Policy and Procedure Development Tools
Development & Review Process
Guidelines for Writing Policy & Procedure
This web page is designed to help Swinburne staff create policies and procedures that are necessary, current, relevant and useful, and to ensure that they are developed and presented in a uniform way.
The page will guide you through the process of policy and procedure development, writing, approval and implementation.
Development & Review Process
The process for development and review of policy and procedure is a circular process - from the initial stages of identifying a gap through to implementation of an approved policy and procedure and subsequent reviews to ensure currency of the policy and procedure.
To ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to policy and procedure development and review at Swinburne, a staged approach is recommended.
A summary of the stages is outlined below, however please refer to the Policy Framework for full details of steps required during the process:
Stage 1 - Needs Analysis
Identify a gap by a change of internal or external factors, or as a result of a regular review of the policy or procedure.
For new policy proposals, Policy Owners should liaise with Policy Sponsor and the Governance and Policy Unit to gain interim approval before commencing drafting and consultation.
Stage 2 - Consultation and Drafting
Undertake research to ensure best practice, and consult with stakeholders to gain, in principle, agreement on policy.
Draft policy and procedure using appropriate template.
Review draft with stakeholders.
Consider impact of new policy or procedure on stakeholders, systems and operations and develop implementation and communication plan. Document implementation actions on Request for Approval form.
Stage 3 - Authorisation
Submit for approval using Request for Approval template.
Stage 4 - Communication & Implementation
Undertake implementation steps.
Publish on Policies & Procedures Directory.
Stage 5 - Maintenance
Monitor changes required to policy or procedure and record on Policy Issues Log.
Stage 6 - Review
Review every two years or earlier if necessary.
A number of templates have been developed for use within the policy & procedure development and review process.
All policies and procedures being developed or reviewed after 1 September 2007 must be on these new templates. If you require assistance in converting to a new template, please contact the Governance and Policy Unit.
|Policy & Procedure template
This is the template you must use to write a policy or procedure.
Development of university wide (eg. covering both divisions) policies is encouraged. If you need to attach more than one procedure to a policy, please contact the Governance and Policy Unit for advice on adapting the template.
|Guidelines for Writing Policy and Procedure
||This sheet provides some guidance on naming policies and procedures, and for writing policy and procedure. This information is also available below.
|Committee Terms of Reference template
||This is the template you must use to write the terms of reference for any Swinburne committee.
|Request for Approval template
||You must complete this form and forward it to the Governance and Policy Unit for approval of a new or amended policy or procedure.
|Policy Issue Log template
||It is recommended that Policy Owners use this template to record any issues that arise during or after implementation of a policy or procedure. Such issues can be incorporated into future reviews of the policy or procedure.
|Unit Rules template
||This template is provided as a guide for organisational units to document their unit rules or work instructions. It is not mandatory to use this template.
Guidelines for Writing Policy and Procedure
|Policy and Procedure Titles
|When naming a policy or procedure:
- Bear in mind that the documents are listed alphabetically (as well as by category) on the Policy & Procedure Directory. The first letter of the first word is therefore critical in the location of the policy or procedure.
- Avoid using generic first words such as "University", "Policy" or "Procedure".
- Ensure the title accurately reflects the policy or procedure content.
- Ensure the title does not start with stop words such as "the", "that" or "a"'.
- Ensure the title is succinct.
- Ensure that related policies or procedures have similar titles.
- If the policy or procedure applies to only one division (ie. TAFE or Higher Education), include the division as an extension to the title (eg. Deferral - TAFE).
|Policy and Procedure Writing
|Always ensure that you are working on the most recent version of a policy by requesting it from the Governance and Policy Unit
|Remember the difference between policies and procedure
- Describe the rules that establish what will or will not be done.
- Can range from broad philosophies to specific rules.
- Are usually expressed in standard sentence and paragraph format.
- Include WHAT the rule is, WHEN it applies and WHO it covers.
- Describe the critical steps undertaken to achieve policy intent.
- Are succinct, factual and to the point.
- Are usually expressed using lists.
- Include HOW to achieve the necessary results.
|Use everyday language that readers will easily and immediately understand
- Use short words (one or two syllable).
- Avoid the use of jargon, unnecessary technical expressions and fancy vocabulary.
- Use common words (eg. "use" instead of "utilise").
- Use active, rather than passive language.
- Write as you would speak, editing out informal words or phrases.
- Avoid the use of acronyms. If acronyms are necessary, use the full title/term first before using the acronym.
|Keep the structure simple
- Use gender-neutral language - use "their" instead of "he/she".
- Use short sentences (maximum of 15 words).
- Use short paragraphs (maximum of 100 words for policies; maximum 40 words for procedures).
- Use lists - it makes it easier to read, and encourages short sentences.
- Use numbering to facilitate easy referencing.
- Be consistent - repetition of familiar words increases comprehension.
- Remove words that don't add meaning. Tips to help achieve this include: write as you would normally do so, then edit to create short sentences to remove unnecessary words and information that does not add value to the policy or procedure. For example use "often" instead of "in most cases", "before" instead of "prior to", "because" instead of "due to the fact that".
- Use definitions in the Swinburne Policy Dictionary to ensure consistency of terms throughout policies and procedures.
- Use the approved policy and procedure template - documents written and presented in a consistent manner aids readability
|Be specific - mean what you say and say what you mean
- Rather than "submit the appropriate form" say "Submit the Withdrawal from Program form".
- If action is mandatory "must" or "will" is used.
- If the action is recommended or valid reasons to deviate from the requirement may exist in particular circumstances, then 'should' is used.
- If the action is permissive "may" is used.
- The word "shall" must be avoided unless there is a legislative requirement than prescribes its use. This word causes confusion between whether an action is mandatory or recommended.
|Avoid the use of information that is quickly outdated and that therefore requires regular amendment.
- Use department names, rather than position titles (if possible).
- Avoid using specific names or contact details.
- Provide links generic web pages rather than specific web pages (if possible). For example, refer to "Student Administration Forms" rather than the specific url for the form.
- List steps to follow in order to comply with the policy.
- List responsibility for each step.
- Use one action per step - steps that contain more than one action can confuse the reader.
- Wherever possible, start with an action verb, ie. "Submit completed form to Academic Unit" rather than "The student should complete the form and then submit it to the Academic Unit".
- Avoid too much detail - link to unit rules or work instructions stored on the University intranet if necessary.
- Refer the reader to related documents, forms, work instructions/unit rules.
|Version Control and Change History
- The Version Control and Change History will be updated by the Governance and Policy Unit after any changes have been approved by the relevant body.