How to Audit for Policy Compliance in the Enterprise

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on August 21, 2018

To mobilize a large workforce, enterprises rely heavily on policies and procedures that dictate how individuals should perform. This kind of documentation outlines everything from steps to creating a perfect latte to the proper response for an irate customer. Many policies are important to maintain quality of service, but don’t often make or break a company. That’s not the case in industries where lives are at stake such as healthcare, aviation, or law enforcement. In these environments, policies are essential to follow. So much so, that companies audit themselves and are audited by regulatory bodies for policy compliance.

In this article, we explore steps companies can take to streamline auditing for policy compliance.

What is compliance auditing?

The main objective a compliance audit is to assess the overall effectiveness of a business’s compliance practices and protocols. In other words, questioning how well a company is at disseminating information to ensure its employees are complying with all rules and regulations.

One of the best ways to check for compliance is for companies to issue policies and request employees to acknowledge when they have read the related documentation. That list of read and acknowledged policies is used by auditors to determine compliance.

“[Auditors] will want to see if all the employees in the company have read and acknowledged each policy,” says Brady Nelson, Director of Client Success at ComplianceBridge. “They will also want to see how policies have been modified and by who.”

Auditors use the ratio of compliant-to-noncompliant processes as the basis for determining a noncompliance percentage, which is then used to determine the outcome of the audit. The audit includes an assessment a business’s compliance program and its effectiveness. There are other transactional metrics that auditors can also use to determine noncompliance.

The importance of compliance auditing in identifying deficiencies

Compliance audits are also useful in identifying weaknesses in a compliance program. Problems like delivery and storage can be uncovered when an audit report shows that very few employees are even reading a policy document. And some policies can even be missed altogether due to ever-changing standards and regulations. In these fast-changing industries, a well-organized policy officer is essential in keeping each document up-to-date and delivered across the organization. Of course, not all roadblocks can be attributed to a policy officer.

An efficient filing system can help auditors determine whether approvers or other stakeholders responsible for verifying or adding content to new policies are slowing down a policy refresh.

Compliance auditing in large enterprises

Large enterprises must conduct regular audits to enforce compliance and to spot issues before they turn into problems. Audit reports provide an effectiveness assessment of the compliance program, in addition to suggestions and recommendations on how to improve the program. Good reports will fully describe each weakness and explanations on potential consequences.

“Policies can only work if they are compliant,” says Brady. “That means making sure policies reach personnel and are being adhered to.”

To help track these metrics, enterprises often employ an automated system to handle standard operation procedures (SOP). TotalCompliance, produced by ComplianceBridge, is an all-in-one policy content management system that supports distribution and tracking. The tracking features in TotalCompliance provide auditors with an array of reports assessable on a single policy compliance dashboard for one-click auditing. And with rich built-in collaborative tools such as version control, messaging, notifications, and reminders, policy authors are able to quickly update policies to meet auditor recommendations.

Interested in improving your compliance system to support regular internal and external audits for policy compliance? Reach out to ComplianceBridge today and ask for a demo.

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