Is there any way to do this? Work policy documentation question
June 21, 2022 8:06 AM   Subscribe

For work, I need to keep up with a vast number of tiny policy rules that change regularly and are often promulgated by email rather than added to our policy web pages. I am having trouble with this and I have an idea of what would help - see within.

What I'd like would be something I could update that would be easily searchable/sortable. So if I were looking for a covid policy, I could sort/search for "covid" and find my policy notes. I would also like this to be scrollable so that I can get a good overview of what I've got. It needs to be quick and easy to update, since I may be making multiple entries in a day.

Excel is not ideal since it's not really designed for typing in lots of information. Endnote is not ideal because it's not scrollable and it's also cumbersome to enter (at least in relation to "covid - cannot pay for PPE from X account" - I am going to have a lot of small policy notes but also some very large ones.)

Is there any way that you would recommend to do this? I have a Word document with a table, but it's cumbersome to update and I just tend not to.
posted by Frowner to Work & Money (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe one of the modern personal Wiki text editors, like Obsidian? It's free and on every OS. Search is fast (can do full-text or based on page title.)

They make linking between pages easy, too. So you could have a dated page for a policy rollout that links to each topic updated, and it will automatically link back to the date page from the topic page. It's a real time-saver for some things at my job.
posted by michaelh at 8:15 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]

posted by kevinbelt at 8:19 AM on June 21 [5 favorites]

Since you seem to have Office, OneNote is probably worth trying.
posted by ripley_ at 8:25 AM on June 21 [6 favorites]

I wonder if knowledgebase/wiki software will meet your need. You might give one a try. Plenty of the most common ones offer a free trial.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:28 AM on June 21

The law firm I work for does policy in this fashion. What I did was create a folder structure of policies in Outlook and filed them away manually. If I had to add notes, I would [Edit this Message] or Reply to the message, to myself, with my notes. Outlook (in its desktop version) has excellent search capabilities and keywords.
posted by MollyRealized at 9:02 AM on June 21

For my law school class notes, I type everything into one big Word document, and then hashtag each note with its topic so that I can do a control-F and quickly search the whole document for notes on that topic later. So if a new policy for Covid were to come up, I would just hashtag it #covid, and then control-F the document to bring up an ordered list of everything tagged #covid. Very low tech, but it works for me.
posted by rue72 at 9:16 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]

I am going to suggest either Google Docs or a master MS Word document.

MS Word documents can link to yet more MS Word Documents, and you can turn on change tracking to show history of how things changed on days X, Y, or Z. AND you can auto generate table of contents, indices, and so on if you use the styles properly (and thus, outlines properly). I'm pretty sure Google Docs can do something similar.
posted by kschang at 9:21 AM on June 21

Joplin is another open source notes app with tagging capability that would be worth a look, though I agree with the suggestion above to start with OneNote if you have it.
posted by veery at 12:50 PM on June 21

Question: do the policy updates ever make it back into the policy documents? How are new employees supposed to know what the policies are?
posted by TimHare at 10:55 PM on June 21

I think rue72's version with Word is good - tables in word get unwieldy, and just using styles for your headings will generate a table of contents easily. I do this, but with a text only file.

How do you want to share this? If it's just for your notes only, and you have a full list of all the policies, I would make a google form with a dropdown of the policies and whatever info you need to capture fields. Have it all go to a google sheet and then filter as necessary to see, e.g., all minor updates to Policy X when it's time to update Policy X's webpage. Put a bookmark to the form in your browser or desktop.

If you need to share a running searchable log of these minor changes and you guys use Office, then OneNote is great for this. Set up top tabs for major categories and then pages for each policy inside, plus tags for connecting (published? email? approved? to add next?) data. Then share the OneNote with other people.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:01 AM on June 22

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