Why proper compliance management should be your top priority

Every organization must adhere to certain regulations to ensure that their business is being conducted ethically and safely. This includes everything from safeguarding consumer data and protecting whistleblowers to rooting out bribery and corruption.

The price for non-compliance can be extremely high, and most big businesses have entire compliance management departments dedicated to enforcing these regulations across the organization.



What is compliance management?

Compliance management is a catch-all name for the processes and tools businesses use to guarantee that all activities and employees are in compliance with regulations. These regulations can include external rules, such as international laws, and internal policies, such as union rules. One well-known regulation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed by the European Union (EU) and went into effect in 2018. Large fines have been imposed on companies which have violated the terms.

Many companies choose to invest in compliance management software to make it easier to catch and prevent compliance violations. Automating certain processes can reduce the risk of both expensive fines and damages to an organization’s reputation.

Such software tools can include anonymous, digital whistleblowing systems, time-keeping tools and automated approvals for spending and gifts.

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Types of compliance management

Compliance management can be divided into two main categories: corporate (internal) and regulatory (external).

Corporate compliance

Most businesses have their own codes of conduct and protocols that they wish to enforce. Maintaining a solid compliance framework can help organizations run a tight ship, detering internal conflicts and keeping high standards.

Here are some corporate compliance best practices:

  • Schedule regular internal audits
  • Conduct regular employee training
  • Keep track of and adhere to workplace industry standards

Regulatory compliance

There are many external regulations that businesses must comply with by law, including increasingly strict safety and data privacy laws. Properly registering your business is a good example of regulatory (external) compliance.

A few of the most common regulatory areas include:

  • Employment regulations (such as OSHA and FMLA)
  • Quality management regulations (such as ISO 9001)
  • Data and privacy compliance laws (such as GDPR, HIPAA and COPPA)

Different approaches to compliance management

Businesses can approach compliance management in two very different ways: rigidly or flexibly. Managers might choose one or the other depending on their management style, the particular circumstances or the regulations.

Rigid compliance management

The rigid approach generally does not deviate from the given rules, taking a strong stand against violations. This approach is best suited to large corporations that have put a considerable investment into formulating solid compliance policies, where it would be very inefficient to try to manage compliance issues on an individual basis. This approach might also be necessary in high-stakes environments, such as medical facilities, where failure to comply with regulations could be extremely harmful.

Flexible compliance management

There might not be much flexibility in the law, but some internal regulations function better with some versatility. Managers might decide that relaxing their compliance standards, so long as it doesn’t break any ethical or legal rules, can improve workflow in a given situation. This approach allows managers to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances. For instance, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses with flexible compliance standards were able to shift into new (and still evolving!) work schedules.

The benefits of compliance management

There are many arguments in favor of maintaining robust compliance management strategies, including how it:

  • Allows organizations to avoid expensive fines
  • Reduces the risk of negative publicity
  • Helps avoid conflicts between employees
  • Lessens the risks of industry suspensions and product recalls

As you can see from this list, the overall benefit of compliance management systems is that they help businesses avoid unpleasant – or even ruinous – circumstances.

Challenges of compliance management

Effective compliance management can look very different between businesses, but certain challenges are extremely common. A few things to keep in mind while planning your compliance strategy include:

Security regulations are shifting all the time

New advances in technology are happening at a breakneck pace, and digital security regulations must evolve to keep up. Organizations both big and small should always be ready for sudden changes in the law, with a dedicated manager who stays on top of any changes in regulation.

The modern workforce is increasingly remote

It can be extremely difficult for compliance managers to enforce regulations across a large, remote workforce. Savvy organizations may decide to invest in new software that improves transparency and oversight in order to maintain proper compliance.

Third-party services might have looser regulations

For organizations that work in tandem with consultants, suppliers, vendors or other third parties, aligning your compliance standards with theirs might seem daunting. One strategy is to notify all third parties that you require total alignment with your compliance standards and that you intend to collect evidence (with audit reports) from each of them.

Gray areas will arise

Sometimes, two or more regulations might come into conflict, and your compliance managers will have to make a call on which rule to follow. This situation can be mitigated by doing a thorough risk assessment of every option before making a choice.

5 tips for starting with compliance management

Introducing compliance management into your organization doesn’t have to be a headache, and following a few simple tips can greatly simplify this process.

1. Conduct a thorough risk assessment
Businesses should work to identify any potential failures in compliance. Assess what these failures might look like, how you’ll prevent them from happening and how you’ll correct them if they do occur.

2. Establish corporate policies and procedures
Compliance management cannot be done off the cuff. Clear corporate policies and procedures should be established early on and come from the top.

3. Communicate the plan and provide training
Help employees understand the importance of accuracy when it comes to complying with strict regulations. Employee training on this topic should be easy to understand and readily available, which might require additional accessibility tools and translations.

4. Plan for routine maintenance

Routine maintenance of a compliance management system requires many different things, including:

  • Keeping up to date on any relevant regulations
  • Making sure that all employees understand the requirements
  • Recording any violations that occur
  • Reviewing and updating processes and operations as needed

5. Schedule periodic compliance audits
If you work in an industry that is heavily regulated, then chances are you are no stranger to being audited. It’s good practice to perform regular internal audits as well, to stay ahead of any issues before they can lead to large fines (or worse).

Compliance management solutions

Compliance management is a high-stakes field, where penalties for failure range from simple to severe.

Businesses can minimize the risks by investing in sophisticated compliance management software, such as Author-it.

Author-it is an intelligent, authoring management and publishing management CCMS platform that allows businesses to create, manage and deliver compliance documentation that’s always accurate and on brand. Author-it’s intuitive interface and robust support for legacy documentation makes onboarding a breeze, no matter the size of your business.

Author-it’s powerful compliance solutions can help you document comprehensive policies and procedures making them accessible to all through content reuse, variants for different audiences, and multi-channel publishing.

To learn more about how Author-it’s compliance and policy management solutions can help you save time and mitigate risk, contact Author-it’s team of experts or request a demo.

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