Every business needs to have a conflict of interest management system in place to protect itself and its brand image, regardless of the size or type of organization. Consistent policies about conflict of interest can help your business avoid trouble with your employees and clients, as well as legal penalties and bad press. But without the proper framework to support that policy, you’re at risk of conflict of interest management issues, like employee dissatisfaction and mishandling of conflicts of interest with clients, customers, or vendors.
If you’re in charge of your own business, it is up to you to decide how you manage conflicts. The most effective way to do this is by creating a conflict of interest management system in your business. Here are five tips to help you make an effective conflict of interest management system within your organization.
Tip #1: Keep It Simple
A conflict of interest management system can be as simple or complicated as you make it. If employees are required to fill out a complicated conflict of interest form, they won’t use it. It is crucial to find the right balance between complexity and convenience. Creating a conflict of interest management system that is too complicated will deter people from using the system and create confusion.
Your conflict of interest management system should be kept simple to encourage more people to use it. Keeping your conflict of interest management system simple doesn’t mean making it too basic, but rather ensuring that you have all the necessary information on hand and that the process is straightforward and easy to understand.
Tip# 2: Include Measures to Prevent Bottlenecks
Often, organizations lack a streamlined process for managing conflicts of interest, leading to bottlenecks in the system. Bottlenecks are the bane of any business, and they can be especially harmful when it comes to conflict of interest management. Bottlenecks slow down the process, so you need to make sure there are multiple people involved in the process. If one person is responsible for handling all conflicts and cannot do their job due to a lack of resources or time, that’s a bottleneck.
Having redundancies in your COI process can help you avoid bottlenecks and ensure that the process doesn’t get stuck in one person’s inbox. It is important to have multiple people involved in the COI management process so that no one person is responsible for ensuring that conflicts are managed effectively. Another simple way to avoid bottlenecks in the disclosure process is to send automatic reminders to the stakeholders involved.
Tip #3: Ensure Your Conflict of Interest Management System is Transparent
There are a couple of reasons why making the conflict of interest process as transparent as possible is essential. First, it ensures that the process is followed properly by everyone involved. This can help avoid any misunderstandings or problems with understanding compliance requirements. Second, being transparent helps build trust in your employees and business partners. When they know what’s happening, they won’t be suspicious or feel they need to keep secrets from each other or their management team.
To help ensure complete transparency, make sure all employees are aware of the policy, trained on it, and understand how they should comply with it. If someone fails to abide by your conflict of interest regulations, they should know what will happen as a result (such as termination or some other disciplinary action). It’s also vital that every employee has access to this information at any time. Doing this will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Tip #4: Keep It Consistent
As you’re setting up your conflict of interest management system, it’s crucial to remember that consistency is key. An inconsistent conflict of interest management system creates confusion, wastes time, and increases the likelihood that someone will break a rule accidentally or intentionally because they don’t know the rules. You and your team members need to be consistent with how you handle conflicts of interest, both on an individual and a business level.
It’s also important to remember that the success of your conflict management system depends on both you and those involved with the business—whether clients or employees—to be consistent in how they apply it. The more consistent everyone is with their approach, the better off everyone will be because there won’t be room for mistakes or confusion about what should be done next.
Tip #5: Update Your System As Needed
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when implementing a COI system is failing to allow it to evolve as the business grows and changes. A stagnant COI is harmful. It can lead to confusion and miscommunication among employees who need clear instructions on how to handle potential issues.
It’s essential to keep your conflict of interest management system up-to-date, not only for its own sake but also because it will help you communicate clearly about conflicts. If your employees are aware of and familiar with the process, they’ll know what to do when a conflict arises. In addition, if you find that certain aspects of your process aren’t working as well as you’d like or aren’t producing results, change them! You should be able to review your COI management system regularly and make changes as needed.
(Bonus) Tip #6: Let Someone Else Give You the COI Tools.
Implementing a conflict of interest management system in your business can help you avoid costly lawsuits, fines, and negative publicity. However, it can also be a lot of work, and if you’re not careful, it can be challenging to maintain. Thankfully, you don’t have to do COI the old fashioned way with questionnaires made in Microsoft Word and reporting done in spreadsheets.
At ComplianceBridge, we’ve learned how to make COI disclosure a fast, painless process. Our COI management software is easy to set up and administrate and priced at a very affordable rate. As you prepare your COI process with ComplianceBridge, we will work closely with you to onboard, providing you with tools to minimize time spent and eliminating headaches associated with implementing COI for your company. Are you ready to discover a better way to manage your conflicts of interest? Request a demo with ComplianceBridge today!