Numbering policy and procedure documents can be easy or difficult depending on how you ultimately decide on the numbering format. I use simple numbering as you will see below, but there are reasons to have a more complicated numbering system. I will give you the two options and you can decide.
Option 1: Simple system. First of all, I like to do a four or five digit numbering system for all policies and procedures. In other words, I don’t use a separate number for policies and then another for paperwork. Also, I like to use sequential numbering starting from a large number like 1000 or 10000. For example, if I have a Human Resources policy on Relocation, a second procedure on Purchase Requests, and a third policy on Forms Management, then the numbering system, based on a four-digit system, would be:
- 1000 – Relocation Policy
- 1001 – Purchase Request Procedure
- 1002 – Form Management
In some companies, I have given ranges like 1000 to 1200 for Corporate Policies and Procedures and 1201 to 1500 for Human Resources and so on. The problem with ranks is that there is a chance that a department might run out of numbers, which, by the way, happened to me once and has never happened again.
Option 2: Some policy and procedure writers use a more complex system to try to identify specific areas within departments. For example, a business might use a format like:
MF-RC-PE-1001 to represent the first procedure in the Reception Department within the Manufacturing Department. A policy may have the number MF-RC-PL-1002 where PL stands for policy. You get the picture.
I have to admit that I used this numbering format early in my career, but it is very difficult to maintain. And forget about keeping it when departments change names. For example, when Office Services becomes Administrative Services or when Engineering becomes Research and Development or when Office of the President becomes Corporate Offices. When this happens, your entire numbering system would have to change.
Summary: I prefer the four or five number numbering system because of its simplicity. The second option seems cumbersome to me, but some companies might find a good reason to use it. Which system you select is your choice, but all I recommend is doing a little research on how it will hold up over time in your business environment.