This post forms part of a much wider series of posts on how to manage the life-cycle of your policies and procedures from within SharePoint. To view the other posts please refer to our 'policies and procedures blog'.

Once your policy has been created, reviewed and approved. It should then be moved to a policies and procedures site within your main SharePoint Intranet. To move the policy you can use the SharePoint Content Organizer, but it can also be manually copied. (For information, the Content Organizer allows your policy to be automatically routed to the correct library based on rules you specify).

SharePoint Group or Audience

Assuming you have already purchased and configured DocRead in your SharePoint farm, to distribute a policy or procedure to a group of users you have two options.

1. Use a SharePoint Group.

2. Use a SharePoint Audience.

(Combinations and multiples of both can be used)

To learn more, why not check out our 'Differences between a SharePoint Group and Audience' post?

For the DocRead publisher, (once the appropriate group or audience is configured) both options are as easy to use as the other. The DocRead publisher will simply navigate to the policies "Edit Properties" screen and select one or more audiences as being required, or recommended.

How long do you give users to read and acknowledge?

In addition to setting the set of groups that need to read the policy, the publisher will also specify how long each readership type will be given to read the document. The time given is an "offset" time in days. This means that if a publisher specifies that a user has 14 days to read, then all of the users in the group at the time will be given 14 days. If 2 months later another user is added to that group, DocRead will intelligently create a new task for that new user and give them 14 days. We call this SmartMove. Read more about audience targeted reading.

Once the publisher is happy with the changes, they then need to "check-in" the policy to SharePoint. At this point a couple of things may (optionally) occur.

1) Major Versions and publish

If the document library uses version management, then the policy will be saved as a minor version, e.g. "0.1", "1.8", "2.3" and so on. The DocRead Publisher must "Publish a major version" before DocRead will include the document for processing. Once saved as a major version when DocRead next processes, it will detect that a policy is published and ready to send to the users in the groups specified.

2) Content Approval Workflow

If the document library has an automatic Approval Workflow configured against it, (or content approval activated), then the document will be routed to one or many users so that it can be "approved" or "rejected". In this situation, DocRead will only distribute a policy or procedure that has been approved. This is ideal as the policy will not be sent out until all stakeholders are 100% happy with it.

DocRead processing

To create and track potentially tens of thousands of reading tasks we have developed it really efficiently. If we created those tasks when you click "Save" on the policy, this would result in your browser session hanging and also could make SharePoint slower for other users. Instead of this DocRead manages tasks in the background. If a user is a DocRead Admin, they can also manually create the tasks for that site only.

Notifications

Once the reading tasks are created and sent out to the users they will be visible in at least 2 ways:

1. An email is sent to them, notifying them that they have reading assigned to them.

2. DocRead web parts can be placed anywhere in SharePoint that will also show the outstanding reading tasks.

Reading and Confirming

Once a user finds the time to read and acknowledge the policy they are then required to 'acknowledge' the policy using DocRead. They must accept your terms and conditions and optionally pass a test. (This is achievable using DocSurvey, due January 2013).

Tracking and Reporting

One of the most important aspects to this whole process is the ability to track and report on progress. DocRead Reports are all accessible from SharePoint and allow you to see a helicopter view of progress. We can also create custom reports for customers if required.

Updates to policies

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If a policy is updated (as it inevitably will be over time), then all users who haven't read the old version will automatically be required to read the new version (as long as it has been published and approved). Users who have already confirmed the previous version will not be required to re-read the policy.

Reset Tasks

If your amended policy contains significant changes that require all users in the group to re-confirm then this can be easily achieved using "Reset Tasks". Reset Tasks will delete existing assigned (i.e. not yet completed) tasks and create negative reading receipts showing that the original task was not completed and then create new reading tasks for everyone.

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DocRead for SharePoint is the only policy management software that enhances SharePoint and allows compliance professionals to distribute and track their policies and procedures.