What’s the future past COVID-19 for American businesses?
Of all the challenges that await you, the toughest one would be realigning your business with industry regulations.
How do you plan to deal with regulatory compliance, while prioritizing your business goals?
Complying with industry regulations is not optional
Even during emergencies, businesses must continue to follow industry regulations.
COVID-19 is not the first major disruption that our businesses have faced in the last few years. In 2017, hurricanes Harvey and Irma and in 2005 Katrina led to severe business disruptions. Since then, American businesses have been shifting away from the traditional compliance processes to online compliance management programs.
As more employees are being pushed to work from home, how do you plan to deal with regulatory compliance?
A moving shift towards online compliance management
Your organization too should consider switching to an online compliance management program. Such a shift would help make your compliance processes sounder by integrating the various components onto a single platform.
Here are the four components of a sound compliance process
- Well-developed policies and procedures
- A sound training program
- Active monitoring of procedural and training weaknesses
- Audit-friendly documentation system
Reading this article is recommended to both business managers and compliance officers. Regardless of your position in the organization, by the time you finish this article, you’ll have achieved clarity in terms of:
- How to reduce compliance costs
- How to reduce your chances of getting penalized by regulatory authorities
- How to streamline your compliance program
Benefits of online compliance management for business managers
Business managers can simplify the compliance process by managing all regulatory requirements in an integrated manner. The trick is to cut the number of steps involved in ensuring organization-wide compliance. Doing so with an online management system can improve productivity, lower compliance costs, but it would also reduce the time lag between responses, if a compliance issue gets pointed out by regulatory authorities.
Consider the following list of benefits of using an online compliance management program
1) Better Compliance oversight
Optimizing business processes and taking corrective actions are the heart of a compliance management program. An impossible task unless business managers have proper oversight over the entire process. Having an online compliance management program would let you define the direction of your compliance effort, test your organization in terms of your industry and the applicable regulations.
2) Avoid non-compliance fines and penalties
Non-compliance can actually break an organization, especially if yours is a small business, you need to be really careful. Advanced Care Hospitals (ACH) paid $500,000 in HIPAA fine in 2019 as they could not produce documents showing their HIPAA compliance efforts. In another such case, West Georgia Ambulance paid $65,000 in fine. The ambulance company neither had a security awareness training program, and nor had they implemented HIPAA policies and procedures.
3) Saves production hours
Loss of production hours remains the biggest hurdle in arranging compliance training programs. And, a major reason why employees remain unaware of compliance regulations.
Supervisors have to adjust shifts or send their teams to another location for a training session. All this comes at the cost of production hours.
Online training is a proven solution to this hurdle. Employees can be trained at their work location, eliminating the need for them to travel to training centers. Moreover, online training can be delivered to individual employees at hours such that the training does not interfere with production hours.
4) Saves training costs
If your workforce is distributed across multiple cities, or if most of them work in shifts, then bringing everyone together for a training session might be a major cost issue for you. Online compliance program is the ideal solution to your problem.
With an online learning management system, all employees can be trained at their work location. It can eliminate the need for the employees to travel for compliance training. Employees can take their training programs and read and sign company policies and procedures even while at work.
Similarly, your compliance officers can, assign, monitor and assess the entire compliance program from their offices – thus eliminating the need for them to travel to all work locations.
You can save thousands of dollars in travel costs and hotel expenses.
5) Smaller compliance and training staff
Another benefit of an online compliance management program is the reduction in the number of compliance and training personal required at every work location. The main benefit of having a large training team was to ensure timely training of the staff.
Every time industrial regulations get updated, a team of trainers has to be set to task. They must visit every location, train employees, distribute the new policies, and return carrying boxes filled with signed documents to the head office.
With an online compliance management program, trainers can hold such sessions from their offices only. Regulatory changes can be shared online, and employees alerted with an email.
You would save thousands of travel and hotel expenses dollars. Plus, a centralized system can be managed with a smaller staff. And, your compliance officer can manage your risks with relative ease.
Benefits of Online Compliance Management for compliance officers
Managing regulatory compliance is no easy task. Not only should the compliance officer cross departmental lines, but they must affect corrective actions as soon as a compliance issue arises. Here are the five most routine tasks of a compliance officer.
- Ensure all employees receive proper training in compliance laws and regulations
- Assess emerging regulatory issues
- Report compliance activities
- Audit and review business activities in terms of regulatory compliance
- Enforce corrective actions
These tasks take a significant amount of time and company resources. And, each requires specialized software tools. Here’s how switching to an online compliance management program can let you centralize your compliance efforts, and save time and money.
Help employees understand their compliance responsibilities
Employee awareness is turning out to be a critical compliance issue. Lack of employee awareness is turning out to be a costly non-compliance issue. A few examples are Philp Capital Inc (fined $1.5 million in 2019), Bank of Scotland (find £45.5 million in 2019) and Carnival cruise lines, which was found guilty of falsifying training records.
HIPAA, OSHA, FERPA, Dodd-Frank, all regulations need specialized training efforts. You must train all your employees in regulatory requirements, their individual responsibilities, and any updates to the law, as and when they happen.
Employees can read and sign policy and procedure documents directly from their login account. Similarly, they can undergo training, even if they have logged in using a mobile phone. And, with the available range of interactive courses, they won’t only read the material but imbibe it.
Centralize your training and policy management
Centralizing your compliance management program would also help streamline your regulatory compliance training program. With it, you can ensure training consistency across your organization; and it would help you create an audit trail to reflect a consistent compliance training effort.
Consider the amount of time and money wasted with every reprint of a policy document, or a training manual. Unfortunately, such costs cannot be avoided if your organization depends upon non-digital resources. Regulations need that you must keep a back-up of older versions.
You can save upon such costs by switching to an online compliance management program. Digital files can be updated, replaced and archived with relative ease.
Moreover, taking your regulatory compliance training online would cut the time and effort spent to track non-compliance issues. Standard systems come with reporting systems, which let you track training and policy attestations, monitor non-compliance and access training needs.
Manage compliance documents online
Categorizing and indexing documents is an effort-intensive job. Switching to an online compliance management program would not only reduce this workload, but it would also help you manage the visibility and sharing of documents across your organization.
You can configure user accounts and control the visibility to specific information. You can also password protect documents and use secure file-sharing features to protect the integrity of your compliance program.
Most importantly, moving your compliance documents online would safeguard your files in case of disasters, such as flooding or a hurricane. The physical risks can be eliminated. With a cloud-based system, your documents would get synced with your back-up stored in a different location; ensuring the safety of your compliance critical documents.
Manage compliance review dates
Managing the review dates of company policies and procedures is another task, which can be automated with an online compliance management program. Automated policy, training, and audit-review alerts can reduce the hassle involved with revising existing documents.
Similar alerts sent to managers and supervisors can ensure that employees don’t miss out on their compliance responsibilities.
Automate the monitoring of compliance needs
By pushing your compliance training system online, you wouldn’t just reduce the risk of non-compliance, but you would also reduce the effort needed to handle a compliance audit. Collecting data from various documentation systems, organizing it into audit friendly reports, and responding to audit queries generally takes weeks. This effort can be reduced with an automated reporting system.
Managing compliance risks for an organization is a mammoth task, especially if you are still using traditional systems. Shifting to an online compliance management program can help you develop a compliance strategy that’s easy to implement and manage. Factor in emergencies like Hurricane Irma or a necessity.
Tell us where you stand as a business in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency. If you have any queries about the COVID-19 health emergency, and the increasing complexity of the US regulatory system, you would probably get the idea why shifting to an online compliance management program isn’t just a choice but about regulatory compliance, share them in the comments below. Our readers would be glad to share their opinion with you.