Tuesday September 23, 2014
Running a business entails handling everything from developing products, creating sales strategies, employee training and handling customer/client service requests. Because there are so many things on which to focus, some businesses overlook the need for an effective compliance strategy. Compliance guidelines ensure companies act responsibly in key aspects of their business. It also keeps the company operating within all legal guidelines
There are a variety of factors that go into establishing an effective compliance strategy. It may take a lot of work and effort in the beginning, but once everyone in the company is following proper compliance procedures, it will become a natural part of the company's day-to-day business.
Here are some requirements needed when building a compliance strategy:
- Example: Those in management need to lead by example and have a strong commitment to ensure the company remains compliant.
- Evaluations: Check current operations and see where there are compliance issues already existing.
- Education: Lean about industry standards and areas where the business needs to remain compliant.
- Experience: Get outside help from experienced consultants, including lawyers, insurance companies and other service providers.
- Employees: All employees must be compliant from the moment they are hired.
- Establish a department: Set up a compliance department or team that focuses on issues, training and learning about changes in regulations.
After evaluating current operations and determining the areas where compliance issues exist, it is important to develop an action plan. Make a list with three categories – fully compliant, partially compliant and not compliant. Write down each area of business operations that need to be compliant under the appropriate category.
Start taking action on those areas listed under "not compliant" first. Determine which aspects are not within regulation and find out why. Write down what needs to be done to bring these areas up to compliant levels. Sometimes, not being compliant can be as simple as needing paperwork completed or having employees get recertified. Focus on brining all of these up-to-date.
Next, move onto those areas listed under "partially compliant." These should be areas that need only one or two things corrected to bring them up to par. Finally, areas listed under "fully compliant" can be set aside. However, this list should not be forgotten. It needs to be reevaluated regularly to ensure everything remains compliant.
Depending upon how much work needs to be done to bring everything up to the appropriate compliance levels, it could take some time. Determine when each item needs to be corrected and create a time table. It may be necessary to work a little bit on each area every day.
Once everything is brought up to a compliant level, it is important to keep a compliance calendar. This calendar should include when audits are scheduled, when a recertification needs to be completed, etc. It is also a good idea to regularly check everything to ensure nothing has fallen into the "not compliant" category. This can be done monthly or quarterly.
Compliance should be part of a business's day-to-day operations. Non-compliance can mean hefty fines or lawsuits if an adverse event should occur. Taking the time to ensure everything is in order will reduce the chances of having to pay fines and settlements.