policies.
Lack of Accountability: Without clear ownership and accountability for policy development and maintenance, responsibilities can become confused, leading to inattention or inconsistencies regarding policy management arrangements.
Technological Changes: The pace and complexity of technological change can make it difficult to keep policies up to date. Innovative technologies, such as cloud computing, IoT or AI (Artificial Intelligence) may introduce new risks and challenges that need to be addressed promptly.
Budget Constraints: Organisations may prioritise other initiatives over policy development and maintenance due to budget constraints. This can result in policies that are not adequately updated or enforced.
Cultural Factors: Organisational culture can play a role in policy development and maintenance. If there is a culture of neglecting policies or taking shortcuts, it can hinder the effectiveness of policy implementation.
What are some of the key considerations in developing effective IT policies?
Well Defined Objectives and Scope - What is the purpose of the policy, and which areas or processes does it cover? This sets the stage for the policy's intent and helps readers to understand its relevance.
Use Plain Language - Where possible avoid jargon, technical terms, and complex language. Write in plain, easy-to-understand language so that all employees, regardless of their technical background, can grasp the policy's content and intent.
Organise and Structure Effectively - Structure the policy so that it has a clear hierarchy of sections and sub-sections. Use headings and bullet points to break down complex information. A well-organised policy is easier to read and reference.
Address Roles and Responsibilities - Clearly define roles and responsibilities related to the policy. Specifying who is responsible for enforcing the policy, who needs to comply, and what actions should be taken in case of non-compliance ensures accountability.
Keep Policies Current - IT environments and technologies evolve rapidly, so ensure that your policies remain current and are contextual. Regular reviews and updates should be scheduled to reflect changes in your business requirements, technology, security threats, regulations, and best practices. IT policies should be regarded as living documents.
Stakeholders - It is highly recommended that relevant stakeholders are engaged in the policy development process to provide input as subject matter experts. Engaging with people in IT, and outside of IT such as Legal, HR and Governance will help to ensure that the policies are comprehensive, accurate, and aligned with organisational goals.
A very cost-effective alternative
Considering all the above ultimately raises the question - how much time does one have to allocate to this type of project? A policy development project is something readily outsourced using IT Policy Management as a Service from Protocol Policy Systems. The service provides a very efficient means to develop and deliver IT policies. Our policy editors have done all the arduous work of creating content and ensuring it is aligned with best practice, and our consultants will assist you with the tailoring of policy wording to match your business requirements. Having deployed the policies to your organisation though our IT Policy Management software we then provide ongoing assistance with the maintenance of all the content.
“I assessed our requirements in the area of IT Policies and it was very evident that we had a lot of work to do if we were to draft content that was easy to read and understand, whilst being aligned with best practice. My estimate was that it would take 12-18 months to do this exercise in house and that was time we didn’t have, particularly as we were immersed in deploying new technology. I began researching options and identified Protocol Policy Systems (PPS) as a specialist provider in this area.“ – David Sheehan, Head of IT, THCH.