Using Single Sourcing Publishing for Internal Policies and Procedures

Traditional policies and procedures

Every company will have a set of internal documents covering the work to be done, methods, regulatory responsibilities, health and safety, and administration. Historically these are a set of very dryly written files with paragraph and section numbering. An employee is usually asked to read and familiarise themselves with these documents at the start of their employment, and only on very rare occasions are they referred to again!

However, in reality these documents are there to guide you in the safest and most efficient agreed routes to get the work done. They also outline the important ways to solve problems and to abide by laws and regulations. Day to day the substance of these documents can get lost in the language used, and the sheer quantity of files.

Updates to these documents are often subject to a long process of written revisions, multiple copies of the file being edited by multiple people, unification of all the charges, review and checking, approvals and sign-off.

A new way to present information

One way to improve the use and access to this type of company information is to transfer them into searchable web pages. These can be published on an internal secure intranet to ensure company confidentiality. The original files can also be made available as downloadable files for printing, or you can choose to just have the information presented on screen.

By using a single sourcing software tool such as MadCap Flare, both the documents and the web pages are generated simultaneously after the content has been written. This avoids duplication of workload, and prevents errors that may occur when information is copied manually.

The website can be formatted so that the information is presented in a clear and attractive way, with navigation options and search tools. Links can be provided to online forms, making some internal procedures entirely paperless. In some cases additional graphics or videos can be produced to demonstrate how things work.

The PDF or printed versions can be formatted so that they look exactly as expected for procedural or policy documentation. Including all the section and paragraph numbering as required.

Updating with ease

When procedures and policies are updated, these can be done by a group of contributors working on the same source file together. Draft updated documents can be created for checking, both as the online and print variants. Once sign-off is received the changes can be applied to the live versions at the click of a button. For peace of mind, using version control allows you to retrieve previous versions when required.

The important thing is that the user, the employee, always has the most correct and up to date information available in order to complete their work. When solely using printed copies, it is often the case that the email or announcement of the update may be missed, and the old printed copy continues to be used past its validity. And of course, online information saves paper!


Published by Julia Barnard MBA

Technical Writer, Web Content Author, Digital Marketing Strategist, MBA, LCA Practitioner, Scientist

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