New government regulation can dramatically change the landscape of entire industries. For smaller organizations, increased regulation may even cripple them into bankruptcy. During these periods of regulatory transitions, there is a very short window of time to modify your organization’s practices in order to remain compliant after new regulation has taken effect. How smoothly you are able to adapt during these transitions will depend largely on how well you’ve streamlined your policy enforcement and procedure management. Organizations that remain compliant during transition periods do so by following best practices and implementing strategies that keep their policies documented and their employees informed. Furthermore, it requires a watchful eye on the ever-shifting regulatory environment.
Read on to learn more about how to ensure compliance before, during and after a regulatory transition.
Best practices and strategies to maintain compliance during transitions
It is no secret that government compliance affects every type of organization, and especially those highly-regulated industries such as finance and healthcare. The financial sector in the United States, for example, is overseen by eight governmental bodies that introduce regulation to prevent abuses in the trade of securities. As events occur, such as the housing market crash in 2008, new regulations are often introduced to steer, stabilize and correct the market. Ironically, those same regulations that are intended to affect the guilty organizations often hurt smaller organizations the most. Increased compliance costs, additional training, third-party auditing, and new technology requirements are just the beginning of the costs involved during a regulatory transition. Smaller organizations that lack nimble policy enforcement and procedure management tools do not always have the compliance budget to survive these changes.
It is important to understand the cause and intent of regulatory changes before they happen. This requires a keen eye on behalf of policy managers. To keep updated on upcoming regulation, you might leverage the massive repository of information available on the legislative section of the congressional website. For an industry perspective, you might also follow trusted publications that make it their business to closely monitor legislative changes. These resources can certainly help save you time by sifting through the details of a regulatory shift and provide useful commentary on compliance.
Of course, understanding the scope of a regulatory change is only the first step. Distilling this information into new policies and procedures requires several key action items. Organizations should begin by identifying the requirements and consequences of the new regulation. You should determine the scope by which these regulations will affect your organization, and identify the internal departments that will be affected. To avoid policy proliferation, it will be important to recognize whether a new policy should be created or an existing policy should be modified. To discover more tips on the policy review process, considering downloading our eBook.
Ensuring policy enforcement may be even harder than understanding the scope of a regulatory change. Virtually all organizations recognize the difficult challenge of educating employees and verifying that the policy has been successfully adopted. You may not find it surprising that many organizations still use antiquated programs such as Microsoft Excel and Word to manage policies. Most policy managers understand thoroughly why Microsoft Office products are not an effective tool for policy management, however. Sharing documents between users, version and source management, process control and record keeping are only a few of the things these programs cannot perform. The resulting electronic paper trail can certainly overwhelm any policy manager, and the additional time required to correct this poor workflow may cause an organization to become uncompliant.
Compliance software aiding policy enforcement
According to a recent report, the two most significant policy management challenges are: keeping company policies up-to-date with new and changing regulations, and training employees on these policies. TotalCompliance®, from ComplianceBridge, is a cloud-based software solution that helps keep all data and policy information in one central location that is easy to locate, use, and share. You’ll have easy access to all your policies with clear indication of when each was last updated and who has had a chance to review it. Every time your organization is going through a transition period, you can create a new version of the policy and run it through all stakeholders for another round of reviews before publishing the updated version. Then, you can share the policy with employees and quiz for understanding.
One of the core functionalities of TotalCompliance is the ability to import and create policy and procedure documentation that can be quickly reviewed and approved by various stakeholders. Once each document passes through the appropriate checks, you can publish the final version and use the same platform to notify the respective members of the organization about its existence. TotalCompliance empowers the way you distribute information by helping you control what documentation is required viewing by members of each department. You can also track those employees who have viewed and acknowledged your policies and procedures. Built-in metrics and reporting tools enable you to gauge your compliance and spot areas requiring your attention. And instead of sending out dozens of individual e-mails, you have a powerful reminder system that automatically sends out regular messages and even escalates notifications on your behalf.
Want to learn how TotalCompliance can help keep your organization compliant during transition periods by improving the way you update your policies and train your employees? Take a tour.
- “How to: remain compliant with regulations during periods of change.” RSS. Accessed November 15, 2017. http://www.integrity-software.net/blog/how-to-remain-compliant-with-regulations-during-periods-of-change/.
- Marvin, Rob. “How Businesses Can Stay on Top of Changing Compliance Regulations.” PCMAG. July 21, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2017. https://www.pcmag.com/article/346229/how-businesses-can-stay-on-top-of-changing-compliance-regula.
- “Powerful Policy Management Software from ComplianceBridge.” ComplianceBridge. Accessed November 15, 2017. http://compliancebridge.com/products/policy-management-software/.