Compliance is a broad term in business today. It's a term that gets thrown around in meetings, operations, regulations, and covers so many definitions. It almost borders on cliche - compliance is broad. But what does it mean? In simplest terms, "Compliance" means that you are able to do business with confidence. You can operate your business in a manner that means less risk, better quality, safety and governance. It means that you are doing business as you should - as people will expect you to. Compliance management software is designed to help foster this concept, but again, it becomes broad in definition on what can be offered. What do people need in compliance management software solutions? Here are 4 basics:
1. A Flexible Platform: You cannot necessarily place compliance into one operational area. Quality Management Systems, EHS Management Systems, Governance and Risk Systems, and others all fall under the umbrella of compliance. But the core common theme is that you want a solution that will track all your processes, manage them and put controls in place to fix any adverse events quickly and effectively. Trouble is, that you will change processes, you will need to adapt to market changes, business changes and beyond. Having a flexible platform that enables you to periodically make changes easily is a key to compliance management software. You want to make sure the platform you select has this flexible for rapid business process change. Look for a solution that has this flexibility; it enables you to change workflows, and forms as you need to - without any signifcant effort.
2. Risk Management: More and more, compliance is centered around Risk. This is because in the rapdi pace of business today, you cannot easily keep up with compliance without having some level of objective and systematic means to measure events and make decision on those events. Risk tools, and quantitative risk methods are paving the way to enable businesses to quantify their events that are out of compliance, and make decisions on how to mitigate the risk of those events. You want to ensure that your compliance management platform incorporates some level of risk management solution, or builds in a risk assessment to ensure that not only are you addressing the most critical events, but you are also building our a risk based strategy on how to ensure they are mitigated.
3. Integration and Scalability: Compliance, as stated above is broad. It does not live in a silo; many compliance processes span multiple facilities, departments and operational areas. It also spans multiple business systems. You want a solution that provides a macro-view on the data, and pulls in from other systems, as well as pushes compliance information to other business systems. This way you are creating a "Hub" for compliance that touches all other areas of the business. Similarly, you want to be able to harmonize and standardize your processes related to compliance throughout the enterprise. This requires a system that can span multiple facilities, and create a single source for compliance data. Having a solution that can operate across several business units and locations, while remaining centralized the the core enterprise location is important to maintain control over compliance processes.
4. Visibility into Compliance Data: Having a system that can automate the processes related to compliance is immensely valuable, but it is only half the battle. Without visibility into the data, it becomes difficult to get an accurate picture on top-down compliance. You want to make sure that you are building in enterprise reporting and analytics tools to the compliance information. This way, you can see any trends, make decisions on continuous improvement, identify areas for preventive action, and generate compelling and accurate reports on the overall "health" of your compliance management system.
These 4 elements are just basics on compliance management software. Again, there are broad categories to which compliance falls under, and each category will have its own specifities. The key is that will a robust, yet simplistic framework, built upon a enterprise-level platform, you can achieve the goal of doing business with confidence.