Increasingly clients (and their procurement departments) require their suppliers to have a suite of business policies in place in order to commission work.
A business policy is a set of rules that standardises how the company operates and does things, and what action the company will take in specific circumstances. They also demonstrate how your company complies with the law. A good policy is;
- Specific, simple and clear – easy to understand, consistent and unambiguous
- Inclusive and applies equally to everyone and all areas of the business
- Appropriate to that organisation
- Stable with clear action points – no ambiguity re. what needs to be done should an incident arise
For small businesses, writing and maintaining these policies can seem onerous and overly pedantic – but not only are many of the policies a good idea in principle, they may also be a ‘deal breaker’ for the commissioning client. It is often a good idea to have a policy in place, even if that policy does not directly apply to the small business – it allows clients to ‘tick the box’.
It also means that you can move through the procurement process and complete the various questionnaires required. Often designed without small businesses in mind, these questionnaires may ‘block’ progress if you tick ‘no’ to a question. For example, the requirement to have a Modern Slavery Act Statement only applies to large organisations (turnover of £36m+) but this author has been ‘rejected’ by a government automated procurement system for not having one in place despite clearly having a much lower turnover. Equally we have been asked to produce an employment policy despite not having (nor intending to have) any employees, a health and safety statement despite working from home etc.
Common required policies include;
- Business continuity policy
- Cyber/ information security and (often separately) data protection/ GDPR
- Environmental/ sustainability policy
- Customer service policy (inc. complaints and escalation procedure)
- Corporate social responsibility & ethical policy
- Equality and diversity policy
- Health and safety policy
- Quality policy
The ACAS website has various templates for policies, the Federation of Small business as well as government business sites are also good starting places. There are also other sources of help and guidelines;
Many ICG members are more than willing to share their own policies so if you do need something specific then ask on the egroup…