Organizational compliance is more than just ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements. It covers everything that poses potential risks to the business – from financial and security threats to the everyday procedures followed by various business functions (and third-party providers).
Depending on the size of your organization, this could mean hundreds, if not thousands, of different policies that need managing and reporting on, as part of an ongoing process. And to be effective in managing these processes, organizations need to invest in the right people and technology.
But having a compliance team, plan, and compliance management software in place isn’t enough. For organizations – especially at enterprise scale – the entire organization needs to be aware of and adherent to each of those policies.
So what exactly is compliance management, really? Why is it so important? And what role can technology play in making compliance easier to manage?
What is Compliance Management?
Broadly speaking, compliance management relates to the systems and processes an organization adopts to help reduce and mitigate business risk.
There are two types of compliance: regulatory and operational, which can be summarized as follows:
- Regulatory compliance relates to the external/industry standards and legislation set by regulatory bodies that an organization must adhere to in order to be seen as operating ‘legally’
- Operational compliance relates to the internal procedures, process, rules and other systems an organization has in place that gives structure to the way that it operates
Compliance managers, programs and processes are employed by organizations to manage relevant security controls and ensure compliance with these policies.
But the best compliance management practices go deeper than ensuring regulatory compliance, and include ensuring that employees are kept informed and attest to the latest policy changes, are up-to-date with relevant organizational procedures and training.
The 3 core aspects of compliance management are:
- Risk assessment – understanding what risks there are, the level of impact/threat they pose and what can be done to mitigate against them
- Policies and procedures – the measures put in place by an organization (or regulatory body) to ensure that risk is minimized or removed from a given process or task
- Audits & reporting – the tracking, measuring and analyzing of adherence to the relevant policies and procedures on an individual and organization-wide basis
Why is Compliance Management so important?
Regulatory compliance and risk management go hand-in-hand. Compliance management is an important area for organizations of all sizes, but especially so at enterprise scale where the number of employees and policies – and therefore potential risks that need to be managed, can be huge.
There are a variety of compliance issues that organizations may face, depending on their size, industry and location. Common issues include:
- Data privacy and security breaches
- Environmental regulations
- Health and safety regulations
- Labor and employment laws
- Anti-corruption laws
It’s also important to consider issues relating to compliance with internal policy and procedures which can often go under the radar as they can be difficult to track and monitor – especially if you have large numbers of off-site employees and/or need to ensure third-party compliance.
How can organizations address compliance issues?
An effective compliance management program covers everything from developing and implementing policies and procedures to conducting policy audits and risk assessments,
Although Compliance Managers are usually the ones tasked with ensuring effective measures are in place and holding overall responsibility for the delivery of their organization’s compliance program, individual employees can – and should be – held accountable if they choose not to comply with the relevant internal procedures and policies, or external/industry standards.
Compliance issues can be addressed in a number of ways, including:
- Educating employees on compliance by providing (access to) relevant, timely training
- Establishing a reporting system for compliance violations
- Improving the visibility of internal policies and procedures (and access to subject-matter experts where relevant)
- Taking disciplinary action when necessary in the face of non-compliance
The benefits of compliance management systems
Aside from the obvious benefits of reduced risk and improved safety and security, there are other numerous reasons that organizations should invest in effective compliance management systems and processes, most notably:
- Increased agility and business resilience
- Increased productivity as a result of saving time (and money) through more efficient use of (administrative) resources
Just as importantly, organizations that have good compliance management processes and systems in place often show signs of operational excellence and are also likely to have strong organizational cultures and employees that feel more empowered in their decision-making.
Compliance Management Software
One of the simplest ways an organization can make it easier to manage compliance – and overcome its compliance management challenges – is by implementing a compliance management system (and software)
Modern compliance management tools can help streamline compliance management in numerous ways, especially when it comes to the admin-heavy aspects of compliance program delivery.
- Developing and maintaining compliance policies and procedures
- Monitoring compliance with policies and procedures
- Identify and investigate any potential compliance issues
- Educating employees on compliance issues
- Conducting compliance audits and risk assessments
- Tracking and reporting on compliance violations
An effective compliance management system not only enables organizations to better meet regulatory standards and policies, but also provides a complete view of the organization’s compliance status, how future-proof it is in its ability to adapt to regulatory changes.
Compliance Management in 2023
Historically, managing compliance has meant lots of manual overheads and having to wrangle multiple platforms and tools. But as we move into the 5.0 era of Compliance Management, next-generation platforms are entering the market that makes things far more streamlined and efficient to manage.
This new breed of technology brings together suites of previously disparate tools to remove the time-consuming admin overheads relating to managing and maintaining compliance policies, procedures and training.
This makes it easier for individual employees to comply with business processes, regulatory policies and other security standards, while at the same time making it easier for Compliance Managers (and the broader Operations teams) to maintain a 360-degree view of how well the business as a whole is meeting its compliance requirements.
Ekko unifies compliance, competency and communication into a single, centralized system with fully-integrated learning, engagement and performance management tools.
Built to meet the challenges of highly-regulated industries that have large numbers of deskless workers (such as Healthcare, Energy/Utilities and Manufacturing), Ekko is an all-in-one policy, skills and training management system that saves time, reduces risk and increases business agility.
Standout features include:
- An AI-powered conversational knowledge bot that uses smart technology to help employees find the information they need faster
- Location-based nudges and QR codes that provide instant on-site access to relevant information at the click of a button
- Automatic tracking and audit trails that massively reduces time building manual reports
- Video recording and other knowledge-sharing capabilities to unlock subject expertise
- The ability to conduct digital risk assessments and surveys