Develop and Maintain a UB Policy

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You, as the policy writer, have the important task of reaching your audience with a policy that is clear, easily read and provides the right level of information. If users understand a policy, they are more likely to follow it and incorporate it into their daily work.

Develop Your Policy Following These Steps

University policies align operations, set behavior expectations and communicate roles and responsibilities. Follow these steps and use UB’s resources and tools to successfully research and write a document that meets the criteria for a UB policy.

1-2. Plan the Policy

Step 1: Identify a Need for a University Policy

A unit or individual determines the need for a university policy and obtains the agreement of at least one responsible executive (i.e., provost, vice provost or vice president) to take ownership of the policy.

Policy issues may emerge through federal or state legislation, State University of New York (SUNY) or Research Foundation (RF) policies, trends within a university unit, changes in best practices, an incident on campus or a variety of other ways.

Step 2: Know the Definition of a University Policy

A university policy is a directive that states the university’s official position on a particular issue. University policies endure across time and administrations and connect the university’s mission to individual conduct. University policies:

  • Mandate actions or constraints for members of the UB community
  • Have broad application throughout the university
  • Help achieve compliance with applicable laws and regulations
  • Support the university’s mission
  • Promote quality and operational efficiency
  • Help manage institutional risks
  • Support equity and integrity in practices across the university
  • Require presidential review and approval

A policy that does not meet all of the above criteria is a departmental, office or unit policy.

Departmental, office or unit policies:

  • Address needs at the unit level or control issues that affect a subset of the university
  • Apply only to the employees, staff, students and others within the issuing unit
  • May create additional specifications, requirements or restrictions
  • May not be more permissive than or contradict a university policy  

University policies must not be independently published or republished on departmental websites; departmental websites must link to the UB Policy Library.

3-4. Complete the Policy Proposal

Step 3: Complete the University Policy Proposal

The responsible office prepares the University Policy Proposal under the direction of the responsible executive.

The University Policy Proposal helps formulate:

  • The need for a proposed university policy
  • Whether the risk is sufficient to warrant the resources needed for policy development, implementation and maintenance
  • Initial university legal review and guidance

Step 4: Consult With University Legal Counsel

University legal counsel will review the University Policy Proposal:

  • For compliance with existing UB, SUNY and RF policies
  • For compliance with applicable federal and state laws
  • To identify potential legal risks that might arise from the use of a particular word, term, phrase or from any procedures included in or missing from the policy
  • For general legal obligations
  • To improve legal defensibility
  • To ensure that it is in the overall best interest of the university

5-6. Assemble a Writing Group

Step 5: Assemble a Policy Writing Group

Engage a group of individuals who are subject matter experts, policy users, stakeholders and others who will research and write the policy and procedures and provide feedback.

  • Define roles and expectations for members of the policy writing group
  • Establish a plan and time line for completion of the policy

Step 6: Know the Characteristics of a Good Policy Document

Good policy and procedure documents:

  • Consider why the user needs the information
  • Give the user the knowledge and security that the right things are done the right way
  • Are written assuming the reader has:
    • Basic knowledge of the campus
    • Novice knowledge of the specific policy and procedure being described
  • Use simple, clear, concise language – avoid jargon, legalese and overly technical descriptions
  • Begin with a strong, clear policy statement
  • Are general enough to apply to unanticipated situations
  • Differentiate between policy, background, procedure and other sections within the policy
  • Include procedures and guidance as a link to a departmental website
  • Provide accurate contact information
  • Are reviewed regularly and updated as needed

7. Conduct Policy Research

Step 7: Research and Gather Information

  • Determine if the proposed policy is needed in response to a:
    • Campus incident or problem
    • New or revised State University of New York (SUNY) policy
    •  New or revised Research Foundation (RF) policy
    • New or revised state or federal regulation
    • Changes in customer needs, best practices, university culture, social trends
    • Another reason
  • Review the University Policy Library to determine if existing policies address the issue
    • Could a related policy be expanded to include the information?
    • Could a related policy help inform the policy under consideration?
    • Cross reference rather than repeat information
  • Review policies issued by SUNY, other SUNY campuses and other universities
    • Other campuses may have found new ways of addressing the issue
    • Other policies may help focus your policy development, provide a good starting point and suggest clear language
  • Ensure that the university policy is in compliance with UB, SUNY and RF policies
    • A campus policy may be more restrictive, but cannot be more permissive than a UB, SUNY or RF policy
  • Identify current processes, problem areas and the potential impact of any changes

8-9. Write the Policy

Download the MS Word Template

Step 8: Prepare a Draft Policy

Before you start writing:

  • Think about the outcome you need to achieve
    • A strong, clear policy statement will provide direction or prescribe action
  • Research, analyze and read other policies, but don't just cut and paste sections from elsewhere
    • Be sure the document speaks with one UB voice
  • Assess the audiences for the policy and write for the audience, not the policy owner

Draft the policy using the University Policy Template.

The University Policy Template:

  • Provides a framework for developing the policy and organizes content in a consistent manner
  • Is structured so that the user can focus on the aspect of policy relevant to their decision

Contact Pam Lojacono in the Policy and Operational Excellence Office for advice and guidance at any time during the policy development process.

Step 9: Draft the Procedures, Guidance, Forms, Instructions and Department Web Pages

Draft:

  • Procedures required to implement the policy
  • Guidance, if additional information or explanation is needed
  • Forms, templates and related instructions required by the new policy
  • Department web pages that will include the procedures, guidelines, forms and instructions; the policy includes a link the departmental website

Procedures are a set of instructions, steps or methods for the implementation, enforcement or administration of a university policy. Typically, procedures are:

  • Action-oriented, outlining who will accomplish a task, how it is performed and when it must be done
  • Intended to ensure control activities are accomplished completely and consistently
  • Not considered to be policy in and of themselves
  • Created at the unit level
    • Changes do not go through the same review and approval process as policies
    • Procedures that impact multiple units may need additional review and feedback before being implemented

Guidance:

  • Provides a framework within which to implement policies
  • Includes general statements, recommendations, instructions or best practices to achieve policy objectives
  • Can change based on the environment
  • Should be reviewed frequently

10. Engage Stakeholders

Step 10: Engage Stakeholders

The responsible office provides the draft policy, procedures and related documents to stakeholders (including vice presidents, deans and senior administration, as appropriate) who can offer a broad perspective on the content and application of the policy. After deliberating the feedback, the responsible office updates the draft policy and related documents.

Effective Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholders are those individuals/work areas who may affect or be affected by a university policy. Stakeholders are likely to have distinct needs and levels of involvement, often with diverse and possibly conflicting interests and concerns.

Stakeholder engagement is about including the relevant people at the right time and in the most appropriate manner. All university policies have stakeholders with varying degrees of influence, involvement and interest.

When executed effectively, stakeholder engagement can be used to:

  • Gather information
  • Obtain buy-in and ongoing support
  • Build trust
  • Improve communication
  • Enhance reputation
  • Lead to more equitable and sustainable decision-making
  • Support ownership of the policy

When identifying stakeholders, it is important to think broadly to ensure all relevant stakeholders are recognized. Consider the following:

  • Who is responsible for the policy
  • Who is responsible for implementing the policy
  • Who are the key representatives for those affected by the policy
  • Why would a stakeholder want to engage in the policy process

Stakeholder engagement is an iterative process and should occur throughout policy development.

Stakeholder engagement is most effective when:

  • Stakeholders recognize the mutual benefits of collaboration, for example, enhanced outcomes
  • Early input and ongoing involvement in policy development ensure that the policy meets all needs rather than late engagement which can adversely impact time lines, implementation and working relationships
  • Policy development is informed by practical needs (e.g., streamlining processes, enhancing administrative efficiencies and effectiveness)
  • Stakeholders participate to identify and assess the operational impact and resource burden that implementation of the policy will place on units
  • The method and time allowed for consultation is appropriate to the complexity and sensitivity of the policy

Some individuals may find it difficult to engage or circumstances may hinder them from fully contributing to the policy development process because of a lack of time or gaps in knowledge. However, it is important that the right people participate in the policy development process. Every stakeholder's perspective is valuable and will inform the end result.

11. Collaborate With POE and PRG

Step 11: Obtain Feedback From the Policy and Operational Excellence Office and Policy Review Group

Policy and Operational Excellence Office

The responsible office forwards the draft policy, procedures and related documents to Policy and Operational Excellence (POE). POE reviews the draft for clarity, coherence, structure, format, expression and other editorial aspects.

Policy Review Group

Subject matter experts and other members of the responsible office attend the Policy Review Group (PRG) meeting to discuss the policy, procedures and related documents and respond to questions. The PRG reviews the draft for understandability, practicality, implementability and potential impact.

The responsible office considers feedback, researches questions, and revises the draft policy, procedures, and related documents, as appropriate.

12. Post For 30-Day Review

Step 12: Post For 30-Day Review

The responsible office revises the policy based on feedback from the Policy Review Group. Policy and Operational Excellence posts the revised draft in 30-Day Review, an opportunity for the campus community to review and comment on new and revised policies. The responsible office considers the feedback received and revises the draft policy, as appropriate.

13. Obtain Legal Approval

Step 13: Obtain Final Legal Approval

Policy and Operational Excellence forwards the final policy draft to university legal counsel for review and makes any recommended revisions.

14. Obtain Presidential Approval

Step 14: Obtain Presidential Approval

Policy and Operational Excellence prepares the policy for presidential signature and forwards to the responsible executive.

The responsible executive signs the Presidential Signature Routing Slip and submits the final policy document to the president for approval.

The president reviews the final policy and upon approval, signs and returns it to Policy and Operational Excellence:

        Pamela Lojacono
        Policy and Operational Excellence
        420 Crofts Hall
        North Campus

15-16. Implement the Policy

Step 15: Communicate the New Policy

The effectiveness of a policy depends on the extent of its reach and how well it is understood and followed. A communication plan helps achieve these objectives.

Policy and Operational Excellence:

  • Publishes the approved policy in the UB Policy Library
  • Works with the responsible office to issue an announcement to the university community
  • Posts an announcement on the Administrative Services Gateway
  • Distributes an annual annoucement to all employees listing all new and revised policies in the past year

Policy announcements can be:

  • Distributed to various list servs (e.g., all employees; deans, directors, department heads; unit business officers; department specific)
  • Discussed at department staff meetings

Step 16: Conduct Education and Training

The responsible office:

  • Implements education and training activities to achieve compliance with the policy
  • Updates their website to include the:
    • Link to the policy
    • Procedures, guidance, forms and instructions related to the policy

17. Maintain the Policy

Step 17: Review the Policy

The responsible office reviews their policy every three years, or more frequently as circumstances require. A comprehensive policy review is needed to determine if:

  • The purpose and goal of the policy is still being met
  • There are any new mandates (e.g., state or federal law changes) that require a policy change
  • Changes have occurred in best practices, customer needs, university culture or social trends
  • Changes are needed to improve effectiveness or clarify the policy or procedures
  • The issue can be integrated with or addressed by other policies, rules or documents
  • Terminology, contact information, websites and related links are current and correct
  • The appropriate training and education is occurring
  • The policy is still needed

When changes are needed, the responsible office follows the process to revise a UB policy.

Contact an Expert

Pamela Lojacono

Policy and Operational Excellence

Phone: 716-645-6070

Email: plojacon@buffalo.edu

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