Ask anyone about compliance and watch their reaction. A grimace here, a furrowed brow there, an uncomfortable shifting in the seat. Very few beaming smiles or relaxed postures. It seems the mere mention of the word instils universal dread and we know that many people lose sleep over the spectre of the ‘unknown unknowns’!
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can leverage the incredible automation technologies available today to super-charge your performance and start eliminating the unknown unknowns.
Too many organisations are still looking at compliance in the rear-view mirror. Managers are subjected to the dreaded annual survey – has the team done everything it should have done under this endless list of acts and regulations? The nagging doubts… have we?
It is easy to fall into the trap of confusing surveys or compliance audit and assurance processes with compliance management. This is compliance verification (at best – often it’s nothing more than box-ticking and blind faith) and that’s a very different thing to compliance management. In fact, compliance surveys can have a detrimental effect on your people and your organisation, causing a lot of stress, particularly where non-compliance issues are identified after the fact and staff feel that they don’t have the right tools and resources to manage compliance well.
Compliance verification is an important part of any compliance management system but it certainly shouldn’t be the driving part. The hard yards are done upfront – embedding compliance requirements into the organisation’s DNA and pro-actively managing them in the context of its day-to-day operations. Of course, it’s important to test that the system is working and verify that compliance is being met in order to satisfy the board, regulators and other stakeholders and to demonstrate that compliance. But compliance should be demonstrable at any given moment, not just the day after the annual survey.
It is key that the compliance management system is proportionate and appropriate to the organisation, its functions and its strategic objectives. As any lawyer will know, the volume of regulatory compliance requirements in the statutes is vast and almost impossible to keep up with without an army of lawyers focusing entirely on that (let alone the plethora of contractual and other non-statutory requirements that an organisation must also manage). Although finding a new obscure legal requirement may pass for great dinner party conversation amongst legal and compliance professionals (we need better work stories!), not all compliance requirements need to be treated equally. We’re not advocating that any compliance requirement is ignored, but we do advocate a risk-based approach that focusses attention on the most important requirements for the organisation. This avoids ‘compliance-fatigue’ and allocates the organisation’s precious resources – the time of its people – to the most important tasks.
But compliance management is only one element of an organisation’s broader governance, risk and compliance framework. These elements are managed together in GRC software solutions for a reason. They are intrinsically linked and integration of this information in itself can help to promote compliance by identifying gaps and ensuring the organisation’s policies and procedures are appropriately managing compliance risk.
And here’s the opportunity to super-charge performance even further. Don’t stop at governance, risk and compliance. Take all that information and integrate it with your organisation’s operational activities and strategic objectives. Liberate the information from head office registers and spreadsheets and balanced scorecards and embed it into the day-to-day operations of the organisation. Technology today enables unprecedented levels of automation, enabling the right information to be delivered to the right people at the right time, every time. By ensuring everyone knows what they need to do, by when, and having up-to-date information at their fingertips to get it done, you can empower operational teams to confidently manage compliance requirements, without the stress.
What’s more, this integrated and holistic view of the organisation completes the circle, enabling rapid identification and response to the impact of regulatory change on the organisation’s operations, and strategic goals.
We probably won’t completely eradicate the furrowed brows when compliance is mentioned, but comfort comes from having a GRC solution that does more than just tick the boxes.
Stop box-ticking. Start performance-boosting.