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Knowledge To Help Elevate Your Compliance

Steering Compliance: Three Imperatives for Operational Compliance Programs

Operational Compliance Programs are the means used to steer organizations towards meeting all their obligations and keeping all their promises associated with safety, security, sustainability, quality, and other stakeholder outcomes. Programs are the vehicles that delivers compliance value – better compliance outcomes and increased stakeholder trust in presence of uncertainty.

To ensure their effectiveness, operational compliance programs must actively engage in three critical on-going activities: enhancing capabilities, introducing change, and regulating systems. By prioritizing these imperatives, organizations can provide greater assurance that they are able to stay between the lines and ahead of risk today, tomorrow, and everyday into the future.

1. Enhancing Capabilities: Driving Progress Towards Compliance Outcomes

The first key imperative for operational compliance programs is to continuously enhance organizational capabilities (people, process, and technology) to meet all their obligations and effectively contend with risk. This involves developing and nurturing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, equipped to tackle the challenges posed by evolving regulations, industry standards, and promised organizational performance and outcomes. By providing comprehensive training and educational resources, compliance programs empower management and staff to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions within the boundaries of organizational values.

Moreover, enhancing capabilities requires establishing robust communication channels and fostering a collaborative environment. This enables the compliance team to proactively engage with other departments, identify potential compliance risks, and devise effective strategies to mitigate them. By strengthening cross-functional collaboration, compliance programs can align business objectives with compliance outcomes, fostering a culture where compliance is not seen as a hindrance but as an enabler of success.

Here is a list of essential operational compliance program functions where capabilities need to be continuously enhanced:

  • Managed Obligations

  • Managed Promises

  • Managed Assurance

  • Managed Culture

  • Managed Accountability and Responsibility

  • Managed Organizational Alignment

  • Managed Operations

  • Managed Risk

  • Managed Capabilities

  • Managed Data & Monitoring

  • Managed Improvements

  • Managed Technology

2. Introducing Change: Staying Ahead of Risks

The second imperative for operational compliance programs is to embrace change and remain ahead of emerging risks. Regulatory landscapes are constantly evolving, necessitating agility and adaptability from compliance professionals. It is crucial for compliance programs to proactively monitor regulatory developments and assess their impact on the organization's operations.

By adopting a forward-thinking approach, operational compliance programs can identify potential gaps in their existing policies and procedures, and implement necessary changes to ensure ongoing compliance. Regular risk assessments and audits become invaluable tools in detecting vulnerabilities and implementing effective controls. Embracing change allows compliance programs to anticipate potential disruptions, minimize compliance breaches, and maintain a competitive edge in an ever-changing business environment.

3. Regulating Systems: Achieving Performance Targets

The third imperative for operational compliance programs is to regulate compliance systems and processes to achieve risk and compliance performance targets. This involves implementing robust monitoring mechanisms and utilizing technology to enhance compliance oversight. By leveraging data analytics and automation tools, compliance programs can efficiently monitor compliance-related activities, identify patterns, and detect any anomalies that require immediate attention.

Furthermore, compliance programs must establish clear performance targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the effectiveness of their initiatives. Regular assessments and reporting enable organizations to measure progress, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize compliance efforts.


Operational compliance programs steer organizations towards compliance outcomes as well as the vehicles to deliver value – better compliance outcomes and greater stakeholder trust in an ever-evolving business landscape.

By prioritizing three imperatives — enhancing capabilities, introducing change, and regulating systems — operational compliance programs can establish a robust framework that ensures sustainable compliance outcomes in the presence of uncertainty.


If you are interested in learning more on this topic we invite you to participate in our Foundations course on the topic of "Operational Compliance." In this course you will learn more what operational compliance is and why it is necessary to realize compliance outcomes. This course is applicable for all compliance domains where compliance failure means mission failure such as: safety, security, sustainability, quality, regulatory, and others.

The material covered in this course is part of what we explore in our advanced program – The Proactive Certainty Program™, Compliance operability is the secret sauce for performance-based compliance and essential for all those who want to take ownership of all their obligations.

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