Guaranteeing 100% compliance is challenging, difficult even, but not impossible. This blog will consider some key issues around improving your compliance.
Does your organisation, or the industry or sector you work within, demand high levels of compliance from multiple layers of staff? Are you monitored on compliance levels? Are you at risk of penalties and fines if compliance sinks below a defined standard? What types of compliance are you dealing with: health and safety, legal, financial, industry regulation? How are you managing all this? How much of a headache does it cause?
In short, is compliance a concern?
The compliance landscape
Many industries work within regulatory and compliance frameworks – from skills compliance, process compliance, legal compliance, to health and safety law, and financial regulations. It’s imperative for businesses and organisations within these sectors to have confidence that their staff are all compliant – in all the required areas they should be.
How confident would most senior managers be to guarantee their whole staff’s compliance? And if you are one of those managers, who manages the compliance function of your business, and how? In our experience at Enterprise Study, many companies, even today, will still be using manual processes (such as spreadsheets) to arrange and track the compliance for staff across an entire organisation. Sometimes across multiple sites, sometimes remotely, and often across different subject areas.
This manual element is a major challenge. We’ve spoken to clients who haven’t realised before speaking with us that their ‘pain’ is multi-layered. They are faced with the challenges created by using a manual system, like a spreadsheet, to manage people and training in a ‘live’ context. The potential for error is significant, and some companies may not have realised just how massive until they begin to investigate alternatives. The risks are obvious when you start to consider them:
- multiple staff amending one spreadsheet, or worse still, making copies
- using spreadsheets to manage the planning, tracking, results, reminders and alerts for annual training
- specialised requirements
- training-related admin
- data compliance
And all this, for every member of staff, across an organisation that could have thousands of team members.
Once an organisation is used to a certain way of working, implementing any change can present a secondary challenge. Often, one person is tasked with identifying problems with compliance management, ways to improve it, convincing stakeholders, finding funding, communicating change, and then implementing it. It’s a tall order!
How do you best approach the task of improving things? The chances are, if you are dealing with compliance, it will be in specific areas – maybe skills, or process compliance, or legal and regulatory compliance.
How far along are you with the process of improving compliance? Have you identified all your organisation’s challenges? All its objectives? The areas ripe for improvement? Have you sketched out any ‘worst case’ scenarios resulting from non-compliance (e.g an incident leading to an inspection, which may reveal weaknesses in your compliance process, and lead to heavy fines or prosecution)?
It could be that remaining with a manual process is best for you. Perhaps your body of staff is small enough that this is appropriate, or perhaps the expectations for your company’s compliance are limited and relatively straightforward. What if this isn’t your situation though?
What if you have thousands of members of staff who need to be compliant across a range of subject areas? And what if that compliance is based around regular renewal dates, rather than ‘one-off’ dates? You‘ll need more than a spreadsheet to cope with this – because in an ideal world, you’ll want to be able to track where each individual, and therefore your organisation, is up to with compliance.
Have you spoken to the senior team, the board, and those individuals who need to be compliant, about what is currently working (or not) about the way compliance is organised? It’s valuable to get their input on this – from senior teams, to understand their expectations of any compliance function; and especially from users, because their engagement is what drives your organisation’s level of compliance.
The likelihood is, once you’ve spoken to these stakeholders, the following observations will emerge:
- an easy to access, central location for everything related to managing compliance would make life easier
- a method or process which can produce accurate, quick, and easy reporting will lead to better cost efficiencies
- increased, and more consistent, compliance could help lower insurance premiums
- being able to target specific types of compliance training at the relevant team members will help with training accuracy and effectiveness
- for learners, being able to self-serve could increase engagement
- if processes could be automated, it would significantly lower administration time, and save money from distributing resources such as joining instruction letters, course materials, and certificates
- if there was a way to guarantee all staff would be reminded about annual skills compliance, that would significantly decrease risk around lapsed skills and qualifications
Once concerns and objectives are more clearly identified, it will be easier to for you to understand how to address them. You could employ improved manual processes. You could employ a stricter set of guidelines, policies and rules, and see if that helped.
Or, you could look towards technology for a solution. This would obviously cost more than an in-house solution, but there are significant and evidenced benefits to this approach. Researching an online learning management system could meet all the concerns and objectives for your organisation.
You’ll need to consider a range of options if you start to explore this route. When comparing systems, think about:
- Functions. Compare system functions against each other, but also against your organisation’s needs. Find out if functions can be tailored, or switched on/off, find out if there are tiered levels of cost relating to function.
- Tip: don’t fall into a trap of thinking you’ll save money by having fewer functions – it’s much better to do an accurate scoping exercise to accurately assess your organisation’s needs, and match functions to that, rather than matching to a budget. Speaking of which…
- Budget. How much does each system cost? Consider licensing fees, set up fees, development fees, support fees.
- The future. Never forget to think about the future. Can the systems you’re evaluating evolve at a pace that matches your organisation?
- Engagement. How easy to use are the systems you’re assessing? Do they make sense for the end users (both admin and learners)?
- Support. Once a system is implemented, what does the ongoing support look like? How accessible is the system’s support team? How responsive? How effective?
Since 2002, we’ve made it our business to help organisations with all of this. Right from the first conversation with us, we’ll work with you to help you address all these issues. In our experience, the learning, development and training provided for compliance aren’t themselves the challenge – instead, it’s how all that is managed, deployed to staff, and recorded. Cloud-based technology offers a neat solution for this – providing a single platform from which to manage it all.
This process can be overwhelming, especially if your organisation is very large, with multiple requirements. We can offer sound advice on many of the issues at play, based on expert industry experience. We understand the lead times, layers of decision making, and concerns around this type of improvement planning. Give us a call, and see if we can offer any advice based on where you’re up to already.