8 Compliance Challenges & How to Solve Them
There has been a huge 45% increase in the cost of non-compliance since 2011.
Some of the biggest compliance challenges reported are assessments, control testing and implementing policy and process updates.
In this article we will look at how you can overcome some of the most common compliance challenges.
40% of compliance teams use basic productivity tools such as word processors and spreadsheets to run processes (source).
74% of organisations state that compliance is a burden (source).
Indirect costs, such as administrative fees, make up 40% of compliance costs. Direct costs, such as payments to auditors, represent 32% (source).
#1 Document understanding, not just tracking
Document tracking falls short with traditional read and delivered receipts that are offered with large email providers. While they confirm messages have been clicked or landed in an inbox, they don’t guarantee comprehension.
The alternative, getting physical signatures, introduces admin issues of reminders and the need to chase people to sign documents. However, you could implement digital signatures to alleviate these issues if you have a proper logging and tracking process to support it.
A better approach is to adopt some form of digital acknowledgement that requires input from the recipient to confirm they’ve understood, logging responses for transparency.
Going a step further, you could pair documents with mandatory questionnaires, giving you undeniable evidence of someone’s understanding.
#2 Using the Right communication channel
Communication channels are often an overlooked challenge in compliance, seen as a ‘means to an end’, however methods like email and paperwork can result in missed messages, misunderstandings or delays.
These traditional channels may lead to scattered information and hinder efficient communication across your team.
The remedy is to centralise all your important communications by implementing a robust process that enables management, creation, sending and tracking of any important documents from one place.
Centralising with a software solution for example, would allow you to keep contact information, documents, distribution and tracking all in one place, making audits or finding user-specific information, much easier.
#3 getting people caught up, quickly
Enforcing policies and procedures promptly can be critical to compliance, preventing regulatory issues and penalties. This is particularly true for industries which are regulation heavy and always changing, like aviation.
However, relying on manual methods can be time-consuming and prone to delays due to varying response times and the admin involved in overseeing the process.
Firstly, create distribution lists, this could be categories or groups. For example, a category would be a ‘document topic’ and all those who need to receive information about that topic are to be included in the list, i.e ‘Health & Safety’.
Groups would be more people-specific opposed to document-specific, for example ‘warehouse operatives’ or ‘office staff’, which would allow you to better manage communications with departments and give managers more ownership over their team’s compliance.
Secondly, set clear deadlines and give people a window for acknowledgement. Deadlines give people more accountability for their response. This not only ensures engagement but allows you to effectively transition through regulatory changes within your timelines.
This is achieved easier with software as you can leverage automatic reminders and notification of non-responders.
#4 Aligning Remote or Distributed Teams
Modern teams are more dispersed, there are increases in remote work, diversity in site locations and more international teams with varying time zones. Ensuring everyone is aligned with compliance becomes a bit of a puzzle.
Traditional methods struggle to bridge the gaps, leaving you with decentralised and inconsistent compliance.
For example, in the case of location it often falls on a manager at the location to deliver information, and managers themselves may deliver differently from location to location.
The only real remedy in these cases is to implement a digital solution as they aren’t bound by geography. This way information can be administered from a central location, ensuring everyone receives the same, from a single source of truth.
Cross-platform compatible systems are best for this as it’s hard to guarantee everyone is on the same tech. Ensure everyone can access the same information, from the same source, at different times, locations and on different devices.
#5 The big one, reporting and auditing
It goes without saying, auditing and reports are central to compliance. The default go-to is spreadsheets, but as things scale this can get difficult to manage as more moving parts enter the mix.
Pulling data for specific queries can be a challenge if information isn’t segmented and organised in such a way.
The key to mastering audits and reports is to refine how you are logging and organising data. In an ideal world, you should be able to pull reports for different combinations and queries, whether that be team specific, information specific, time specific and so on.
There are no shortcuts for this one, this will either require manpower or a software alternative. The downside to manpower, aside from the obvious issue of resources and time, is that data entry and reporting can be prone to mistakes, whereas pulling data from software will give you raw and accurate data.
#6 awareness, training and application
Another often overlooked challenge, is how policies, procedures and documents are used and interpreted by recipients. It’s generally assumed that people know what to do with the information you give them.
However, without clear guidance it’s easy for things to be misinterpreted and mishaps to occur.
You need to ensure your team not only gets the rulebook, but understand and apply it correctly too.
The best way to achieve this at scale is to incorporate mandatory comprehension questions. Quiz recipients on how information should be applied, and use case scenarios, to ensure your information is being digested in the intended way.
Adequate quizzing, reporting and investigation into knowledge or compliance gaps can help you identify and rectify any weak areas. Actively improve your compliance efforts and begin measuring how it’s received.
#7 Version Control
Daily handling of numerous documents by the average worker increases the risk of documents going missing, being stored incorrectly, or even being recreated because they are lost in the network.
For example, someone updates an important policy, saves it locally on their device, distributes it to staff, but fails to update the original on the shared admin network leaving other admins with an outdated copy.
The result is that sometimes outdated information is enforced, critical information is edited, and things snowball into misalignment.
Establish a ‘single source of truth’ – a centralised hub where the latest copies are uploaded to and distributed from.
Additionally, set renewal dates for any documents that might need refreshing in a certain timeframe. This way you can cross reference what has been sent, when the next renewal is, and confirm if the document you have is either up to date or outdated.
#8 Security and Confidentiality
Risking sensitive information through communication channels which you don’t have 100% control over can leave security gaps.
Imagine sending an envelope through a crowded room, hoping it reaches the right person. Chances are, it will probably reach its intended destination, but it will have to pass through a few hands to get there, and there’s no guarantee someone else didn’t peak at what’s inside.
When sending sensitive information, you need to make sure it’s not accessed by unintended individuals.
Emails and paper are both valid communication methods, but for sensitive documents it could be better to use them as vehicles for notification, rather than delivery of the information itself.
Using them this way you can keep all your sensitive information in a more secure platform, accessed by users as and when notified. Leverage emails and security by adopting a strategy that takes advantage of both.
Start tackling your Compliance challenges today
Take our system for a test drive completely free for 30 days and discover the benefits of Read & Sign. Cancel at any time.
Experience the full spectrum of capabilities without the cost. Try out additional functionality like our Questions module which is also free for 30 days. Activate module trials at any time.
Want to learn more?
Interested in learning more about Read & Sign? If you have any questions please get in touch.