Compliance promises more benefits for your organization than just being on the right side of the law. As long as you comply with the different regulations, you can keep your business safe from the different business risks as well as keep customers and investors happy. At the very least, compliance will give you a competitive advantage, regardless of whether you are complying with industry-wide regulations or your internal policies.
With businesses having to meet multiple compliance requirements, it can be pretty easy for some of them to fall through the cracks. Sadly, ignorance is never an excuse for non-compliance, and such minor faults can be quite costly for your business. As long as you can build a strong compliance program, it will be easy to avoid such mistakes.
Here is how to build a great compliance program:
Create A Compliance Department
Having a compliance department that is headed by a compliance officer ensures that the different compliance roles aren’t ignored within the organization. The officer should delegate compliance roles and send reminders if need be. They will also help create reports and spearhead internal audits.
Ideally, ensuring that the officer reports to the C-suite executives, instead of other departmental leaders, is essential to avoid the conflict of interest. The department should also be supported by a compliance committee that has a specific set of responsibilities. Other than focusing on quality assurance, the committee should also help with compliance risk monitoring.
Write Down The Compliance Policies
Written down policies provide real-time training to employees when they are unsure of what needs to be done. Ideally, the documents should outline the intricate details of what is expected from the different stakeholders. This includes the processes, procedures, governance structure, and how reporting practices.
It should also outline the different types of compliance you should be following and the right way about it. For instance, it can include HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS requirements. Ensuring that these policies are within reach of employees is essential for the success of your compliance program. Unlike organizations that place them in the compliance officer’s office or a limited-access site, your business should place them in your intranet or anywhere else where employees can access it pretty easy.
Be sure to create a single document for the different compliance needs. Other than making it easy to provide this document when auditors ask for it, using a single document makes updating your policies straightforward. Ideally, you should review your compliance policies annually and update them when necessary- be sure to archive the past versions.
Focus On Employee Training
Your compliance program is as strong as your weakest link. In case your employees miss even a single compliance requirement, you risk costly fines, not to mention, the risk of a security breach. In a world where 90% of data breaches can be linked to human error, effective training is essential.
Ideally, you need to create a training program that fits both new employees and current ones. By the end of the training, they should understand the roles that they play and how to improve compliance. However, the method you choose for training is equally as important as the training message itself. Methods that ensure optimal engagement during the training sessions, such as gamification and micro-learning, are the best way to make the training effective. You should review your training modules regularly and update them to improve their effectiveness.
Focus On Risk Management
New compliance risks are bound to arise from time to time. For instance, if your business branches out to Europe, you risk failing to comply with the GDPR. With a risk management program, you can identify such risks from miles away.
Risk management also helps you to identify the best ways to use your limited organizational resources to invest in the right tools. You can rank the different risks and identify the best ways to treat them as well as the risks to avoid. Including it as part of your compliance process can help in assessing and updating your policies to match your needs.
Exercise Due Diligence With Third Parties
While you might work overtime to ensure the compliance of your business, working with non-complaint vendors can be a huge risk. In some regulations like the PCI DSS, it is compulsory to work with compliant regulators. Otherwise, you risk being fined for non-compliance. That aside, the fact that these non-compliant vendors have access to your data exposes your business to a vulnerability.
A cybercriminal can easily access your data through the vendor’s system. Put potential vendors under a microscope to ensure that they are compliant. Also, asking for regular reports on their compliance status is essential. Working with compliant vendors can not only create a strong security posture for you but also make your business attractive to both customers and investors.
Compliance should never be taken lightly, and having a compliance program in place reduces the chances of errors. As long as you can create a compliance-oriented culture, following the program will be pretty easy. Focus on the aspect above to give your business a competitive advantage.