The Ultimate Compliance Management Guide for a Risk-Free Business
Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Owen McGab Enaohwo
Access to your network is denied. It’s been almost 24 hours, and your IT department hasn’t been able to restore access.
You receive an email that confirms your fears. The sender demands millions of dollars from you if you want to regain access to your system. They threaten to expose your sensitive data, including the personal information of your customers, if you don’t cooperate.
If they execute their threat, that’ll be the end of your business. All your years of hard work will go down the drain. Even if you do pay, there’s no guarantee that they’ll restore your network to you without causing any damages.
Cybersecurity is a compliance requirement in your industry, but you dropped the ball due to a lack of effective compliance management. Don’t wait until the chips are down to do the right thing.
In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about compliance management to protect your business from severe risks.
Compliance Management Guide – Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What is Compliance Management?
In the absence of law, rules, or regulations to checkmate human activities, things are bound to go awry.
It’s no exception in business. If anything, laws are more important in this area because the products and services offered by organizations are consumed with great trust by people.
Corporate governance is an integral part of modern business—it ensures checks and balances, and holds organizations accountable for their operations. Although the products and services that these businesses offer are useful, the larger society for which they produce these items is more important. If their offerings will endanger people’s lives, privacy, or safety in any way, they won’t be accepted. It’s on this premise that compliance management thrives.
Compliance management is the process of adhering to the law, rules, and regulations governing your business. We can call it the voice of reasoning that keeps you in check. Whenever you want to go astray for any reason, it speaks to you and draws you right back on track.
Compliance management isn’t optional—it must be taken seriously. When you fail to do so, there are severe consequences. Unless you want to lose business, adhering to the operational guidelines in your industry is a given.
No one is above the law. Similarly, no one is above complying with the regulatory guidelines in their industry. Compliance management is for the collective good of everyone in society. If you go against the rules, you go against society.
Due to the sternness in implementing sanctions against defaulting businesses, there’s a tendency to think that compliance management is adversarial to business owners. But that isn’t the case. It might not look like it on the surface but compliance management helps your business to thrive better.
The laws guiding your operations are beneficial to your business too. When you follow them, your business thrives. Most importantly, you save lives.
There’s a reason why many people use products and services without checking their safety guidelines. Take edible products, for instance. People consume them without bothering to check their components. That’s because they are certain that whatever was used to make those items are safe for consumption. They aren’t far from the truth. Due to the strictness in making businesses compliant, they uphold safety standards.
If you don’t take compliance management seriously, you might be perceived as having little or no regard for human safety. That speaks volumes about you as a person and the values of your organization.
A compliance management system is a go-to place for all your compliance needs. An integrated system, it consists of your documented policies, procedures, processes, and other materials that you and your team need to be compliant with the regulations in your industry.
Compliance management gives employees a clear direction of their roles and responsibilities. Everyone knows what they are expected to do. With the resources at their disposal, they get to it right away.
For a compliance management system to be effective, the following components have to be in place.
Board and Management Oversight
In a typical work environment, it’s the responsibility of the board of directors to oversee the development, implementation, and oversight of a compliance management system. However, the board can unanimously agree to appoint a compliance officer or manager to be in charge of the oversight.
As stakeholders, the board deliberates within itself to develop a set of guidelines for operational excellence in both internal and external activities. They have to create processes for effective auditing of internal and third-party compliance programs.
The compliance responsibilities of your board are very important. That’s because they’ll be evaluated by regulatory examiners during audits.
A compliance program is another core component of a CMS. Besides providing guidelines for monitoring compliance within your organization, an effective program enhances specific tasks such as employing onboarding and training.
The items contained in a compliance program include:
- Policies and Procedures: These are written documents on how employees can execute their tasks in line with the regulatory requirements. They also contain your compliance goals and the means to achieve those goals.
Your policies and procedures should be reviewed annually to ensure that they conform to current practices and requirements.
- Training: Since employee performance is integral to organizational success, building efficiency through training is part of the compliance program.
The training program contains the best practices that should be adopted to get employees up to speed with their duties without wasting time and resources.
- Continuous Monitoring: Loopholes may arise in your compliance management system over time, and they could go unchecked if you don’t pay attention.
When you monitor your policies, procedures, processes, and training programs continuously, you pick up lapses and devise ways to improve them for better performance.
A compliance audit gives you an objective analysis of your organization’s alignment to its internal policies and procedures. Performed by a third-party organization, it examines all areas of your operations. Since the audit is done by external parties, they are more likely to discover gaps that you and your team may miss due to your familiarity with your compliance management system.
Compliance management would make more sense if you understood its importance to your business. That information is contained in the next chapter where we discuss why you need compliance management.
Chapter 2: Why Compliance Management Matters
As a business, you either adhere to the regulations in your field or close shop. It’s that serious. But implementing compliance management just because you are forced to isn’t a good approach. With that attitude, you may not make the most of it.
The most successful businesses have cultivated compliance as a culture. Since it’s a way of life for them, its good tidings have a ripple effect across their operations.
So, what do you stand to gain from having an effective compliance management system?
Reduction of Legal Risks
Laws exist to protect people and properties in society. Being on the receiving end of a legal action indicates that something is amiss.
Apart from getting warnings or actions from regulatory agencies, you could suffer lawsuits by private individuals if you aren’t compliant. The cost of these lawsuits and settlements will affect your finances and may hinder your operations in the long run.
Win Customer Trust
No customer in their right senses wants to associate with a business that’s involved in one legal suit or another over compliance issues. Meeting all the regulatory requirements in your field is worthy of commendation. Not only does it show that you are law-abiding, it tells your customers that you value their safety. They feel more comfortable doing business with you knowing that they are in safe hands.
Engage With Your Employees
Employees are big players in your compliance management because they execute the day-to-day tasks in your business. A compliance breach may occur when employees make mistakes in their jobs, so you need effective compliance management to guide them. Compliance management empowers team members with the information and resources that they need to steer clear of operational errors. With the right system in place, you can rest assured that your team won’t drop the ball.
Improve Your Reputation
Building a good reputation is a long-term investment. Having worked so hard to make a name for yourself, you don’t want to lose it to carelessness.
Compliance speaks volumes about your values as a business. Since compliance management is for the greater good of society, not taking it seriously indicates a lack of support for the good of society. Once members of the public get wind of this position of yours, they probably won’t want to be affiliated with your business.
Every compliance effort you make is an opportunity for great public relations (PR). Telling your audience about all the things you are doing to create a safer environment for them is a great strategy for improving your reputation.
Compliance brings about orderliness—you know what to do and how to do it. In the absence of compliance, you’ll be doing just about anything that seems right. In the end, you’ll waste time and resources since most of those activities will be unproductive.
As stated earlier, servicing lawsuits and settlements are costly. You could save money spent on those with a compliance management system.
Compliance management means different things to different people. Its significance is measured by how it affects the interests of concerned parties.
The decision-makers in an organization implement compliance management to position their business to compete favorably in the market. They acknowledge the need to align with the regulatory requirements and engage the services of experts such as lawyers and business consultants to evaluate their operations. These professionals advise them on how to prevent compliance risks.
It’s a different story for the management of a business. For this category of people, compliance management is about having the right policies and procedures to enhance their operations. They want to create a safe and conducive environment for their employees to thrive. This operates on the premise that, when employees are well taken care of, the organization thrives.
The employees, also referred to as the end-users, have a different view of compliance management.
Implementing compliance management causes changes. Sometimes, these changes are major and affect the total operations. Employees have to unlearn the work ethics that they have operated by for years and doing that isn’t so easy. It’s common for employees to put some level of resistance against management when they implement compliance. In most cases, this is nothing personal. It’s up to management to de-escalate the situation by offering adequate training and onboarding to gradually bring its employees up to speed.
Since compliance management is about upholding regulatory requirements, who develops these requirements? There are established institutions with the mandate to create operational standards in different industries. In the next chapter, we talk about some compliance management frameworks and how they operate.
Chapter 3: What is a Compliance Management Framework?
Times are changing and so are the rules of engagement in society. As society evolves, old laws become outdated. The laws didn’t necessarily lose their value—they just were no longer a fit for the new environment.
The same thing applies to compliance. Laws and regulations protecting human lives and property change from time to time. As they do, businesses are mandated to keep up or get left behind.
Compliance management is guided by the frameworks established by highly recognized regulatory bodies. While some of these frameworks apply to multiple industries, some of them are designed for specific industries.
Let’s take a look at some of the most recognized compliance management agencies.
The International Standards Organization (ISO)
The International Standards Organization (ISO) develops and publishes international standards for quality management and assurance. These standards are unanimously agreed by experts and offer businesses the best ways of running their operations.
ISO standards are famous for their efficiency. The prescribed processes and procedures take pride in being the most efficient and safest methods of executing duties or carrying out production in a given field.
The various ISO standards for different industries include quality management standards, environmental management standards, health and safety standards, food safety standards, and IT security standards.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent organization that regulates the transmission of electricity, oil, and natural gas across states. It has the power to review proposals targeted at building interstate natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.
As a regulatory agency, the FERC monitors and evaluates energy markets, regulates the sale and transmission of natural gas for resale in interstate commerce, enforces its regulatory requirements, examines environmental matters regarding hydroelectricity and natural gas projects.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established by Congress to ensure the safety of workers in healthy working conditions through a set of standards.
A part of the United States Department of Labor, OSHA offers training, education, assistance, and outreach to organizations to enhance the quality of their products and services.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focuses on safeguarding public health. It ensures the safety and security of consumables such as human and veterinary drugs, food supply, and biological products. Part of the FDA’s responsibility is to facilitate innovations in public health. It ensures that the best medical products are produced and made available to the masses at the safest and most affordable rates.
Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law of the United States that enforces the protection of sensitive and confidential health information of patients. It prohibits the disclosure of such information to third parties without the express consent of the patients. Other responsibilities of HIPAA include the reduction of healthcare fraud and abuse, and the implementation of high-quality standards for health information.
Compliance management and risk management are alike. Although both terms are often used interchangeably, they are different. Are you wondering how? Find out in the next chapter.
Chapter 4: What is the Difference Between Compliance Management and Risk Management?
When faced with a difficult situation in business, finding a solution is your major concern. But reaching for a solution in a state of confusion leaves you even more confused. The best solutions come from a place of calmness and understanding. You have to understand what you are dealing with and then take your time in identifying the way out.
You can resolve most business challenges with the right mindset. But more importantly, you can avoid them in the first place. And that’s what compliance and risk management are about. Both concepts help you to identify threats beforehand and prevent them from gaining momentum.
According to a data and behavioral science report, compliance and risk management are the two leading categories that senior executives are unprepared to address. It’s a given that compliance and risk management perform similar functions. But in the grand scheme of things, they are different.
As discussed earlier, compliance is the process of aligning to established standards, laws, or regulations in your industry. Risk management, on the other hand, is the process of identifying potential threats that can affect the operations, earnings, and reputation of your organization.
Risk management precedes compliance
When you manage risks effectively, you identify threats that could make your business noncompliant. Let’s break it down further.
Prescribed vs. Predictive
Compliance is prescribed in the sense that the requirements to prevent problems are identified and set for your organization.
Risk management is predictive. You don’t have the answers yet so you have to make predictions and forecasts of possible threats, and take action to prevent them from playing out.
Tactical vs. Strategic
Compliance is tactical—you know the result from the beginning. If you fail to comply, you’ll suffer litigation, reputation damage, inefficiency, and loss of customers.
Risk management is more strategic as it requires more thinking and planning. You have to consider different variables in your decisions to identify and avert threats. In most cases, you don’t know the magnitude of the damage that can occur so you make all efforts to prevent it.
A risk manager prevents and mitigates risks. They supervise all risk-related matters to ensure that an organization isn’t taken unawares by unsuspecting threats.
The job description of a risk manager includes the following:
- Create and implement risk policies and processes across the organization.
- Perform risk assessments to identify current risks and potential ones.
- Develop risk management and insurance budgets.
- Outline the risk-taking levels of the organization to prevent it from going overboard.
- Design business continuity strategies against limiting risks.
- Develop safety measures to protect the workers, clients, and stakeholders of the organization.
- Create risk awareness among the staff by providing adequate training and resources.
- Manage risk reporting to designated audiences.
The responsibilities of a compliance manager are similar to those of a risk manager. At the core, the compliance manager ensures that the organization operates by the industry requirements.
The job description of a compliance manager includes the following:
- Be abreast with current and emerging compliance requirements and specifications.
- Create compliance awareness among employees and stakeholders so they execute their duties accordingly.
- Design policies and procedures to facilitate compliance in the organization.
- Monitor the work of employees to ensure that they are following established compliance processes and procedures.
- Ensure that the organization acquires the necessary compliance certifications.
- Review compliance policies, processes, and procedures to align with the latest standards.
- Make provisions for training and other resources to empower employees with the necessary compliance skills.
Are you ready to begin your compliance management efforts? Time is of the essence. The earlier, the better. We have you covered on how to go about it in the next chapter.
Chapter 5: Getting Started With Compliance Management
Starting a new project can sometimes come with mixed feelings. You are excited about the prospects of what you want to achieve and skeptical about the uncertainty ahead. Beginning compliance management feels the same way. But as with most things, being equipped with the right information deduces your fears and makes you more confident in your efforts.
A lot of work has gone into preparing organizations like yours for the compliance management process. All you have to do is follow the outlined steps to get the results that you desire.
Carry Everyone Along
Although compliance management is the primary duty of the compliance manager, they alone can’t implement it. Compliance is everyone’s business. That’s because everyone, from top management to the most junior employees, plays one role or the other in the workflow.
Carrying everyone along begins with educating them on the importance of compliance management. Why does your organization need to be compliant? Explaining this to them makes them believe in the idea instead of doing it reluctantly.
Conduct a Risk Assessment
Compliance management is about avoiding risks that endanger human lives and property. Launching out without identifying these risks is a wild goose chase. An effective risk assessment brings existing and pending risks to your attention. While you have to resolve all the red flags, you need to address them based on their significance. Prioritize the most significant risks and treat them as a matter of urgency.
Conduct a Policy Audit
Compliance management isn’t a substitute for your company policy. The rules and regulations contained in your policy are significant. They shouldn’t be discarded but updated with your compliance efforts.
A discrepancy between your company policy and compliance requirements is an indication that something is amiss, and it’s most likely your policy. To avoid this, carry out a policy audit to ensure that it aligns with your compliance requirements. As you update your policies with your compliance efforts, you’ll find that your operations will improve.
Train Team Members
Your compliance management efforts won’t implement themselves. Provide the necessary training to your team members so they’ll have the skills to implement them.
Effective training begins with making employees understand the significance of the changes that have been made to their daily operations. If they believe that their old ways of doing things are better, they’ll see no reason why they should implement the new ways.
Empower your team members with the resources needed to implement your compliance requirements. This includes providing effective software to simplify their duties and automate repetitive tasks.
Establish a Review Process
Since compliance is always evolving, you need to review your process regularly to ensure that it aligns with the current standards. Keep your ears to the ground to be aware of emerging requirements and implement them in your policy during the review process. Otherwise, your credibility as a business becomes questionable.
What happens when employees don’t follow your compliance measures? If there are no consequences, rest assured that everyone will disregard them.
Set the tone for strict adherence by establishing penalties for defaulters. Don’t forget that compliance isn’t about you or your business but the society at large. If your team doesn’t comply with your compliance efforts, you’ll be penalized.
How do you want to implement compliance? You have to choose a suitable approach—one that’ll give you the desired outcome. There are two approaches to compliance: rigid and flexible.
In this case, you establish the compliance requirements and mandate everyone to follow them strictly. There’s no room for deviation, let alone defaulting. Team members are aware of the specifications of their tasks and do exactly as required.
Let’s take a look at the rigid approach in the restaurant business, for instance:
“The kitchen must be cleaned five times a day.”
“The kitchen must be kept clean at all times.”
The goal of both instructions is to keep the kitchen clean. The first instruction specifies the number of times the kitchen must be cleaned. It’s believed that, if the kitchen is cleaned five times a day, it won’t be dirty. The second instruction states that the kitchen must be clean at all times. It gives the employees the liberty to choose the number of times to clean the kitchen in a day for it to be clean.
There’s a tendency for the first instruction to keep the kitchen clean more than the second instruction. That’s because the employees may get reluctant or lazy about cleaning the kitchen all the time.
The rigid approach is quite effective as it leaves no room for noncompliance. Since everyone is following the instructions down to the T, things will hardly go wrong. It’s often adopted by large corporations because they have so much at stake. A single legal case could cost them huge sums and ruin the reputation they have built over decades.
The flexible approach is the opposite of the rigid approach. As much as it enforces compliance, it leaves room for judgment calls and flexibility in executing compliance duties. It acknowledges that, sometimes there’s a need to make adjustments to get the best results.
In the flexibility approach, emphasis is placed on the destination (goal), not the journey (process). Employees have the liberty to make little adjustments as long as they achieve the compliance result.
Let’s see how the flexible approach can play out at a logistics company, for instance.
The company policy states that:
“Deliveries are made within 24 hours.”
A customer comes to drop off an item for delivery. The sales representative checks the destination, and it’s about 26 hours away in the best traffic condition. Rather than turn down the order, she informs the customer about it, and the customer agrees to the delivery. She gets the written consent of the customer and processes the delivery.
In the above situation, the sales representative had to make slight adjustments to the compliance requirement, given the circumstance. With the customer’s permission, she got one more business done for the company. In the end, the company won.
As you go about your business operations, there’s a tendency for compliance risks to arise. How can you mitigate them? Check it out in the next chapter.
Chapter 6: How to Mitigate Compliance Risks
Regulatory information is constantly changing to meet the demands of an evolving society. Keeping up with the flow can be tasking. As a business owner, you have no excuse, especially as other businesses are rising to the occasion.
Adopting a systematic approach to mitigating compliance risk makes it less demanding. Instead of jumping around at the slightest alarm, you have a routine for checkmating compliance risks.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you mitigate compliance risks:
Assess Risks Thoroughly
It’s almost impossible to resolve a risk when you don’t understand it. Launching your compliance mitigation efforts with a risk assessment gives you a comprehensive idea of what you are dealing with. With all the relevant information at your disposal, you can come up with the most efficient strategies for mitigation.
Although risk assessment isn’t one-size-fits-all, adopting a scientific approach helps you to track your efforts and replicate them if you are satisfied with the results.
Understand Latest Enforcement Requirements
Since compliance is an offshoot of the regulatory requirements in your industry, you need to understand the latest requirements in all areas that concern you. These areas include quality control, data protection, safety standards, etc.
Even if you are doing the right thing, if it doesn’t represent the established policies and procedures, it doesn’t apply.
Cultivate a Compliance Culture
Yes, compliance is a regulatory mandate. But when you approach it like you are forced to, you don’t enjoy its benefits to the maximum.
To effectively manage compliance risks, you must move beyond ticking the boxes to making it an organizational culture. As much as you are obligated to do it, learn to do it because you acknowledge its importance to you, your customers, and society at large.
Rather than forcing your employees or team members to execute their tasks using your compliance policies, processes and procedures, make them understand why doing so is important. When compliance is a culture across your organization, it’s easier to detect potential risks.
Encourage Team Members to Participate
Successful compliance management is a collective effort of everyone. When your organization suffers compliance risks even after making provisions for compliance, someone on your team dropped the ball. Unless there’s a way of figuring out who did it, you may never know.
When you create an enabling environment for team members to make contributions and speak up freely, they hold each other accountable and raise an alarm when they notice misconduct. Mitigating compliance risks becomes the responsibility of the entire team and not just the compliance manager.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
There are many moving pieces in compliance management. If you aren’t careful, you might spend the whole of your time executing compliance-related tasks, and you won’t have time for other business activities.
Instead of adding repetitive and mundane tasks to your to-do list, implement the right automation tools to take care of them. Save the time wasted on activities such as getting people to sign documents or make approvals by automating the process. By doing so, everyone gets the chance to focus on more engaging tasks.
Review and Update Your Compliance Strategies
To effectively mitigate compliance risks, you have to continuously check the condition of your compliance efforts. That’s because some risks can spring out of the blue in the least expected areas, and new developments are always emerging.
Create a calendar for your review and updates. When there are any changes in the regulation, implement them in your next review circle without delay. You’ll find that your operations are constantly optimized for the best results.
One thing that has resonated in our discussion so far is that compliance management is necessary to maintain law and order in society. Compliance risks are a cause for concern because they lead to noncompliance and its consequences.
Some businesses fall victim to noncompliance due to ignorance. But as they say, ignorance isn’t an excuse. It’s your responsibility to be well-informed about the requirements of your business. In light of this, let’s examine the various types of compliance risks.
Corrupt and Illegal Practices
Corruption is deeply ingrained in society. Even the countries that appear to be very orderly suffer their own share of corruption.
To combat corruption, compliance charges organizations to not engage in any activities that’ll question their integrity. Bribery in any capacity is highly prohibited and has severe consequences.
In the US, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) condemns the bribing of political agents and foreign officials by companies. You’ll also be held liable if you do business with a third party found guilty of corruption, once it’s proven that you were aware of their corrupt activities.
Data is more or less a digital currency. Organizations have made a business of mining users’ data for their personal gains to the detriment of the owners.
Since compliance seeks the best interest of society at large, it protects consumer privacy by prohibiting companies from using users’ data without their permission.
In the defense of organizations, they need to collect and analyze consumer data to offer them better products and services. Compliance regulations acknowledge the need for this and make provisions for how such data can be collected and used. If you operate outside the accepted rules, you are setting yourself up for legal troubles.
Although there’s no federal data protection law in the US yet, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caters to the privacy needs of consumers.
Our safety as humans is threatened with the increasing industrial pollution of the environment. So it makes a lot of sense that some regulatory agencies are keen on ensuring that organizations abstain from environmental pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a watchman in this area. They have established rules and regulations for companies to preserve what’s left of the environment. For clarity, the agency classifies environmental concerns into two categories: human health and ecological impact.
Consumers deserve nothing but the best products and services. If you can’t offer high quality, you shouldn’t be in business in the first place.
The quality of products and services is important as it affects health. Low-quality offerings by companies have caused the loss of lives in the past, and regulatory bodies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission are working tirelessly to ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen again.
Apart from the huge financial penalties, your products or services can be recalled or banned for not adhering to quality compliance requirements.
Workplace Health and Safety
Since businesses cater to consumer needs, so much attention is paid to the consumers. There’s a tendency to neglect the employees who put in the work to make the products or services available.
Employee safety is just as important as consumer safety. If you can’t create a conducive environment for your workers, your customer satisfaction is questionable.
Regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforce laws to keep workers safe in the course of their duties.
If you have been in business for a while, you’ll agree that risks are inevitable. The impact of such risks depends on how you manage them.
One of the most challenging aspects of compliance management is risk prevention. If you can get rid of the red spots in your business, you’ll be in a better position to deliver great products or services.
With risk assessment, you can detect threats early enough and nip them in the bud before they become a problem.
Compliance management thrives on adequate data—that’s something you get from risk assessment. When you generate relevant information about the threats you are facing from your risk assessment, you can develop effective compliance strategies.
Risk assessment is the foundation of compliance management. When the data from your assessment is inaccurate, your compliance management efforts will have little or no impact.
Compliance management looks very promising, doesn’t it? Not to kill your excitement but it comes with several challenges. Being aware of the bottlenecks beforehand helps you to navigate through them successfully. Get more information about that in the next chapter.
Chapter 7: Challenges of Compliance Management
As a reactor to the laws and regulations of society, compliance requires you to always be on your toes. You are constantly looking out for the next regulation to align to so you aren’t found wanting. This can’t be easy.
Some of the most organized organizations struggle to keep up with compliance because it’s unpredictable and spontaneous.
A great way to face compliance challenges is to be proactive. Identify the roadblocks before you approach them, and devise ways to navigate them.
Here are some of the issues that you might encounter in your compliance efforts:
Compliance isn’t unanimous. Every business field or area has its own requirements, and you are mandated to meet all these individual requirements. So you are dealing with multiple silos and responding to any developments regarding them.
Due to the strictness in compliance, organizations follow the requirements of a particular niche. In the end, they have different facets that are so independent, it’s hard to tie all of them together in the workflow.
As tiring as the multiple silos are, you must understand that they come with the territory. Make integration part of your consideration in meeting compliance requirements. Figure out how to tie every new obligation to your workflow in the creation process so you aren’t stuck in the end.
Changes in Laws and Regulations
Laws and regulations are transient. As new regulations are enforced, you must discard the measures you have in place for the old ones to accommodate the new ones. Just when you are beginning to adapt to the new terrain, more changes come up.
Changes made to the regulatory requirements in one area may contradict the requirements in another area. Since you are expected to abide by all the requirements, you might become confused about what to do.
A power shift in government also affects the compliance landscape as the new government may want to do things differently. While this is inconvenient and leads to regulation fatigue, you need to make provisions for such changes beforehand so you aren’t left behind.
The kinds of processes you have on the ground will either simplify your compliance efforts or make them more difficult. Once upon a time, manual processes were the standard in the workplace. But thanks to advancements in technology, processes are being enhanced with effective tools. The most difficult tasks are made easier with the right tools.
Managing your compliance processes and procedures with basic tools like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Excel, and others might seem like you are leveraging technology, but that’s the barest minimum. There are specialized tools that you can use to automate your compliance processes and simplify your tasks.
Compliance management requires the right human and technical assets. You may not have these available and may need to acquire them with your resources. Similarly, you need to acquire some regulatory certifications. And unless you get them, you aren’t compliant ready.
All these requirements take up a chunk of financial resources that some organizations may struggle to meet up with. It’s even more pressing for startups and other small businesses that are still trying to find their feet.
To cross this hassle, you need to make provisions for compliance expenditures in your budget just as you do for other expenditures that you consider important. View compliance as the necessity that it is, not a luxury.
Inadequate time is a major constraint in compliance management. Implementing developing regulations isn’t a matter of convenience but urgency. Unnecessary delays could lead to sanctions and a halt in your operations as you are deemed unfit for business.
Effectively managing your compliance efforts is also time-consuming. Someone has to keep track of all the moving pieces to ensure that they pan out as planned. The time devoted to this could affect your efficiency in your other responsibilities as your attention will be divided.
Appointing a compliance manager is key in overcoming time constraints. Since their primary duty is to ensure that your organization is compliant with the established rules and regulations, they’ll focus on that squarely.
Compliance has gone beyond manual operations. To get the most of it, you need software solutions. Check out the next chapter for more information about the importance of software in compliance management.
Chapter 8: Why You Need Compliance Management Software Solutions
Compliance management is a necessary burden. It demands operational excellence from you even if you aren’t willing to give it. And if you look at the brighter side, it isn’t so bad after all. At the end of the day, you reap the dividends.
Thanks to technological innovations, compliance isn’t as hectic as it would ordinarily be. The tasks that you would have performed manually can be done using software tailor made for that purpose.
Compliance management software are workflow tools that help you to streamline and automate your compliance tasks. Your administrative, management and operational activities are more organized and simplified with the use of the software.
Here are some benefits of adopting effective compliance software in your business.
Reduced Human Error
Hiring qualified and competent people is a prerequisite for high efficiency. When employees have the required skills needed for the job, they need little or no supervision and have a track record of excellence.
But humans are infallible. Sometimes, they make mistakes.
Employee errors at the workplace aren’t always an indication of incompetence, especially when those employees have a track record of delivering great results.
Sometimes, workers are exhausted or overwhelmed. And as a result of that, they make mistakes. They need a little help, and providing them with a workflow tool goes a long way.
Implementing compliance management software will help your team be more compliant. Complex tasks will be documented in the simplest forms for easy comprehension and execution.
Continuous improvement is a bedrock of business success. Improving existing policies, procedures, and processes calls for regular audits and evaluation. You are better off at this when you have accurate data of your business performance.
Compliance management software gives you data visibility. With the right systems, you can keep track of administrative, management, and operational activities.
Proper analysis and implementation of collected data give you insights into enhancing your performance.
Compliance management software is very effective with risk assessment. Rather than making bogus projections, you can work with the data at your disposal for accuracy.
Effective Team Collaboration
Activities in the workplace are collaborative by default. That’s because employees don’t work in isolation. They rely on each other directly or indirectly to get things done.
We have established that compliance isn’t the responsibility of only the compliance manager. All hands must be on deck to achieve your compliance goals.
The right compliance management software makes compliance fun and interesting. Carrying everyone along is easier with provisions for instant communication, the delegation of tasks, automated notifications for input, getting approvals, etc.
Team members are in the know of compliance developments and can share their opinions on the platform without physical meetings.
You want to know how your employees are engaging with your compliance policies, procedures, and processes, don’t you? It gets even more interesting to know the specific activities that team members execute.
Effective compliance management gives you all this information through data reporting. It helps you to hold team members accountable for their actions and inactions regarding their duties. There’s no hiding place for the lazy employee who hides under the shadows of others and does nothing.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
One of your primary goals for wanting to be compliant is to satisfy your customers. The more satisfied your customers are, the higher your ratings and recommendations.
When you streamline your business operations with compliance management software, you get rid of clogs that are in the way of delivering excellent services. Who are the beneficiaries of the services? Your customers. You can achieve customer satisfaction by simply closing the gaps in your operations.
Getting rid of redundant tasks with a workflow tool shortens the delivery time. It means that your customers won’t have to wait longer, and that’s a part of their satisfaction.
Having the right tools has a way of making the most difficult jobs easier. That’s because those tools take care of the complexities.
Many organizations struggle with compliance management even after spending a lot of money on acquiring compliance management software. You hear them complain about how compliance software makes no difference. But in the real sense, they made a wrong purchase.
As you go to the market to purchase a tool for your compliance, there are must-have features to look out for. With them in place, you’ll have a pleasant story to tell when asked about compliance management.
Here are some of the features:
Task management is a core feature of compliance management software because the whole process involves several tasks. You and your team members will be working on different projects together. You need a system that allows collaboration so you can manage your compliance policies, procedures, and processes all in one place.
Part of effective task management includes having team members make input without chasing them around. An effective tool has notification features that notify team members to come on board when their inputs are needed.
Manually tracking the activities of team members is a full-time job on its own; you spend all day trying to figure out who’s doing what. You don’t have to do all that policing, especially when you are working with adults and not kids.
Get yourself a compliance management tool that offers real-time status tracking. You receive information about your team’s activities on the go. It doesn’t matter whether you are physically present with them or not—their interaction with your compliance efforts is visible to you.
You may have multiple versions of a document for similar but different tasks. This allows you to deliver tasks based on the required specifications. There’s a tendency for employees to mix these documents up since they are similar. When the wrong document is used, the results won’t be the same, and that makes you non-compliant.
Choose a compliance management system that allows you to differentiate and identify the different versions of a document seamlessly. You should be able to figure out the particular one you need with just a few buttons to save you and your team the trouble of document misapplication.
Cybersecurity is a serious concern due to the increasing rate of cybercrimes. The security of your data should be a priority as you choose compliance management software. You must ensure that your business and customer data are secured.
Some compliance software offers on-premise storage while some offer cloud-based storage. In today’s remote-driven business terrain, cloud-based storage is preferable. But before making the purchase, confirm that the provider uses a credible platform that can’t be easily hacked.
Centralized Data Repository
Having all the information about your compliance management in one place saves you the stress of moving around in search of pieces of information.
When you multiply the few minutes spent looking for one file by the number of files you have to look for in different locations, you find that a lot of time is wasted, and that slows down your operations in the long run.
Get a compliance management system that is a central repository for everything you need. You may need to integrate other tools into the system to enhance your compliance efforts. So you want a tool that allows for integration; otherwise, you’ll be stranded.
Buyer’s remorse is common with compliance management software. After making a purchase, you realize that the system doesn’t meet your needs. You are stuck with an effective system, and that makes you agitated.
There are two major issues in compliance management software: requirements mismatch and unsecured data.
The whole essence of implementing compliance management is to meet the regulatory requirements in your business. Good software helps you achieve this. Acquiring one that falls short is a complete waste.
Compatibility is key in choosing the right tool for your business. A particular software might be effective in other businesses, but not effective in yours due to incompatibility. Before making a buying decision, ensure that the one you are going for meets your requirements.
A data breach can be an organization’s worst nightmare. It exposes your sensitive data and the personal information of your clients. While you are still grappling with the financial and reputation damage, you might be slammed with lawsuits by agitated clients.
If you can’t guarantee that a compliance software has adequate security, don’t sign up for it. When the chips are down, everyone will blame you for not doing due diligence.
Having a list of effective compliance management software to choose from saves you the stress of searching for one. Check out the top five compliance management software in the next chapter.
Chapter 9: Top Five Compliance Management Software
There are tons of compliance management tools on the market. Expectedly, each of them promises to be a perfect fit. Many buyers get to find out the truth the hard way. We don’t want you to experience that so we have compiled a list of some of the most effective ones on the market.
In no particular order, these are the top five compliance management software.
Workiva is a cloud-based compliance management software that enables organizations in banking, government, energy and utilities, investment, insurance, etc. to perform their operations in line with the regulations, policies, and processes in their industries. Suitable for businesses of all sizes, it offers custom features to cater to unique business needs.
The compliance features of Workiva include the following: control testing, archiving and retention, environmental compliance, audit trail, and version control.
SweetProcess helps businesses to streamline their business policies, procedures, and processes for better operations and alignment to their compliance requirements.
The cloud-based system simplifies complex processes with effective documentation, automates repetitive tasks, and facilitates collaboration.
SweetProcess’s compliance features include the following: process documentation, data capture, version history, real-time collaboration, and process maps.
Deltek Costpoint offers businesses innovations and greater intelligence in managing their compliance needs through its all-in-one system that cuts across the lifecycle of their projects. Businesses of all sizes can improve their operational efficiency by leveraging its integrated cloud offerings.
Deltek’s compliance features include the following: risk alerts, real-time updates, project visibility, expense management, and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.
BigID helps organizations to manage their compliance data in one place with data intelligence. It offers insights into data discovery, security, privacy, and governance so businesses can enhance their operations for added value.
With both on-premise and cloud-based storage to choose from, organizations get maximum visibility of their data for informed decision-making.
The compliance features of BigID include the following: data governance, data security, data privacy, data discovery, and data coverage.
Promapp is a compliance management software that helps businesses to improve their processes with simple process ownership and navigation tools.
A cloud-based system, it’s big on collaboration and automation for improved efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Promapp’s compliance features include the following: process maps and mapping, improvement module, personalized navigation, collaboration tools, and process costing.
SweetProcess is one of the software discussed above. We think you need to know more about it because we strongly believe that it’s the answer to your compliance needs, and we have evidence to show for it in the next chapter.
Chapter 10: How to Enhance Your Compliance Management With SweetProcess
SweetProcess is synonymous with results. Organizations looking to streamline their compliance management efforts get all the support they need for the job thanks to the compliance-focused features it provides.
The compliance management efforts of organizations were transformed by the sheer implementation of the software. Resolute Legal, a Canadian-based law firm, testifies to that. It was able to meet the strict regulatory requirements in its industry by streamlining its operations with SweetProcess. According to its founder, David Brannen, he doesn’t have to worry about his employees doing things the right way because they can access all the information they need in SweetProcess.
Let’s show you how SweetProcess can enhance your compliance management:
Document Procedures and Processes
Documentation is at the core of compliance management. Having collected the regulatory requirements in your business, you have to create policies, procedures, and processes to help you implement them.
Your documentation can either make or mar your compliance efforts. The goal is to communicate the information most comprehensively. If your documentation falls short of this, it’s ineffective. And that’s often the case when you document your information with manual tools.
SweetProcess offers a variety of documentation features that enables you to capture your compliance procedures and policies in an actionable way. Besides writing with texts, there’s provision for images, videos, graphs, charts, audio, and more.
Not sure of the format for your documentation? SweetProcess offers you some templates to choose from. You can begin your documentation right away with the template of your choice.
US-based salmon farming company Atlantic Sapphire was able to ensure that its team followed the regulatory requirements in producing healthy salmon by documenting its compliance policies, procedures, and processes effectively using SweetProcess.
Compliance loses its value without implementation. If you take your time to document your procedures and processes and they aren’t adopted by your team, it’s all a waste.
Policy implementation entails carrying everyone along. To do this, these policies have to be documented and made available to team members.
When people flout your compliance policies, their first excuse is that they aren’t aware of it. SweetProcess invalidates that excuse as it helps you to create and distribute your compliance policies to your employees. The policies are uploaded on the system for everyone’s access.
As changes arise in your regulatory requirements, you have to update your compliance policies accordingly. SweetProcess enables you to make updates in real-time. You can change affected areas of the document instead of discarding the entire policy and creating another one from scratch.
One of the objectives of compliance management is to enhance operations. It comes on the premise that identifying and resolving compliance risks enables your business to function better.
The individual tasks that make up your operations have to be well managed to keep the ball rolling smoothly. Task management is one of the strongest features of SweetProcess. Big on collaboration, it enables team members to work on projects with access to work materials simultaneously. You can assign tasks to specific team members and track their performance from inception to completion. Its notification feature informs and reminds team members about their obligations and new developments.
CEO at AEJuice Jacob Syrytsia was able to create some time from his very busy schedule to take a vacation with the implementation of SweetProcess. He didn’t have to always be on the ground to monitor his employees’ activities as the tool helped him with task management and automation.
Create Knowledge Base
Knowledge distribution is about the availability of information. When you make your compliance information accessible, it’s a given that concerned parties will become knowledgeable about being compliant.
Tribal knowledge is a challenge in many organizations. Select individuals are privy to some information due to several factors such as relationship, status, and experience. As a result of their knowledge level, they are more competent than others.
The company suffers from the knowledge imbalance when the more competent ones are indisposed for whatever reason.
SweetProcess enables you to set a level-playing field for everyone by creating a centralized knowledge base. Documents containing your policies, procedures, and processes are saved in a repository and can be accessed by anyone on your team. If they need any compliance-related information, they go get it from the system instead of getting help from other people.
Access control is a useful feature with the knowledge base. You can control who sees certain information by granting different access levels.
Australian brewing company Stone & Wood was able to implement the requirements of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) by using SweetProcess in its compliance efforts. With the certification, they have a competitive edge in the market.
Integration With Other Tools
No matter how effective a system is, it can’t cater to all your business needs. At some point, you‘ll need to adopt other tools for other compliance purposes.
To save time and resources, your best bet is to integrate your current compliance management software with other tools instead of having them separately.
SweetProcess allows you to integrate over one thousand apps into it and use them all in one place. It has a custom API that allows you to configure the apps into your system and use them without stress.
We could go on about how adopting SweetProcess will streamline your compliance efforts. But wouldn’t you rather see things for yourself? It’s easy to do that. SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial that enables you to use its amazing features for free. It gets even more interesting as you don’t need a credit card to sign up for the trial. At the end of the 14 days, you choose whether to stay or leave. It’s totally up to you to decide.
To wrap things up, we’ll like to show you some factors to consider in choosing the right compliance management software for your business in the next chapter.
Chapter 11: What Are Factors to Consider When Buying Compliance Management Software?
Are you ready to make the big purchase? Your excitement about adopting compliance management software in your business is in order.
We have talked about how the right tool makes the difference. But a tool can only be right for you when it meets your needs. Every business has its unique needs and may require specific features in compliance software. Nonetheless, there are common requirements that define the efficiency of a compliance tool.
Here are some key factors to consider in your purchase.
Can the tool help me to meet my compliance requirements? You can’t afford to ignore this question if you want to see desired results. A suitable tool must align with the regulatory frameworks in your industry; otherwise, it won’t be compatible.
Area of Specialization
Adaptability is a concern for implementing compliance software. Some of these tools are created for specific industries. While they may be effective in these industries, they may not be effective in others due to a mismatch. If you find a system that’s tailor made for your kind of business, that’s great. Otherwise, you are better off implementing generic software than one that’s meant for a different industry.
Data integrity is a priority for credible compliance software. Unsecured software is a dealbreaker. If you aren’t certain that your data will be properly protected, look elsewhere.
Your compliance data are too sensitive to be exposed to cybercriminals. A data breach can cost you your business so don’t risk it with software you can’t vouch for.
Integrating multiple systems to enhance your compliance management helps you to save costs and streamline your operations. Choose a system that you can integrate with customer relations management (CRM) software, human relationship management (HRM) software, trade systems, etc.
How will the system create a synergy between the various areas of your organization? An effective compliance management software enhances your overall operations. You are better off using one system that ties your different organizational silos into one instead of having multiple software.
The business terrain is volatile by default. Taking the necessary measures to prevent compliance risks is the least you can do to secure your interests.
Compliance management helps you to pick your battles. With an effective system, you can identify and resolve compliance risks before they escalate. By doing so, you are in a better position to tackle other business challenges that may spring out of the blue—talk about preparing for the rainy day.
If you spend all your time, energy, and resources dealing with the consequences of not being compliant, you won’t have the stamina to withstand the smallest business problems. You’ll be too stretched and exhausted to put up a resistance.
Let SweetProcess relieve you of the burden. It has helped many businesses to enhance their compliance efforts. Yours won’t be an exception. There’s no pressure to purchase it right away. Sign up for the 14-day free trial. If it doesn’t meet your needs, you can simply walk away. No credit card is required.