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Why Compliance is Falling Behind

Meeting compliance is critical to those that work in highly regulated industries and specifically to those that are responsible for safety. Today, compliance demands come from many sources and include both mandatory along with voluntary commitments to industry standards, guidelines, and stakeholders.

The intention of all compliance programs is to implement how these commitments will be met so that the desired outcomes are achieved. This requires that outcomes are documented, measured and periodically evaluated.

Unfortunately, for many companies, their compliance systems are not able to carry the weight of their current obligations, let alone handle increased demand.

Here are five reasons why compliance is falling behind.

1. Unsustainable Programs

Management programs often do not have clear charters that document compliance commitments, outcomes and the level of obligation.They often are still based on paper paradigms and do not exploit best practices or current technologies. It is common to find that compliance programs do not include adequate support for:

  • Change management

  • Risk management

  • Continuous improvement

  • Compliance assurance

  • Process support

Without these capabilities it is not possible to sustain compliance let alone improve.

2. Reduced Workforce

The workforce is getting smaller, younger and has less experience knowing how to meet compliance and therefore rely on programs, systems and processes to fill in the gaps.

Given the state of compliance programs, workers will often lean on their own ideas of what should be done. This leaves companies vulnerable to unnecessary compliance risk.

3. Increasing Compliance Demand

The face of compliance is changing. Regulators are moving away from prescription to performance based specifications. In addition, compliance often now requires additional capabilities to support: risk based methods, evidence based processes, along with advancing program maturity through a model of continuous improvement.

These changes affect how a company approaches compliance. At a minimum, this moves the focus from complying to regulatory elements to achieve compliance outcomes driven by risk based commitments.

Some standards organizations are softening the impact by publishing umbrella guidelines or making compliance voluntary. However, there should be no mistake, there is a sea change and compliance is changing and for many it already has.

4. Poor Processes

Current processes that deliver program objectives tend to be based on activity and not on outcomes. As a result, associated procedures can become overly prescriptive and simplistic in their approach in an attempt to keep things simple.

This is a false economy that leads to a one size fits all approach resulting in too much effort for some cases and not enough for others.

Processes based on this approach will contain excessive waste as people spend time: entering data that is not needed, waiting for unnecessary work to be done, creating reports that no one reads, and not having the information that is needed to achieve compliance outcomes.

5. Sporadic Improvement

Compliance programs do not change very often and only do so when there are findings arising from audits that are conducted yearly or less often than that. In addition, there is often no process in place to improve compliance capabilities in between audit cycles.

The pace by which programs improve is far too slow to keep up to current obligations let alone adopt new ones. One year is far too long to wait to find out you are out of of compliance and for improvements to occur.



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