All companies need to protect their own data and data provided by others. Similarly, they all operate under regulatory obligations and need to stay compliant. It is, however, often easier said than done and requires extra effort from employees. Compared to the risk of fines, reputation loss and close of business, companies readily bear the costs and appoint dedicated people to own the compliance process.
But what if there were a way to embed compliance controls into daily work? What if it would be possible to make staff more productive and reduce compliance risk at the same time? With targeted investments in cutting-edge intelligent-information and document-management solutions, companies can make greatly enhance the compliance process.
The first step in taking control of compliance risks involves visibility. No business information should reside outside the information systems provided by the organization, and all access should follow defined policies. Making that happen requires either the consolidation of information into a single repository or implementing a federated approach across systems.
In wealth management, for example, advisors invest the funds of their clients according to a mutually agreed plan. Before such plans can be made, suitability and risk assessments must be completed. And before any transactions, written evidence of client consent needs to be recorded. To ensure compliance, all this information needs to be readily available in case of a client complaint or an audit.
Automating compliance and data processes
The second step towards productivity comes through automation. Anything that can be automated should be automated to minimize the risk of human error and to simplify the work. Anything than can be placed into a template, filled automatically, or checked on behalf of the employee enhances productivity. Why rely on human memory and leave an important compliance action to the busy knowledge worker if it can be handled automatically?
Example: Accounting, tax, and audit firms need to run a number of checks before accepting a new client or a new job. Have we done business with this individual before? Do we have evidence of their status and authority in the client company? Is anything we have done or are doing in conflict with this new opportunity? These checks can usually be streamlined to a point where only unclear cases are left for people to resolve, saving time in the majority of cases, and creating consistency in the execution of this process.
Embedding controls into daily work
The last step is about embedding compliance controls into a seamless part of daily work. By tying data and documents directly into business processes, it is possible to ensure compliance against all kinds of controls, whether they originate from laws and regulations, standards, client requirements, or internal company policies.
Consider a busy consultant who just won a new deal for designing a new go-to-market strategy for a growing client. Since the neighboring department is working for a competitor, it’s especially important all knowledge of this case stays inside a bubble of confidentiality. Instead of manual and case-specific procedures, the client’s name can be automatically codified and all access to client information automatically restricted to the deal team only. This way, the team can simply focus on their work and allow the underlying system handle compliancy.
Compliance management can be extremely complicated, but one fact is simple: By following these three steps, companies can ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and laws without compromising employee productivity.