Maintaining compliance with applicable regulations avoids legal liabilities and potential fines. This is especially true in highly regulated industries, such as investment and health care organizations.
Collaborate, Coordinate and Communicate
In order to ensure successful compliance, it is essential that every department shares information and works together to communicate about maintaining compliance with requirements. Be sure to involve the IT and HR department in all compliance processes and system. Avoid delegating compliance to a single manager or department. Current business practices involve a variety of departments that may not realize their impact on regulatory compliance. For instance, maintenance personnel may not realize that improperly disposing of chemicals and products, such as paint, may result in hefty environmental fines. Entry-level customer service reps may not realize that openly discussing confidential client information in public is wrong.
Management must clearly identify and define specific compliance measures and procedures. They must also decide on disciplinary actions that will result from failure to adhere to these standards. Ideally, management will publish expected work procedures in official job, safety or quality guidelines. Management must also determine whether these standards will be integrated enterprise-wide, or localized within select departments. Integration is important because redundant processes create mistakes and miscommunication. A centralized strategy that is acknowledged by all managers will be much more effective than separate, disparate measures. As businesses introduce new processes, they should carefully evaluate them and integrate them into existing compliance systems.
Regardless of whether business compliance processes are electronic or paper-based, management must be able to properly access and control information. Bear in mind that upper management is ultimately accountable for any missing data or documentation. External auditors often expect requested information to be provided within one to two days, so information management systems must be efficient and organized. Software systems are proven ways to integrate efforts, increase compliance tracking and reduce errors and redundancies. Many software programs provide customized reports that specifically address different compliance requirements. These reports act as helpful performance controls that can be integrated into internal audits. Software systems also expand reporting capabilities, checks and balances and process and workflow automation.
Concisely detailed documentation plays a central role in regulatory compliance. Social corporate responsibility lies at the heart of compliance. Duties must be defined and accountability must be established through comprehensive policies and procedures. Regulatory compliance policies should be considered to be living documents that must be continually reviewed, edited and updated. Auditing measures must be implemented to ensure that ethical guidelines and compliance requirements are followed. Regular internal audits that involve documentation reviews are the best ways to increase efficiency and transparency. One common mistake that many organizations make is creating processes and policies that document ideals instead of current realities. Being able to demonstrate continual improvement through documentation provides outside auditors with a well-defined picture of the company’s performance.
As a final note, management must establish and maintain proper privacy and security standards. This applies to both physical and digital security and privacy.