Policy Development Research

Let us suppose, that an organisation is faced with a problem that requires the development of a new policy. For example, the organisation may have received complaints from coaches of junior teams about interfering parents or perhaps there is difficulty with late payments of player registration fees.

It may also be that the problem has not occurred within the organisation yet. The organisation may have received advice from an industry peak body, from government or from another similar organisation that a specific problem has occurred elsewhere. We live in a world of constant change and there is always another issue or problem around the corner to make the job of administrating a sport organisation more difficult.

From whatever source the issue originates, the prudent course of action for the organisation is to develop policies and procedures that reduce or eliminate the threat that the problem or issue causes. But how is a policy made? Where do you start?

The first step is conduct some research. Here are some suggestions on how to gather information to make your policy workable.


Read, if possible, policy documents created by other organisations on the same topic

Whilst it may not be appropriate or fair to copy completely policies developed by other organisations, it may be quite reasonable to utilise them to develop an understanding of the topic, keywords and phrases and to obtain a picture of what is involved. For the inexperienced writer, it may be more than useful to gain an insight into how the policy document may be structured.

2 Research legislation on the Internet

Changes in legislation can create a need to create or amend policy. For example, the introduction of the Good and Services Tax (GST) has impacted on all sport and recreation organisations. Recent changes to the laws regarding Fringe Benefits Tax have also had an effect. There is a wealth of information on the Internet about legislation, not just tax but any legislation can be downloaded in full or viewed on a desk top personal computer.

Conduct a meeting

It is important to seek the assistance of others to analyse and define the problem. Unless the problem is defined well, it is difficult to find a solution. The meeting may be used to gather ideas from meeting participants about the nature of the issue or problem and how it might be solved. For instance, if the issue was about how to deal with misdemeanors of athletes while on way trips, then a meeting of coaches, managers and officials is likely to provide many suggestions.

4 Survey participants or a particular group of participants such as coaches

Conducting a survey of participant satisfaction may be one possible way to gain information for the development of a policy on event organisation or customer services. The survey may ask participants to provide views on what they feel is really important.
5 Read minutes of management committee meetings (if allowed)

Some organisations publish the minutes of their committee meetings or may allow them to be viewed by non-committee people. Minutes of management committee meetings often document the most important issues that the organisation faces. They may contain some detail of discussion about how issues may be solved. Minutes of meetings may be less fallible than individuals. They do not change from year-to-year or have memory lapses. For this reason, minutes are a historical record of the organisation and may provide excellent information for policy development.
6 Read other documents such as annual reports or event reports

Annual reports are another historical record of the organisation that may provide information about problems and issues that require policy development. Reports about events and programs that the organisation has conducted may provide opinions and views as to how they may be improved.
7 Read industry magazines and journals

With the more and more sport and recreation journals going on-line, there is considerable information about all kinds of policy issues on the Internet. Often articles provide many helpful suggestions about important issues that require sport and recreation organisations to update their policies. Government agencies for sport and recreation are good place to start looking for these journals.

Seek legal advice

The lack of policies, or policies that are inadequate can lead to legal action being taken against an organisation. Obtaining legal advice in the research phase and in the final approval of the policy may not be advisable but also necessary.


Consider researching policy templates

It may help to conduct an online search for policy templates. The contents of a policy template may give you ideas and prevent someting important being forgotten.

Click here for a policy template offered by this website.

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