Enterprise Compliance Today

3 Strategic Benefits of Good Compliance Software

Posted by Greg Carroll on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

The right system enables an enterprise to be as prepared and quick as Winston Churchill

Part 2 of a series on the key criteria of director compliance performance (see Part 1)

 

compliance software

The secret is in getting the information to make decisions, knowing your resource availability, and having a strategic planning framework in place. Winston Churchill’s (pictured here on a 1965 stamp) renowned quick wit was the product of years of preparation of responses and then his ability to select the most appropriate one at the right moment.

I started our series on the key criteria of director compliance performance by looking at the low-hanging fruit: the elimination of delays, duplications and administrative handling. In this post, we start looking at the strategic benefits. They include being able to:

  1. Quickly respond to opportunities through cross-referenced information at management’s fingertips
  2. Use proactive risk management to avoid traps
  3. Use visibility-accountability, both up and down the management tree, to streamline processes and communication, leading to major paradigm shifts in business growth and productivity.

Let us look at each of these individually.

1. Anticipate and take advantage of new opportunities

As a dedicated disciple of Charles Ford’s book "Think Smart, Move Fast" I am a great believer that success is directly proportional to reaction time. Being first to market is always an advantage. I also subscribe to the adage that proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.

The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. The secret is in getting the information to make decisions, knowing your resource availability, and having a strategic planning framework in place. Winston Churchill’s renowned quick wit was the product of years of preparation of responses and then his ability to select the most appropriate one at the right moment.

A good compliance management system lets you quickly respond to opportunities by cross-referencing information from plans, histories and resources. It puts that information at operational management’s fingertips, along with up-to-date risk assessments, to enable them to react to threats and opportunities as they occur instead of in a post-mortem review. Fast Track leads in this field by:

  • Providing a governance module that manages and promotes the development of strategic and business planning, associating obligations and initiative to drive activity, and setting down milestones to ensure outcomes.
  • Integrating ISO31000 level proactive risk management, with real-time rollup to quickly identify the effects of commitment or change to events.
  • Cross referencing of documents to legislation, resources, historical activity, etc., all as a byproduct of day-to-day compliance activities.

2. Proactive risk management to avoid traps

One of my pet peeves is pedantic adherence to carrying out risk assessments. They usually get filed and forgotten, which makes them a waste of time. Worse, they give management a false sense of security that invariably leads to disaster. A risk assessment should be a living tool of a good manager, not a reporting item of a bureaucrat. It should be updated daily and reviewed at any change of circumstances. It should include well-thought-out mitigation and disaster recovery plans. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

A good compliance system must empower managers by providing a simple tool to review and manage risk assessments, enforcing review as circumstances change, without onerous administration requirements. Fast Track’s strength lies in:

  • Unlike traditional risk management systems, which are ostensibly recording (putting a tick in a process), Fast Track’s Risk Management module includes automatic reminders and follow-ups, KPI out-of-bounds alerts, and embedded reassessment in workflow steps. It becomes a true tool to manage risk.
  • An ability to set up risk templates and checklists. These guide staff through risk assessment and JSA activities on any task, ensuring proper implementation of risk management objectives.
  • An ability to sort and filter records on the screen and include archived data. This provides an interactive tool for troubleshooting root causes.
  • Neural network architecture that lets you start anywhere to trace a problem. With traditional systems, you need to know a particular place to start.

3. Improved accountability and visibility

Operational staff and management aren't the only ones who suffer from the “mushroom syndrome”. Although no one will admit to it, executive management generally suffers from the reverse lack of communication. When they have to rely on periodic reports that have been filtered through operational management, at best they are behind the curve in reacting to events.

A good compliance system needs to deliver real-time information both up and down the management tree without overburdening anyone with trivial detail. Don’t cc everyone. Escalate only if milestones aren’t met, or KPIs are out. Use the Harvard Business School principle of making work status internally public. If you want to buy in to a joint vision, include everyone in the journey. Fast Track opens an organization with:

  • Increased accountability and visibility through all levels of management with escalation of overdue tasks and automated management reporting.
  • Dashboards and traffic lighting to give real-time performance feedback to staff as well as management.
  • Automatic cross-referencing of people, processes, resources and activities to provide a greater understanding of cause and effect of events and decisions.
  • Harvesting reusable knowledge through lessons learned in the Knowledge Bank and through system reviews built into workflows processes.

There are still more strategic benefits. I'll look at some in my next post.

Tags: risk management, corporate governance, Compliance Management