Policy Writing: Inter-Departmental References

Lyndsey GuthreyBy Lyndsey Guthrey

Inter-departmental references can be very useful during policy development when used correctly. It is important  to remember that other departments likely will not read your department’s policies and, when they do, the other department will not alter their performance to accommodate your P&P. Additionally, even if you are aware of the procedures of the other department, you may not be immediately aware of when those procedures change, making your P&P outdated if you used refer to the old process. Finally, from an auditing perspective, if there is any difference between your department’s P&P and the other department’s P&P on the same subject, it makes both procedures look highly suspect.

For this reason it is important to write from the perspective of an internal department employee as opposed to an overseeing director with additional knowledge of the inner workings of the other department. When referencing the other departments procedures, provide a link to their actual P&P as opposed to writing in what they must do. For example: “Analyst then sends the report to Department B for processing through submission portal on intranet page main page. See P&P 002 Report Processing. After the report is returned from Department B,  analyst will…” Naming the procedure being referenced allows the employee reading the P&P to understand why there is inter-departmental interaction at this point. If the employee requires additional information about the other procedure they may view the other department’s procedure rather than relying on your department’s external understanding of the another department’s processes.

Inter-departmental reference can and should be used when appropriate. With a little care, they can make policy writing much simpler.

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