Policy development checklist

A policy is a guiding principle used to set direction and conduct in an organisation. A procedure outlines a series of steps and actions that need to be followed (and by whom) in order to accomplish the policy. Together they are used to define and implement the standards and goals of RMIT by ensuring compliance, enhancing the university’s strategic direction, providing structure for decision-making and reducing institutional risk. If necessary, they should link to statutes, regulations, instructions or supporting documents.

The following checklist will aid staff in selecting the correct format for their policy development proposal, and in assessing the content before submission for approval.

Objects of the policy types

Policies

Policies explain how the goals of the organisation will be achieved and are applicable across the university.

They serve as a basis for future decisions and actions, and encourage decision-making by offering guides. Policies also increase consistency of action by increasing the probability that individuals will make similar decisions when independently facing similar situations.

In the RMIT Policy on Policies, university policy is defined using all of the following criteria:

  • It is a governing principle that mandates or constrains actions.
  • it has institution-wide application
  • It will change infrequently and sets a course for the foreseeable future
  • It implements or enables the university’s strategic plan

University policy helps ensure compliance, enhances the university’s mission or reduces institutional risk.

Procedures

Procedures represent an implementation of policy and should evolve over time as new tools emerge, new processes are designed and the risks associated with an area change in response to internal or external environmental impacts.

A procedure is a system that describes in detail the process or steps taken in order to accomplish a job. Procedures are university-wide.

Procedures supply a more specific guide to action than policy does. There may be more than one procedure informing a policy.

Instructions and Supporting Documents

Instructions and supporting documents include guidelines, templates, forms, proformas, flow charts and any material designed to support or supplement policy or procedure.

Instructions and supporting documents provide assistance in approaching the task/situation articulated in policy or procedure.

Differences between the policy types

Policy

Procedure

Instructions

Provisions outline a general position providing a statement of principle consistent with the strategic thinking on a specific subject matter.

Provisions implement a process to address or give effect to principle set out in policy.

Provisions provide greater detail around the process outlined within the procedure.

Provisions are broad; providing a statement of principle addressing the subject matter.

Provisions are specific; setting out the actions that need to be undertaken and the positions responsible for taking them.

Provisions are very specific; providing greater detail at each step of the process outlined in the procedure.

Content changes infrequently.

Content changes periodically as new tools emerge and new processes are designed.

Content changes frequently and specific details are updated or amended.

Provisions outline a general position providing a statement of principle consistent with the strategic thinking on a specific subject matter.

Provisions implement a process to address or give effect to principle set out in policy.

Provisions provide greater detail around the process outlined within the procedure.

Typical characteristics (content) of each policy type

Policies

  • Objectives or aims match provisions
  • Based on, and consistent with, proper legal authority
  • Ethical, accountable, consistent and professional in accordance with the standards of the university
  • Consistent with RMIT value statements, charters, strategic plans and other policy
  • Consistent with relevant external codes of practice (such as AVCC or ANTA), good practice guidelines, state and federal legislation, relevant legislation in other countries
  • Robust, where required; practical and appropriate accompanying procedures or guidelines in place for required conduct
  • Comprehensive, in that it regulates and guides areas of conduct which are essential for the operations of the university

Procedures

  • Specifies who does what and when

Instructions and Supporting Documents

  • Includes detailed descriptions of routine processes and timelines

Policies and Procedures

  • University-wide in its audience and application
  • Mandates action or process
  • Broad enough to meet needs across the university
  • Incorporates feedback from consultation
  • Reasonable and realistic
  • Compliance is monitored in a systematic way
  • Resources are available to implement the provisions
  • If applicable to both sectors (Higher Education and TAFE), needs for both fully evaluated and included
  • Is succinct
  • Is specific
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