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Improving Digital Policy Workflows

Digital Policy: Impacting Time, Costs, Innovation, and Content Velocity

Digital policies can be intimidating or a dreaded slowdown in content workflows – having to rework material to pass review or meet regulations. With the proliferation of content consumption platforms beyond webpages and mobile combined with the complexity of off-shore market localization, providing sensible guidance for creation and release of digital assets is daunting at best.

To address the challenges and share fresh, new solutions for digital policy, Kristina Podnar joined Cruce Saunders for a podcast episode: Digital Policy: Powering Operations, Innovation, and Velocity. The resulting conversation explored the many power-ups and smart practices leading Digital Policy teams are implementing. Following is an overview of the episode and an exploration of some of the themes discussed.

Why digital policy matters

On her website, Kristina Podnar provides a goal: Capitalize on digital age opportunities and minimize risk to your business. As we learn, both parts of this goal can involve a lot of potential revenue.

Podnar maintains that digital policy will not remain a “niche” activity for much longer. She believes that it will become a part of what every enterprise considers when creating programs around customer communications, or any form of communication in the digital space. 

Because digital policy covers such a wide spectrum of things, Podnar advises thinking of it as “user-friendly” guard rails. Unlike authoritarian, top-down policies of the past, digital policy can create a safe space for you to create your assets. Ideally, these policies can be “baked in” within workflows and tools. This enables content producers to use simple guidelines, and create what is essentially “pre-vetted” content, which massively decrease time and budget for the approval processes. @kpodnar

Why structure matters

Digital policies provide the essential structure to achieve risk avoidance. In some cases, violation of international privacy policies can cost billions of dollars. Equally important is the fact that policy structure frees up staff, invigorates them, and the content creation function becomes more pleasant. When Podnar has helped implement effective digital policies that take place “where the work happens,” post-project surveys have revealed that staff have a higher sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. In one case, what we actually saw was an increase by threefold of satisfaction with content contributors in terms of their happiness in content creation processes.” @kpodnar

Speeding up decisions and approval processes

In the podcast episode, Podnar shares one particularly compelling use case. A major pharmaceutical company that she worked with saw big wins; implementing new digital policy procedures reduced approval cycles from 21-days to just three. @kpodnar In the life-or-death context of medical cures, the original three week cycle wasn’t sustainable. Podnar studied the process and discovered that product descriptions and content had to first go through legal, then branding, and then eventually be sanctioned with the localization group. Because content creators were not that aware of policies, they were creating partially invalid submissions that were rejected, revised and resubmitted. 

The solution was to implement digital policies that would appear as guidelines at key points during the workflow. Team members quickly came up to speed and were soon creating what was essentially “pre-vetted” submission content. As a result, the approval cycle dramatically dropped down from the magnitude of weeks to days. In cases of medical emergencies, that company is now able to turn around some submission approvals in only a single workday.


Who should manage digital policy?

Podnar has observed that 90% of the time, digital policies are owned by legal/regulatory compliance departments, which is good and bad. Good, in the sense that these people understand laws and regulations. Bad, in that these people do not understand digital marketing. This can create what are essentially “handcuffs” and it often leads to shelf-ware: guidance in the form of PDF on SharePoint that nobody wants to read. 

@kpodnar proposes that digital policy guidance can be delegated to what she calls “digital stewards.” She notes that which department stewards reside in is not as important as their knowledge and capabilities. 

Things are improving: Podnar is noticing that “digital natives” (people born after 1980) are starting to appear within legal departments. So there is a new type of lawyer who possesses a better grasp of the digital landscape. 

Reducing the complexity

All enterprises have to deal with highly complex privacy regulations. The European standard, GDPR, has 99 articles in it. This can be overwhelming to most people. Podnar studied all major privacy initiatives and determined that they encompassed eight basic practices.

The solution: to have a “generic” digital policy practices that addresses each of the eight major areas. @kpodnar The ultimate goal is to be able to apply a schema once in terms of privacy, not having to keep going into whiplash mode every time another US state implements their flavor of privacy or data ownership.

The Towards a Smarter World episode concludes with a sensible discussion of how to adjust to this new landscape where vendors can no longer just suck up massive data lakes and use it anyway that they wish. There are ways to capture data around “anonymous” potential customers, then identify 100 “will buy” customers vs. a shot in the dark approach at 1,000 potential customers.

Learn more

Listen to the full podcast on your favorite platform – or even try “Alexa, play Towards a Smarter World podcast.” And view the full-transcript here.

For an approachable deep-dive on digital policy, check out Kristina’s book: The Power of Digital Policy.
For even more insights on the world of intelligent content, check out the [A] Treasury of resources. Together we can take one step at a time, towards a smarter world. 
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