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Things change – sometimes dramatically. Nixon goes to China (1972). The Red Sox win baseball’s World Series (2004). Obama goes to Cuba (2016).
These developments, surprising to many when they occur and seemingly happening “overnight”, reflect considerable advance preparation. The initial organizational planning, resource allocation and communications all take place months or even years prior to the event itself.
With spring now upon us in the northern hemisphere, is it time for compliance chiefs to start “planting some seeds” - making plans and preparations relating to significant compliance program changes you’d like to introduce now or in future periods? For example, if automating certain compliance management aspects of your program is part of your strategic plan to improve compliance operations and/or is a response to your CFO’s relentless push for corporate support organizations to “do more with less”, consider the following three planning steps:
1. Been there, done that
Don’t reinvent the wheel. In many organizations, a human resources information system (HRIS) already helps manage repetitive and routine HR tasks that used to be entirely manual, such as on-boarding, benefits management and performance reviews. Confer with your HR peers to explore how that change was accomplished and what “lessons learned” may apply to your plans for automating compliance with a software solution at your company. Other sources of this type of advice: fellow compliance chiefs at other companies that have already automated aspects of compliance.
2. Go with the (technical) flow
For data security, cost and efficiency reasons, most compliance automation software is now web-based (referred to as “the cloud”) and provided in a software as a service (SaaS) form. What is your organization’s present IT configuration and its planned IT strategy and road map, and does it involve a migration from legacy premises-based to cloud-based software? As a function of the answers to the latter, how can you best position your compliance automation approach to support your IT VP’s future directions? Confer with your IT peers; you may find allies that embrace your compliance automation ideas as part of their own priorities.
3. Raise awareness – where it matters
Compliance chiefs periodically discuss subject matter and department management trends with their management teams and boards. Add automation to the next such discussion, and be prepared to discuss the cost/benefits as applied to your company’s and your department’s specific facts and circumstances. You may be pleasantly surprised at the “go, go, go” response during the first discussion. But even if there is just a polite nodding of heads at this first exposure to the concept, you will have begun the process of planting automation seeds for the future.