Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  28 Mar 2011

BUSINESS: Managing Your Compliance Programme


Recent Gauteng Business News

With an ever increasing number of laws and regulations, compliance has recently become very important for business. However, because of the sheer number of compliance regulations, one issue that organisations now face is how to manage an overall enterprise compliance programme as opposed to the fragmented approach that many businesses take, with every division having its own separate compliance approach.

An enterprise compliance programme will not only make these regulations easier to manage, it will actually help to instil compliance in the culture of the organisations, as such a programme is based upon the ethical approach of top management regarding the business, and this will then filter down through the rest of the organisation.

Ultimately a compliance programme consists of four aspects, namely:

. Demonstrating compliance with regulations;
. embedding compliance within the organisation;
. managing the cost of compliance;
. and identifying, addressing and resolving regulatory failures

But the culture of the organisation itself plays a vital role in every one of these aspects, and any compliance programme should begin with a code of conduct enforced by the top levels of the organisation, with executives leading by example to help develop a culture of compliance.

Compliance consists not only of mandatory boundaries as imposed by the law and government regulations, but also voluntary boundaries defined by management including public commitments, organisational values, contractual obligations, and so on. The problem that currently exists however is that organisations are complying with laws because they have to but this is not part of the ingrained culture of the organisation, which means that inevitably it will be conducted piecemeal and not in an effective, enterprise-wide fashion.

In order to manage a compliance programme then, there are certain areas that need to be addressed, including:

. the culture of the organisation;
. the scope and strategy of both the compliance and ethics programmes;
. the structure and resources that have been put into place;
. the policy that has been designed to meet the overall compliance programme;
. communication around policies and training of staff around this;
. issue management in terms of how employees can raise issues around compliance and ethics management;
. and an evaluation procedure to help understand where the compliance programme is succeeding or failing

For organisations to begin to understand all of these various aspects it is necessary to design a framework, based on your specific business environment that incorporates the five separate cultures of the organisation: workforce, governance, risk, compliance and technology. This framework needs to be developed collaboratively by top level management, including executives and the board, and the logic of this framework will then form the foundation of the compliance programme. This programme needs to be evaluated as laws, regulations and business environments are always changing, so compliance needs to become a continuous process, embedded within the organisational culture itself. The compliance programme needs to be approved by the board of directors, as they need an insight into what is happening, and compliance officers should report into the board to assure them that the compliance programme is working effectively.

A compliance programme is not only something organisations are obliged to have in place because of laws and regulations, but can also in fact enhance the business, improving the bottom line and helping people to work more efficiently and effectively. A compliance programme should contribute towards the organisation achieving its strategic and business objectives, enhance the leadership and organisational culture by inspiring and promoting a culture of performance, accountability, integrity, trust, and open communication, and increase stakeholder confidence and trust in the organisation.

By implementing and managing a compliance programme that works for the organisation, the business can be assured of greater sustainability and greater profitability, which in the end will benefit the employees, the stakeholders, the managers, the board and the local economy as well.

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